NORFOLK, Va. – Wellness Circle LLC, the group working with famous musician Pharrell Williams, is in preliminary negotiations with the City of Norfolk for plans to redevelop the area surrounding Military Circle, according to Venture Realty Group.
They said the team is very anxious and excited to share their plans with the public as soon as an official decision is made. They are hoping to have more information to release by the end of the summer.
The development team is made up of several different groups, including Williams, Venture Realty Group, Oak View Group, Live Nation, Armada Hoffler Properties, the YMCA of South Hampton Roads, and several others.
News 3 requested interviews and information from the City of Norfolk on Monday regarding the current status of negotiations.
City Manager Dr. Chip Filer issued the following statement: “The city has been evaluating all three of the exciting proposals to redevelop Military Circle Mall. While staff are engaged in more detailed conversations with one developer, it would be incorrect to suggest that a developer has been chosen. Until a mutually agreeable contract is ratified by the Mayor and council at a future meeting, all three proposal remain viable options.”
The Norfolk Economic Development Authority bought most of the area near Military Highway and Virginia Beach Boulevard.
There are currently three proposals on the table. Some big names are part of redevelopment efforts, including NFL legend Emmitt Smith and Williams.
Plans for the “Wellness Circle” include a medical campus, homes, retail, and a hotel. The development team had previously stated in a letter to the city that they wanted to “transform an underperforming and aging Norfolk landmark into a holistic and vibrant wellness-centered community.”
It also calls for an arena and community space, including a YMCA and a wellness loop. The development team stated the “Wellness Loop is a one-mile trail that re-imagines the suburban Ring Road as a beautifully landscaped multipurpose trail, providing access and connectivity throughout the entire development.”
It stated the quality of life in the community will result from a dense, vibrant, inclusive and walkable open and green urban core with ample community and public spaces.
Other project components include over 4.6 million SF of mixed-use development, including spaces for offices, housing, education, retail, food and beverage, as well as an arena and a hotel.
Smith presented the “Crossroads” proposal in Norfolk several months ago. It includes an arena, a sports complex, a hotel, homes and businesses.
There would also be a park, open space and paths for walking and biking.
Another proposal is called “The Well.” There would be a lake, parks and open space, as well as plans for an outdoor amphitheater and a rec center. The homes will include senior housing.
News 3 previously spoke to many people about the plans.
John Griffin said he supports the idea of a makeover. He said he spent years at Military Circle Mall, which used to be a popular attraction. But today, many people call it an eyesore.
Philip Scottie is the owner of the five Philip Michael Fashion for Men locations, one of which is across the street from Military Circle Mall. He loves the idea of redevelopment in the area and believes it would help his business.
"I do like that they would have a sports complex, housing, and retail. I think that mix would be dynamite for the area," Scottie said."It will definitely increase visibility for our business. It’ll increase traffic."