NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - This week, Norfolk City Manager Marcus Jones recommended a proposal presented by a developer based out-of-town as the best option for Waterside. Now, the hometown group is rallying for a second shot, making changes to its original proposal.
But, Norfolk Vice Mayor Anthony Burfoot said what the Harvey Lindsay Group is trying to do is not fair.
It turns out, Jones knew about the revised plan from Norfolk-based Harvey Lindsay before he recommended the Cordish Company proposal, which includes 13 restaurants for Waterside.
WAVY.com met with Bill Hudgins, president & CEO of HL Development Services Group, LLC, and Architect David Keith, and they showed an impressive model of their proposal. It now includes a 300 room hotel, which would be connected to a small conference center for 2,500 people.
The first plan only consisted of a conference center.
But, here's the problem.
Harvey Lindsay's new proposal came after consultants judged both their first proposal and the Cordish Company proposal. Based on the analysis, Jones chose the Cordish plan.
Burfoot said, "There is a process that is in place to follow. We owe it to Cordish. Yes, we do."
WAVY.com asked Hudgins if he is getting a second shot.
"No, this is the same proposal. The only thing we did was add the updated Convention/Conference Center Feasibility Study to attach a hotel to the conference center," Hudgins said.
However, Burfoot thinks allowing a revision is showing favoritism to the local boys over the Cordish Company, which is based in Baltimore, Md.
"At the end of the day, I don't want to send the message [that] we are only open to local businesses. That sends the wrong message nationally," Burfoot said.
Neither Lindsay plan includes keeping Waterside's existing building.
Keith said, "Waterside has had a wonderful life, but this is a better use for that waterfront location."
But, Jones explained Cordish got his nod, in part, because the plan kept the existing building.
"I keep going back to the building. There is a connection to that building," Jones said.
To sweeten the pot, Harvey Lindsay is now saying the new plan, like the Cordish plan, will not cost tax payers any money upfront. The first Harvey Lindsay plan would have cost taxpayers $76 million.
Norfolk City Council has not made a final decision, but it is clear at this time, the majority on council support keeping Waterside, giving the advantage to the Cordish Company.
The trick for Harvey Lindsay will be convincing council to let Waterside go and make a compelling case that in the long run a convention center, attached to a hotel, is in best interest of the city.
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