The Pamunkey Indian Tribe and its casino development team have refiled plans for their proposed HeadWaters Resort and Casino project with a “more compact footprint” that excludes a marina and envisions opening the casino before the rest of the property.
For the project to proceed, the final plans for the location must be approved by the City Council of Norfolk. Once the plans are approved, the City of Norfolk can officially sell the land needed for the project, located near the Elizabeth River and Harbor Park. The plans are scheduled to be considered at an Architectural Review Board hearing on January 8, but there are no specifics on the full cost of the project or the construction timeline in the documents filed with the city.
According to Jay Smith, a spokesman for HeadWaters, the goal of the submitted plans is to have casino gaming operations begin in 2025. Smith also noted that the construction of other parts of the property, such as the spa and hotel, is progressing smoothly. The developers are committed to investing half a billion dollars in the project, which includes a 65,000-square-foot casino floor, a 300-room hotel, and a spa and fitness area.
While the casino hopes to have 50 table games and 1,800 to 2,000 slot machines, Smith admitted that on the opening day in November 2025, there may be fewer machines and games available. The initial plan was withdrawn prior to a vote by the Architectural Review Board, as city leadership objected to the two-phase approach and a lack of specifics about the hotel and other amenities.
It is still uncertain whether the city will approve the updated plans, as they are designed for a phased opening. Mayor Kenny Alexander stressed that the city would approve plans that align with the 2020 referendum and the original agreement. Previously, the plans included a marina along the Elizabeth River, but the updated plans feature a more compact footprint due to ongoing discussions about the impacts of a planned seawall project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The casino developers would purchase nearly 14 acres of land from the City of Norfolk, with the deadline for the tribe to buy the land set for January 2025. The planned location for the project is between the Amtrak station and Harbor Park, with additional acreage set aside for parking.
The plans submitted to the city depict a building that includes a ground-level garage with multiple parking spaces and a casino with various restaurants overlooking the Elizabeth River and Harbor Park. The hotel will include a ballroom facing the river, a spa, and meeting rooms. Once the plans are reviewed and approved, construction is expected to begin on the project.