Virginia: Proposed $500M HeadWaters Resort and Casino in Norfolk likely to begin work in late 2023

The proposed HeadWaters Resort and Casino in Norfolk, Virginia, is likely to begin construction by the end of 2023, according to its developers. The casino is projected to cost roughly $500 million and will be developed in two phases.

The Pamunkey Indian Tribe has now released updated plans and renderings for the property. The tribe has signed a development agreement with Norfolk to build a casino in the city, a plan first approved by city voters in a 2020 referendum. The tribe, on Monday, showed what the casino would look like to the Norfolk Architectural Review Board.

Speaking with WAVY, Robert Gray, chief of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, said: “I’m confident that this project will exceed the expectations of everyone. It will be the destination of choice for gaming in Virginia. We are living up to every promise we made and are determined to make this a project of which Norfolk can be proud.”

Phase 1 of the proposal calls for a temporary 90,000-square-foot facility with approximately 45,000 square feet for gaming, a sports bar and restaurant, a grand lobby, and a multi-level parking garage.

“To be clear, we’re still building the $500 million resort and casino that was promised, but what we’re planning on doing is in two phases,” HeadWaters Resort and Casino spokesperson Jay Smith told 13NewsNow.

While Phase 1 of the casino will be a temporary facility, most of it would also be part of the permanent building after construction of Phase 2 begins. “It will be first class from the beginning,” Smith said. Architects estimate 67% of Phase 1 will also be part of the permanent casino’s design. 

Phase 2 will include additional space for gaming, a hotel, resort amenities, an entertainment venue, and additional amenities. “We could be open by the end of 2024 (or) beginning of ’25 at the latest and then immediately begin construction on Phase 2,” Smith added.

John Thompson, a consultant on the project, said that the temporary casino can operate for up to a year. The Virginia Lottery can approve an additional 12 months if construction of the permanent structure is underway.

Thomson told the Daily Press: “The legislature has said you may operate a temporary casino for 12 months. You can then extend that another 12 months if you are demonstrating to the lottery that you are complying with the requirements. And that’s what we plan to do when we’re ready to go.”

Before the tribe can start with the construction of the casino, the Virginia Lottery must first grant it an operator license. After securing it, Thompson believes a groundbreaking could come by the end of the year.