NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The developers behind Norfolk’s proposed resort and casino say they are in talks with the city to open a “restricted gaming” location before their permanent home is ready.
City Manager Chip Filer told Norfolk City Council at its annual retreat on Friday that state legislation gives the Pamunkey Indian tribe the ability to apply for a temporary operating permit so long as temporary operating is within the “footprint zone where the casino will be located”.
Norfolk’s director of economic development, Jared Chalk, confirmed that the Pamunkey Indian tribe had approached the city to do just that.
“A temporary facility where you can play slots and get your players club card and stuff,” Chalk said.
However, the potential location of this temporary gaming facility has some council members hedging their bets.
the Norfolk boxing + fitness center and the Hits at the Park Restaurant are located on the first base side of the baseball park on the first and second floors.
The boxing center has been closed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and the restaurant is normally only open when the Norfolk Tides are playing.
However, both are now considered to be possibly the home of Norfolk’s ‘first casino’.
“The Pamunkey Tribe is pleased to discuss with the City of Norfolk the possibility of opening a limited gaming restaurant and lounge in coordination with the development of their HeadWaters Resort & Casino,” Jay Smith, Spokesman for HeadWaters Resort & Casino ” said Friday. “No decisions have been made at this time, but we will continue to have discussions with the city about this opportunity. We are willing to make a major investment in the stadium, create jobs and provide tax revenue to the city if they wish to do so.”
The officially recognized Pamunkey Indian tribe, which has a reservation along the Pamunkey River in King William County a development agreement with Norfolk to build a $500 million resort casino on more than 13 acres between Harbor Park and the Norfolk Southern Railroad. The project was approved by referendum in November 2020.
The site, which has been vacant since The Boathouse venue was demolished more than a decade ago, is yet to be built. The answer as to why this didn’t happen appears to be twofold.
First, Chalk said much of the site work still needs to be done. Both the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the US Army Corps of Engineers must issue permits to developers before work can begin. In addition, he said that much of the concrete near the water is in poor condition. The city was recently awarded a $250 million grant from the federal government to build the dam for the new casino.
“You can literally fall through some of these,” Chalk said.
The second reason construction hasn’t started yet is because the Virginia Lottery Board is yet to issue casino licenses.
“[The developer] The most convenient thing is breaking ground, especially on the building, after they have the license in hand,” Assistant City Manager Patrick Roberts said.
Roberts said this is expected to happen in the June/July timeframe and at that point groundbreaking can begin. The construction period is expected to be two years.
But less than seven miles away, Construction of the $300 million Rivers Casino in Portsmouth is progressing to the point where steel girders now tower over the landscape. This casino is targeting an opening date of February 2023.
A temporary opening of the facility in 2022 would give Headwaters a go-ahead for rivers. in an already tight market.
“The mayor has stressed that we don’t want a tent, we don’t want shipping containers, we don’t want a trailer with air conditioning in it. When you go to something, we want to see it in a fixed place. Something that looks good and represents the area,” Filer said. “The restaurant and the boxing center are absolutely possibilities for that in my opinion.”
However, council members Paul Riddick, Andria McClellan and Tommy Smigiel have expressed concern that a new home will need to be found for the boxing center before they commit to converting the site into a gaming parlor. boxes was seen as a way to prevent gun violence and a native of Norfolk Keyshawn Davis put the spotlight on the sport after his performance at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“We need a plan before we consider that. Where is this boxing center going and who is paying for it,” McClellan said. She suggested the city go back and ask the Pamunkey tribe to pay for the move.
Filer said the city has been looking at three alternative locations but isn’t ready to name them just yet. He said his ultimate goal is for the boxing center to find a home in Limbo Redevelopment of the Military Circle Mall.
“We have almost every single developer suggesting a possible Sportsplex,” Filer said.
Mayor Kenny Alexander asked Filer to work with the developer to see what can be done to move the boxing center and to address parking issues that may arise during construction.
“You will start to see an incredible transformation in this part of town. Like no other,” said Roberts.
https://www.wavy.com/news/local-news/norfolk/current-harbor-park-boxing-center-could-host-gambling-while-norfolk-casino-is-under-construction/ The current Harbor Park Boxing Center could house gambling while the Norfolk Casino is under construction