Pharrell, Emmitt Smith back competing mall redevelopment plans

Proposals from rapper, NFL Hall of Famer include arenas and hundreds of apartments at Virginia complex

Pharrell Williams, Emmitt Smith and a rendering of two proposals of Military Circle Mall (Getty, Norfolk Development)
Pharrell Williams, Emmitt Smith and a rendering of two proposals of Military Circle Mall (Getty, Norfolk Development)

Pharrell Williams and Emmitt Smith are among the investors vying for the right to redevelop a mall in Norfolk, Virginia.
The rapper and NFL Hall of Fame running back are on competing development teams for the project at the Military Circle Mall, according to the Virginian-Pilot. Slammed by the pandemic, malls are gaining renewed attention as potentials for massive redevelopment.

Williams, a Virginia Beach native, is part of a team that includes developers Armada Hoffler and Venture Realty Group. Their $1.1 billion Wellness Circle proposal includes 1 million square feet of office space and medical facilities, a 200-room hotel, and 1,143 residential units, including 288 set aside as affordable.

It would also include an arena with up to 16,500 seats and a private school called YELLOW School backed by Williams’ nonprofit of the same name.

Williams could use some good news. Just a few months after opening Goodtime Hotel in Miami Beach, he and hospitality mogul David Grutman were at risk of losing parts of the property’s conditional use permit following nearly 30 noise violations, The Real Deal reported last month.

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Smith and fellow NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter are investors in Crossroads Partnership. The team comprises 10 companies, including local developer S.B. Ballard Construction.

Crossroads’ proposal includes 987 residential units, a 128-room hotel, a 15,000-seat arena and an unspecified amount of office space anchored by Sentara Healthcare.

In addition to the Williams and Smith proposals, Norfolk’s economic development department also released details from a third finalist to redevelop the sprawling property. That third proposal comes from Norfolk MC Associates.
It includes an artificial nine-acre lake at the center of the development with 477,000 square feet of office space, 159,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space, 864 residential units, and a 200-room hotel. Instead of building an indoor arena, Norfolk MC Associates wants to build a 5,000-seat amphitheater.

Plans were not known about the fourth finalist, which is a team composed of 14 companies.

[VP] — Dennis Lynch 

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