The highly anticipated HeadWaters Resort & Casino project in Norfolk, which is being undertaken by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, has hit a snag as they have decided to delay the presentation of their latest plans until January 22. This decision comes as the tribe and their casino development team work to address concerns and issues related to the project and site. Casino spokesperson Jay Smith stated that discussions were ongoing to resolve these issues before proceeding with the Architectural Review Board presentation. However, specific details about the nature of these issues were not provided.
Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander expressed his lack of awareness regarding any problems with the latest proposal and directed inquiries to the developer. The proposed HeadWaters Resort & Casino, located near downtown Norfolk, has undergone several modifications since receiving approval for construction in 2020. These modifications have included setbacks such as the abandonment of plans for a temporary casino within Harbor Park in 2022, and opposition to a two-phase plan for a casino and resort in mid-2023, which was eventually withdrawn.
The latest blueprint for the project, unveiled in December 2023, revealed a 2025 commencement for gaming activities, while other resort components undergo construction. The once-proposed Elizabeth River marina has been excluded from the updated plans. Despite obtaining approval from local voters in 2020, construction has not yet begun, more than three years later.
The approval of the Architectural Review Board is crucial for the project’s advancement, as it evaluates new construction projects involving city-owned land. The development, spanning 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 hurdles, including legal issues over the temporary casino, disagreements over a phased development approach, and design delays linked to a city-funded seawall project along the Elizabeth River. According to the casino development agreement, HeadWaters must be operational by November 2025, a deadline that carries financial implications for both the city and the tribe.