Part of a long-term expansion plan, the new Earth Hotel tower adjacent to the Mohegan Sun is scheduled to open October 2016.

Mohegan tribal chairman Kevin Brown who spoke to reports and state elected officials prior to a tour of the constructions site said the $130 million, 400-room hotel’s opening is a “visible signal that we are committed to economic development,” according to the day. According to Brown, the Earth Hotel in most part will cater to convention groups visiting the casino during mid-week. Beyond traditional casino gaming, the new hotel is part of the tribe’s efforts to diversify its ownings.

Casino officials said the new hotel will satisfy the growing need in southeastern Connecticut for hotel rooms that the existing 1,200-room Sky Hotel could not accommodate. On Monday Brown said, “Our projections have been very modest in terms of occupancy, and we’re still going to return a good revenue stream.”

Kohn Pedersen Fox, the Earth Hotel’s designers, also designed the Sky Hotel which opened in 2002. The new hotel was modeled after the Sky Hotel. While the general contractor for the job is the A/Z Corp. of North Stonington. Working in the area that will sever as the hotel’s lobby, construction workers navigated between the building’s concrete frame and building materials. While sitting on the fourth floor, panes of glass are ready to be installed. President and CEO of A/Z Corp., Perry Lorenz, said that it is likely construction of the hotel’s top floor will be completed next month. To date, 12 of the hotel’s 14 floors have been built.

This year the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority announced it would offer bonds in the amount of $123 million to build the Earth Hotel. A second hotel was planned by the Mohegan Sun as part of its 2007 Project Horizon expansion, but due to the economic recession was scaled back. Vivian Huang, Kohn Pedersen Fox architect, said that the Earth Tower will feature outdoor patios and outside seating for guests, which the Sky Hotel or casino does not offer. Huang said the choice was intentional.

Meanwhile, the Mohegan tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot, owners and operators of the Foxwoods Resort Casino, have temporarily delayed their decision as to where in Connecticut their new casino will be located. The two tribe’s businesses are both expected to be effected by MGM Resorts International’s Springfield mega resort and casino, which is in the process of construction. Both are working diligently to maintain control of the casino market in the state and keep casino-goers in Connecticut.