CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A decision on whether to allow a gambling parlor, hotel and entertainment complex to be built in the shell of a former Sears has been delayed.
On Wednesday, the Chesapeake Planning Commission voted 7-1 to delay voting on the proposal for 60 days, citing concerns about traffic, parking and community notification.
Seritage Growth Properties submitted plans last year that call for the former Sears department store and parking lot at Greenbrier Mall to be home to Hampton Roads’ second Rosie’s Gaming Emporium, a bowling alley, brewery, a four-story hotel and 23,000 square feet in new restaurant space.
It’s an $80 million project expected to add 500 jobs, according to developers.
“Hampton Rosie’s has been wildly successful and we are looking to repeat the model in Chesapeake,” said John Marshall, vice president of operations for the Colonial Downs group.
The Chesapeake facility would be located on the first floor of the former Sears and have 700 Historical Horse Racing machines, off-track betting, and a 135-person restaurant, Marshall said.
Rosie’s plans on employing 200 people, which includes an on-site security team separate from the mall.
On the second floor of the former Sears, Uptown Alley would bring a “high-end bowling alley and entertainment venue” to Chesapeake.
“We’ve been looking to get into the Hampton Roads market for several years now,” said Steven Moore, co-owner of Uptown Alley. “This was finally the right ‘fit’.”
However, the Chesapeake Planning Department staff report recommended the plan be denied because it would cause continued traffic troubles for an already busy corridor.
A traffic study found upwards of 11,600 vehicles per day could head to the site. Two intersections that currently operate at “E” grade levels (Greenbrier Parkway/Crossways Boulevard and Greenbrier Parkway/Eden Way) would operate at “F” levels — a worse grade for an intersection — under the new development, the report finds.
In addition, planning staff expressed concern that developers asked to provide more than 1,000 fewer parking spaces than required by city zoning law.
In an effort to solve city concerns, Seritage committed to building a parking deck if parking becomes a concern, while also re-striping the southbound approach to the intersection of River Birch Run and Eden Way.
It wasn’t enough for the Planning Commission.
“We keep adding more and more and more,” said commissioner Shelley Deneau, referring to the traffic.
She also took issue with the fact that nearby apartments were not notified with Rosie’s hours of 8 a.m. till 2 a.m.
“I don’t believe it is the right fit,” said Commissioner Harold Gilbert. “I will not vote on it tonight or whether we do it 60 days from now.
Still others like commissioner Marty Williams, who admitted he is a Rosie’s fan, requested the developer refine the proposal when they return.
Developers, however, strongly suggested there were no other options.
“For the last four years our leasing team has been trying to market this property with no success. There is no plan B!” Robert Ursini, a development consultant with Seritage, told commissioners.
Grady Palmer, the attorney representing Seritage, mentioned that the vendors of Greenbrier Mall really are excited about the idea of filling a vacant anchor store.
Sears closed its Greenbrier Mall location in 2018 after nearly 40 years in the spot. It opened with the mall in the early 1980s.
With brick and mortar retail struggling, Seritage bought the property in 2015 with a mission to “create and own revitalized shopping, dining, entertainment and mixed-use destinations that provide enriched experiences for consumers and local communities and create long-term value for our shareholders.”
“I really believe that a vote … for this project is a vote to save Greenbrier Mall,” Ursini said.