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Pamunkey Indian Tribe Delays Norfolk Casino Land Purchase

Written By Derek Helling on November 7, 2023
skyline of norfolk virginia

There could be another delay to the construction of Headwaters Resort and Casino in Norfolk, Virginia. This new pause should be the last of its kind.

However, that’s no guarantee that other issues won’t arise as the developer of the casino and city officials still seem far apart on pertinent issues.

The Pamunkey Indian Tribe has exercised its contractual option to delay a deadline to purchase land that the casino will occupy from the city for the second time. Amid that extension, it seems the casino developers hope to sway city leaders toward their line of thinking about the project.

Headwaters Resort and Casino project hits a wall

The relationship between the City of Norfolk and the Pamunkey Indian Tribe goes back to 2020. City leaders formulated a contract for the Tribe to construct and operate a casino adjacent to the city’s riverfront area.

After voters approved the measure, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe started drafting plans for the facility. City leaders must approve construction designs before that activity can actually begin.

However, there have been disagreements between the parties about how that should proceed.

In July, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe canceled a presentation to the Norfolk Architecture Review Board. Early proposals had included plans for a temporary casino while construction was underway on a larger, permanent site.

Later plans from the Tribe scrapped that element. Instead, the casino developer proposed constructing the resort complex in two phases.

That seems to be the main point of contention between the city and the Tribe right now. Until that resolves, activity is at a standstill.

Land option part of development plan dispute

According to an article by Ian Munro of The Virginian-Pilot, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe informed city leaders of their intention to deploy their extension option on Sept. 26. City leaders accepted that move as part of the Tribe’s contractual rights.

The new expiration date for the Tribe’s exclusive purchase rights for the land is January 2025. However, that doesn’t mean that construction would necessarily wait until then to begin.

Munro reports that representatives from both parties are still meeting regularly. Additionally, Munro adds that a Tribal representative shared that the Tribe intends to submit planning documents to the city for approval soon.

The goal is to have those receive approval from the Architecture Board in January then from the full city council in February.

Should that happen, construction could begin in the spring of 2024. That is provided city leaders sign off on the casino plans, though.

If that does not happen, delays could run further into 2024 or even beyond.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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