The proposed HeadWaters Resort and Casino project in Norfolk will be delayed again.
The Pamunkey Indian Tribe and its casino development team should have presented their plans to the city’s Architectural Review Board (ARB) on Jan. 22. However, the applicants postponed the meeting for the second time this month.
According to the ARB’s latest agenda, the next two meetings will now take place on Feb. 5, 2024, and Feb. 15, 2024.
Virginia casino’s development teams need more time for additional design work
According to a Virginia Pilot article, a spokesperson for HeadWaters, Jay Smith, issued an email statement explaining the reasons for the delay. Smith said that the plans were drawn so architecture and engineering teams could “produce the additional design work” needed to “address the direction provided by City Council.” Smith wrote in an email response:
“Until that work is completed, we have asked for a continuance before the ARB. As soon as we are confident that the plans meet the needs of the City and Tribe, we will ask to be put on the ARB agenda.”
For a project to move on, an ARB meeting is the first step before the plans eventually go to the Planning Commission and the City Council for approval. Once the plans receive the green light, the developers can purchase the land that currently belongs to the city.
Two weeks ago, Smith issued a statement explaining the Tribe and developer met with City Council to talk about a “number of issues concerning the project and site.” He provided no further details. As Smith mentioned, the approval is needed as soon as possible so construction can begin this spring.
It has to meet the November 2025 deadline before its state authorization expires. On multiple occasions, Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander said the City Council expects the candidates to offer a casino with the amenities and features voters approved in the 2020 referendum.
Norfolk casino could join Virginia’s three casinos by November 2025
The HeadWaters casino project is a joint venture between the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, American billionaire Jon Yarbrough, and development consultant John Thompson. They joined forces aiming to build a 65,000-square-foot casino resort along the Elizabeth River, close to Harbor Park.
But, given the 5-year requirement for a casino to be operational since the voter approval in 2020, the developers don’t have much time left.
There are currently three gaming facilities operating in Virginia. The state’s only permanent facility, Rivers Casino Portsmouth, is just across the river. Virginians also have two temporary locations on the state’s southern border, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Bristol and Caesars Virginia in Danville.
Virginia State Senator David Marsden of Fairfax recently introduced a new bill that, if approved, would allow the county to build a casino.
As for a new Richmond casino, voters have rejected two attempts saying no to building a casino in the state’s capital.