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New Casino Project in Norfolk, VA, Still Waiting for Approval

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The Norfolk City Council is set to scrutinize revised plans for the much-anticipated HeadWaters Resort & Casino, a $500-million project proposed by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe and Tennessee billionaire Jon Yarbrough. With the November 2025 deadline for launch looming, the city seeks to ensure that the revised plans align with the original referendum and agreement, paving the way for a seamless construction process.

New Norfolk Casino Faces Challenges

Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander has emphasized the council's commitment to approving the project as a single comprehensive package, rejecting piecemeal approvals that could hinder the project's progress. He has also expressed disapproval of the previous proposal, which suggested building the casino and garage first, leaving out the hotel and spa resort.

Related: Tribal Casino Planned for Norfolk, Virginia, Faces New Delays

The revised plan, which the Norfolk Architectural Review Board will review on January 8 of next year, introduces a shift in strategy. It proposes continuous construction of the property, with the casino opening while the hotel, spa and other facilities are still under development.

This change departs from the original two-phase plan. It aims to accelerate the casino's opening and ensure it meets the 2025 deadline.

Another significant alteration involves the casino and resort's footprint, which is being reduced, and the resort's relocation away from the Elizabeth River waterfront. This decision aligns with the city's ongoing $2.6 billion seawall project, which requires the resort to be constructed in a smaller area.

Significant Economic Benefit

Despite the reduced footprint, the HeadWaters Resort & Casino is still expected to generate substantial economic benefits. The project is projected to create approximately 2,000 construction jobs during the development phase and 2,480 full-time jobs once operational. The casino itself is expected to feature 800 to 1,000 slot machines and 20 to 25 table games, with plans to double these numbers once the venture is fully operational.

The developers are seeking city council approval to acquire a smaller land area, ranging from 10 to 12 acres instead of the originally designated 13 or 14 acres. This reduced footprint could potentially impact the scope of the resort and its amenities, necessitating further discussions and approvals before final construction can commence in spring 2024.

As the Norfolk City Council reviews the revised plans, it will weigh the potential economic benefits against the need to ensure the project's alignment with the original referendum and agreement. The council will also assess the impact of the reduced footprint on the resort's scope and amenities. The outcome of these deliberations will determine the future of the HeadWaters Resort & Casino, shaping the city's skyline and economic landscape.

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