The governor of the Gila River Indian Community is proposing a hotel and other commercial development on more than 5 acres he owns southeast of Interstate 10 and Riggs Road.
Gov. William Rhodes is the sole owner of the land, but the land is in a trust, so he must enter into a lease approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs before a proposal to build a hotel, restaurant, gas station and convenience store would come to fruition.
A lease was submitted and Rhodes asked for its approval, said Stan Webb, realty officer for the BIA’s western regional office in Phoenix.
“There are still negotiations ongoing between the parties, and we’re still awaiting further documentation,” Webb said Monday. “There is a leased document but there’s still further work to be done on that.”
Rhodes is working with two developers on the deal. He could not be reached for comment.
The governor and the tribal council have been at odds over the proposed South Mountain Freeway, which is expected to run about five miles north of the proposed hotel development.
The Arizona Department of Transportation is considering building the freeway on the Pecos Road alignment, but it would also like to study a path to the south through desert land on the Gila community.
The tribal council has been opposed to the study, and Rhodes has said he’s neutral on the issue, but he has called for a referendum that could potentially bypass a decision made last month by a community committee opposing the study.
The land Rhodes owns is on the east side of the interstate. The South Mountain is proposed to be built west of Interstate 10 and it would link with Interstate 10 in the west Valley.
Rhodes was suspended from his duties on Memorial Day weekend for three weeks following a closed-door vote by the community council. News reports have said the suspension was related to not following official personnel and financial procedures. Webb did not know if Rhodes has any more land in the community, but he said the Riggs Road development is the only one the governor has proposed. The proposal is subject to change, he said, because the lease allows other permitted uses.