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Work gets underway on Norfolk’s new hotel and convention center

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It’s official. Work is underway on The Main, a mixed-use conference center, entertainment, dining and Hilton hotel project in downtown Norfolk.

The city of Norfolk and Gold Key | PHR Hotels & Resorts are partners in the $126 million public/private initiative, which is expected to open in 2017.

According to Gold Key, based out of Virginia Beach, more than 700 jobs will be created during the construction phase, and 850 new jobs will be created when the project opens.

The project has been designed to transform the corner of Main and Granby Streets. Developer Bruce Thompson, CEO of Gold Key, said in a press release that he collaborated with some of the country’s top designers, architects and consultants.

The team includes Cooper Carry, an Atlanta-based architecture firm, W.M. Jordan Co. in Newport News as the general contractor and Easton, Pa.-based Pompan Hospitality Global Inc., the consultant for the conference center.

Baskervill, located in Richmond, also was part of the team designing the interior public spaces.

“The Main is a transformational development with a design that gives the city a stunning architectural landmark and will be unique in the conference market,” Norfolk Mayor Paul D. Fraim said in a statement.

“Our goal is to create an iconic terminus in downtown that rivals those in major metropolitan cities along the East Coast,” added Thompson. “We are very clear that this is not just a hotel but will clearly be a destination for business and leisure travelers as well as locals.”

At the core of the project will be The Exchange at The Main, a new conference and meeting center. It will be one of the most technically advanced meeting facilities in the country, certified by the International Association of Conference Centers and approved to accommodate government and defense contractors’ specifications for security. The Exchange will include a 50,000-square-foot ballroom in the Hilton to accommodate 1,500 people, making it Norfolk’s largest meeting space.

Three new restaurant venues will be added. An urban seafood bistro will be located on the ground floor. The second floor will have an Italian-inspired trattoria restaurant with a wine lounge and piano bar.
On the fifth floor, a rooftop garden and lounge will offer a fire pit and views of the Elizabeth River.

The project includes a 23-story luxury hotel – Hilton Norfolk at The Main. It will offer 294 guest rooms, including 24 luxury suites and two presidential suites. Amenities will include a concierge lounge, indoor pool, business center, car service, and a junior ballroom.

According to Gold Key, 100 percent of the public investment will come from an existing Public Amenities Fund and parking system. Established in 2003, the Public Amenities Fund authorizes a 1 percent tax on meals and lodging.  The fund will collect enough money each year to cover the debt service on the conference center.  Revenue from the parking system will cover the cost of the parking garage.

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