Zona de Azar USA – HeadWaters Resort & Casino in Norfolk, Virginia, Moves a Step Closer to Construction
USA.- July 13th 2023 www.zonadeazar.com The $500 million HeadWaters Resort & Casino project (renderings pictured) in Norfolk, Virginia, is inching closer to breaking ground on building work.
The casino’s developers, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe and Tennessee billionaire Jon Yarbrough, have recently presented their plans to the Norfolk Architectural Review Board.
The proposal outlines a two-phase construction plan for the 90,000-square-foot resort casino, with the first phase focusing on the casino itself.
Each phase could take up to a year and a half, for a two- to three-year total. That’s after construction starts, which still needs a few levels of regulatory approval.
John Thompson is a development consultant involved with the project. He outlined to the Review Board how the plan fits with regulations.
“The legislature has said you may operate a temporary casino for 12 months. You can then extend that another 12 months if you are demonstrating to the lottery that you are complying with the requirements,” he said, as reported by The Virginian Pilot.
“And that’s what we plan to do when we’re ready to go.”
The Road to Approval
The proposal was presented to the Norfolk Architectural Review Board on Monday evening. Feedback will then be given and changes assessed. Then a vote will be taken in a two-week time frame.
The board, which reviews new construction projects located inside the city’s historic districts, must approve the casino resort plan by issuing the developers a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA).
Some concerns were raised during the meeting, particularly about the need for more landscaping in the pedestrian walkway along the riverfront.
However, these concerns are not expected to result in a negative vote for the developers when the agency votes on the project.
Local voters first approved the casino project in a referendum held in November 2020.
A Change in Strategy
Over the past months, HeadWaters’ developers have decided to abandon their initial plan of opening a temporary casino. One was planned for the nearby Harbor Park baseball stadium, and another in the parking lot of the main casino location.
However, both plans were dropped from the application submitted to the board this week.
Instead, developers are focusing all their efforts on building the permanent casino part of the project first, taking priority over the construction of the associated hotel and other amenities.
The first phase of the project will feature a 45,000-square-foot gaming floor, a 180-seat restaurant, a 1,200-space parking garage, and a 5,000-square-foot lobby. The budget for this phase is estimated at around $100 million.
Once the COA is secured from the Architectural Board, the project will move to the Norfolk Planning Commission.
The developers plan to get the casino built and operational before moving on to the second phase, which will include the hotel, an outdoor pool, additional restaurants, an entertainment venue, and other amenities.
The HeadWaters project has gone through multiple iterations since voters approved it in 2020.
At that time, developers pitched a $500 million-plus resort casino, with a 300-room hotel, restaurants, an entertainment venue, a rooftop pool, thousands of slot machines, and as many as 150 table games.
The adjusted plans will still need approval from the aforementioned bodies, and then, finally, the Norfolk Council.