Navajo Nation Signs Agreement to Build Shiprock Hotel & Restaurant

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye signs a Memorandum of Agreement to build a hotel and restaurant in Shiprock, N.M.

Published August 3, 2018

CHURCH ROCK, N.M. — Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) authorizing the expenditure of $2.8 million for infrastructure costs for a hotel and restaurant in Shiprock.

The MOA, signed at Fire Rock Navajo Casino, also establishes a partnership between the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (NNGE) and the Navajo Division of Economic Development (DED). It directs the two entities to move forward with design and construction of the project, which comes with a total price tag of $8.3 million.

“Shiprock has a waited a long time for this,” President Begaye said as he signed the MOA. “This project will help revitalize the economy in one of the largest chapters on the Navajo Nation. Shiprock is an important community in the Four Corners area, with traffic coming through from all directions. A hotel is long overdue.”

A market study found that Shiprock is the “focal point of commerce and social activity” for residents of the northeastern portion of the Navajo Nation. Yet economic activity in Shiprock is limited, however, with most tourists and customers traveling to nearby cities. Farmington, N.M. is located 28 miles away, and Cortez, Colo., is 42 miles away.

“Shiprock, due to its location at the intersection of two major U.S. highways, is well located to benefit from tourism,” the market study states. “However, the community does not offer a hotel. As a result, tourists just pass through Shiprock and lodge in surrounding communities.”

Shiprock also lacks full-service restaurants, the market study states. Most restaurants in Shiprock are fast-food chains. The hotel and restaurant project is expected to offer tourists more options when they visit Shiprock while also jump-starting economic growth in the northwest corner of New Mexico.

“When one community on the Navajo Nation benefits, we all benefit,” Vice President Jonathan Nez said. “We are looking forward to more jobs and opportunities in Shiprock and surrounding areas.”

The MOA that President Begaye signed Tuesday directs the DED to initiate meetings with the Shiprock Chapter, the Navajo Nation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to identify land suitable for development, seek required clearances and obtain a business site lease. It also directs the DED to complete a master plan “for the larger economic development vision for the Shiprock community” within nine months.

The MOA instructs the NNGE to provide oversight of the project, to complete market and traffic impact studies and to calculate utility loads for the facility. The NNGE will also operate and manage the hotel and restaurant upon completion of the project.

Brian Parrish, chief executive officer for the NNGE, and Sean McCabe, executive director of the DED, previously signed the MOA.

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