The highly-anticipated HeadWaters Resort & Casino project in Norfolk has hit a recent snag, as the Pamunkey Indian Tribe has chosen to postpone the presentation of their latest plans until January 22. This decision comes after discussions between the tribe and the developer about concerns and issues regarding the project and the site.
Casino spokesperson Jay Smith stated that they are working to address these issues before moving forward with the Architectural Review Board presentation. However, he did not provide specific details about the nature of these concerns when questioned by local media outlet The Daily Press.
Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander expressed his lack of knowledge about any problems with the latest casino proposal and directed inquiries to the developer. The proposed casino, situated between the baseball stadium and the Amtrak station near downtown Norfolk, has faced obstacles since gaining approval for construction in 2020.
The project initially faced setbacks when plans for a temporary casino within Harbor Park were discarded in 2022 for not complying with voter referendum specifications. Subsequently, a two-phase plan for a casino and resort was introduced in mid-2023 but was met with opposition from city leaders and ultimately withdrawn.
The latest blueprint, unveiled in December 2023, outlines a 2025 start for gaming activities, with construction on other resort components such as the hotel and spa. Notably, the once-proposed Elizabeth River marina has been removed from the updated plans.
The Pamunkey Indian Tribe, the preferred gaming developer, secured approval from local voters in 2020 for the $500 million project on the Elizabeth River waterfront. However, construction has yet to begin more than three years later.
The approval of the Architectural Review Board is crucial for the project’s progress, as it evaluates new construction projects involving city-owned land. The HeadWaters development, covering 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 challenges, including a legal issue over the temporary casino, disagreements over a phased development approach, and design delays linked to a city-funded seawall project along the Elizabeth River. The casino development agreement stipulates that HeadWaters must be operational by November 2025, a deadline that has financial implications for both the city and the tribe.