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Tribal Casino Planned for Norfolk, Virginia, Faces New Delays

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The development proposal for the Headwaters Resort and Casino adjacent to Harbor Park in Norfolk, VA, has been retracted by the developer. This withdrawal marks the latest in a series of delays in the process of trying to bring a casino to the city.

Norfolk Casino Remains in the Air

As of now, Norfolk's Architectural Review Board (ARB) won't be reviewing the property's designs. Per the casino development team's spokesperson, the city advised against proceeding with the application for building certification for the initial phase of the HeadWaters Resort and Casino on Monday.

In June, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe and its development partners put forth a plan that included two distinct components of the $500-million project. They suggested a phased rollout of the property, starting with the casino, which would have been discussed by the ARB on Monday. However, official city documents show that the discussion was "indefinitely deferred by (the Pamunkey tribe)."

Today, representatives from the tribe, development groups and community leaders will gather privately for a meeting, as confirmed by a spokesperson representing the developer.

The implications of the project's delay and the identities of the city government officials involved in the meeting with the casino team remain a mystery. Despite multiple attempts by local media outlets to seek clarification, a city spokeswoman and Mayor Kenny Alexander have both chosen not to respond to comment requests.

In accordance with a press release, Tuesday's meeting was necessary to discuss conflicting information. Developers and the Pamunkey tribe explained that they were given inconsistent guidance by the city in two distinct letters, dated March 1 and July 14.

The tribe and the development team sought a meeting after receiving the second letter. They are looking for clarity regarding the preferred approach to acquiring land for the construction of the property.

The new delay doesn't mean that the tribe is giving up on its casino plans. It added in the press release that it is still completely committed to the resort.

Local Community Wants the Casino

As was already agreed upon by Norfolk voters in a 2020 election, a casino would be a welcome addition to the economy. However, despite numerous discussions on development proposals, progress on the project has been stagnant.

Richmond has been having difficulty finding a clear path for its casino project, as well. Only recent was headway made when state officials ran into trouble discussing Virginia's budget, offering temporary relief to casino discussions.

In June, a proposition discarded the previous plans for constructing a temporary casino in Norfolk. Initially, one idea suggested placing the temporary casino within the Harbor Park stadium while the permanent structure was being built. The second plan involved constructing the temporary casino in the parking lot. Neither plan found enough support.

The tribe is hoping to get approval for a property that includes a casino, sports bar, lobby and parking garage as part of the first phase. The second phase would add the hotel, a pool and spa, an entertainment venue and other amenities.

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