NORFOLK, Virginia (WAVY) – Nearly six months after the proposals were first published, Norfolk City Council is listening to the personal statements of three teams of developers fighting for the transformation of the current Military Circle mall.
On Thursday, two groups, known as Crossroads Partnership LLC and Norfolk MC Associates LLC, each presented to the city council their plans to demolish the old mall and build everything in its place, from entertainment venues to housing.
Both used everything they had to understand why their offer was better.
Former NFL star Emmett Smith opened the presentation for the Crossroads Partnership, saying, “I know we’ve put together the best team in their class to perform and do the work to win the Military Circle.”
Smith’s team also includes SB Ballard Construction Company, ASM Global and Sports Facilities.
Their offer includes the construction of a sports complex, offices of both Sentara Health and Optima Insurance, hotels, nearly 1,000 apartment buildings, of which 100 – affordable housing.
The anchor will be a 15,000-seat arena run by ASM, a major arena operator.
Chuck Steedman, ASM Global’s executive vice president of strategy, touted his company’s already strong relationship in the entertainment and sports industry. ASM operates arenas in which 14 NBA and NHL teams are currently home.
“We don’t just create it out of thin air,” Steedman said. “They want to look at this region, I promise we will be the first to know about it and we will find a way to work with them.”
The proposal will be financed from private funds.
Steve Ballard, president of SB Ballard Construction, said he could open the arena by May 2026.
“I think everyone in this room knows I can do it,” Ballard said.
The proposal stated that the entire project would be privately funded, creating an opportunity for “African-American investors,” said Vernon Morrow, president and CEO of E Smith Legacy.
The City Council held a closed-door meeting to discuss specific financial information with the Smith and Ballard team.
“We have nothing to hide, we are transparent,” said Bruce Thompson, CEO of Gold Key PHR, a few hours later when given the same opportunity.
Thompson, a well-known developer in the region, is leading a team seeking to move Well to the Military Circle website.
Thompson’s team, which includes Norfolk State University, WM Jordan and Miller Group, is proposing to build the Sentara Healthcare “Wellness Village” health center, a “world-class” leisure center, a grocery store and 864 apartment buildings.
Unlike the other two proposals, which propose to secure the arena, Thompson proposes an anchor to be a green area with an amphitheater.
He concluded that without a professional sports team the success for failure was high.
“We just felt it was going to be hard, hard. Norfolk will have to give more than $ 100 million, ”Thompson said.
Thompson has been asking for new tax revenues on the land to help with funding for nearly three decades.
On Saturday, the city council will meet with a team led by Farrell Williams.
It is expected that the recommended developer will be presented to the city executive committee by spring.