Could the state of Virginia be getting a traditional casino? Although the plans for a Portsmouth casino have been nixed, it looks like the new plan is to build a casino farther inland as part of a large entertainment complex near the Tidewater Community College campus.
The original plan to build a casino in Portsmouth, Virginia, on the Elizabeth River have been canceled. Instead, the Portsmouth city council will consider whether to move forward with a new plan, which would build the casino and its complex just 5 miles away.
The proposal was scheduled to go up for a vote Tuesday night.
Plans changed when the Economic Development Authority presented the idea of building near Interstate 264 and Tidewater Community College.
The original spot, a 50-acre space, was supposed to be a development known as either Victory Village or The Commons of Portsmouth. But after years of legal issues, the developer ended up returning the land.
The city of Portsmouth has only 33 square miles of land in total, so it doesn’t have many vacant chunks of land on which to build.
Economic Development Director Robert D. Moore led the presentation to the city. While the idea is appealing, at this point, there is no clear vision as to who the investor and developer might be.
This parcel of land could well be more appealing to a potential investor. Early estimates suggest that a $550 million investment is necessary but tax payers would likely take care of half of that bill.
At this point, there is no clear indication as to how that investor will be enticed but offering up a blank canvas with 400,000 square feet is a good start. The original location only had seven acres.
The space is also appealing to the city as now it can see a vision of a full-on entertainment complex coming together. Instead of just a gaming venue by the water, the new proposed area has enough space for a casino, retail, restaurants and more.
A four-star hotel is planned along with 30 restaurant and retail outlets, along with a movie theater. It is expected that the project would create more than 4,000 jobs. And if there are any issues with the gambling aspect of this, the city can still move forward with the entertainment district minus the casino.
The next step will be for the lawmakers to vote and approve the new site. The issue is mostly the gaming aspect as the majority of voters in each individual city will also have to approve and allow gambling in the community.
If they do, the next step would be to get a license from the state. Virginia still doesn’t allow traditional casinos but the state is studying the idea of allowing gaming in five cities, one of which would be Portsmouth. The state is also mulling over the idea of having slots type of gaming machines.