The Petersburg City Council on Tuesday signed off on a massive $1.4 billion development project with a proposed Live! Casino & Hotel Virginia as the anchor.
But Peterburg has some critical hurdles to clear. The city does not have state permission to hold a casino vote yet. That’s a mandatory first step before concept can become construction.
Live! Casino & Hotel Virginia plans
The Cordish Companies will develop 4 million square feet at the intersection of Wagner Road and I-95 including:
- 1,300 residential units
- 500 hotel rooms
- 600,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment space.
Live! Casino & Hotel Virginia will offer:
- More than 670,000 square feet of gaming, hotel, dining and entertainment space
- An upscale 200-room hotel featuring 20 suites, a resort pool and a fitness center
- Over 2,000 slots and electronic table games
- 60 table games including poker
- An event center for entertainment, meetings, conventions, and social gatherings
- Over a dozen dining and entertainment options
- Free surface parking
Live! Casino & Hotel Virginia pitch
The Cordish Companies said it will develop the Live! Gaming and Entertainment District in phases. The company expects its fully-realized district to add $10 billion into the local economy over 15 years.
Petersburg Mayor Sam Parham said Cordish has “a proven track record in developing and operating mixed-use and casino properties.”
“Cordish is the only company, of the many we consulted with, that showed Petersburg a plan that goes beyond a casino and gives us a path to revitalize our city. We are confident that we have the ideal partner in The Cordish Companies to bring our vision to fruition.”
Cordish CEO Zed Smith said he was looking forward to working with city officials as the district becomes “a catalyst for change and significant urban development.”
Lean on the golden shovels for now
Petersburg faces red tape before the ribbon cutting, so keep an eye on the 2023 calendar.
The Virginia General Assembly will hold a scheduled 30-day session starting on Wednesday, Jan. 11. During that window, lawmakers and Gov. Glenn Youngkin could give Petersburg the green light to hold a November 2023 casino vote.
But that’s only half the equation for Live! Casino & Hotel Virginia.
Petersburg supporters also want to block competing efforts in Richmond, which is 25 miles away. The capital city wants a November 2023 vote for a massive casino project of its own.
That would be a second try for Richmond, however. Five cities received initial state approval for a casino referendum. Richmond was the only city to vote down a casino measure. Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth all approved plans.
Cordish won’t make a $1.4 billion investment in Petersburg if competition in Richmond is too close for comfort.
Petersburg has a senate ally
At an Oct. 25 meeting, state Sen. Joe Morrissey told the Petersburg City Council he already introduced legislation to put the city at the front of the line.
“It’s Senate Bill 780 and it will do the following: It will add Petersburg as the fifth and final eligible host city.”
The legislation calls for a Petersburg, VA casino vote. SB 780 also prevents Richmond from holding a casino vote until Petersburg voters get a chance to weigh in.
“If Petersburg prevails in the referendum, Richmond will be eliminated as a potential host city. And it also, finally, designates that the (Petersburg) referendum will be held in November of 2023.”
A 77-page report to Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission suggests both cities could support a casino. But, plans at one or both sites would then be smaller in scale. That would not be a fit for the Live! Gaming and Entertainment District plans.