Projects forge ahead

Developments planned for Norfolk and Virginia Beach

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Print this page by Elizabeth Cooper

While sequestration has forced some businesses to postpone expansion plans, several high-profile projects in Norfolk and Virginia Beach have gotten the green light.

Norfolk is working with Gold Key/PHR Hotels and Resorts to build a 300-bed hotel and conference center in the downtown district. The $126 million facility would include $42.5 million in public funding for the conference center and $64 million in private investment for the hotel.

Meanwhile, more than four years after securing approval from Virginia Beach City Council to build a 360,000-square-foot entertainment complex, Dallas developer Michael Jenkins secured funding from a private equity group to start construction on the site of the city’s old convention and concert hall, the Dome. He plans to build a $180 million five-story complex at the oceanfront, featuring entertainment, retail and restaurants, and creating nearly 1,200 full-time jobs. The city will put up $38 million to build three parking garages for the complex.

Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim says the hotel and conference center will draw more visitors to the region. The plan, approved by council in early April,was opposed by owners of the Waterside Marriott and Sheraton hotels, who wrote a letter to the city council saying the project would dilute the market.

Meanwhile, Virginia Beach’s plan to build an 18,500-seat arena as a way to persuade a professional sports team to move to the city has been put on hold. The city’s rumored target, the Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball Association, appear to be headed for Seattle instead. The city decided it could not ask the commonwealth for financial assistance on the arena without having a major-league team committed to playing there.

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