January 10, 2024 3 min read

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Norfolk Casino Developer Postpones Blueprint Presentation

Initially scheduled for discussion on Monday, the decision to defer was confirmed by casino spokesperson Jay Smith, who emphasized ongoing talks with City Council members and city staff regarding various project-related matters

In a recent twist for the much-anticipated HeadWaters Resort & Casino project in Norfolk, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, along with their casino development team, has opted to delay the presentation of their latest plans until January 22. 

Norfolk Mayor Unaware of Latest Casino Proposal Issues

Casino spokesperson Jay Smith stated in an emailed communication that the tribe and the developer had engaged in discussions to address concerns and issues pertaining to the project and site before proceeding with the Architectural Review Board presentation, reported by Virginia local media outlet The Daily Press. However, when pressed for specifics on the nature of these issues, Smith refrained from providing further details.

Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander expressed his lack of awareness regarding any problems with the latest proposal and redirected inquiries to the developer. The proposed HeadWaters Resort & Casino, situated between the baseball stadium and the Amtrak station near downtown Norfolk, has undergone multiple modifications since gaining approval for construction in 2020.

Initially, the project faced setbacks when plans for a temporary casino within Harbor Park were discarded in 2022 due to non-compliance with the 2020 voter referendum specifications. Subsequently, the developer introduced a two-phase plan for a casino and resort in mid-2023, but it encountered opposition from city leaders and was eventually withdrawn.

HeadWaters Resort & Casino Tackles Construction Challenges in Norfolk

December 2023 witnessed the unveiling of the latest blueprint, featuring a 2025 commencement for gaming activities, while other resort components, such as the hotel and spa, undergo construction. Notably, the once-proposed Elizabeth River marina has been excluded from the updated plans.

The Pamunkey Indian Tribe, as the preferred gaming developer, obtained approval from local voters in 2020 for the $500 million project on the Elizabeth River waterfront, adjacent to Harbor Park Minor League Baseball stadium. Despite this, construction has yet to commence more than three years later.

The Architectural Review Board’s approval is crucial for the project’s advancement, as it is tasked with evaluating new construction projects involving city-owned land. The HeadWaters development, spanning approximately 13.5 acres, is set to be purchased from the city for $10 million, with financing provided by gaming industry veteran Jon Yarbrough.

The project has faced numerous hurdles, including a legal snag over the temporary casino, disagreements over a phased development approach, and design delays linked to a city-funded seawall project along the Elizabeth River. According to the casino development agreement, HeadWaters must be operational by November 2025, a deadline that carries financial implications for both the city and the tribe.

Author

Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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