Developers of Bristol project show design plans for old mall
BRISTOL — Developers of the proposed $50 million Bristol Resort and Casino have released concept drawings of how a reconfigured Bristol Mall might appear.
The designs show the gaming area in the former two-story J.C. Penney department store along the mall’s front entrance. An expansive family amusement area is shown in the former Sears location, and the proposed convention center is shown in the two-level, former Belk women’s fashion store on the mall’s opposite end. A high-rise hotel is proposed near the mall’s former rear entrance, near the former T. Gordon’s restaurant site.
The other former Belk location — which once housed the men’s store — is depicted as a spa and would also be connected to the hotel. Buffet dining is planned for the lower level space. The nearby former cafeteria is also penciled in as a restaurant.
“We plan to build a destination resort that will attract visitors from across the region and beyond,” spokesman Rob Jones said in an email. “While the casino is a part of this project, it is a small part, comprising about only 10 percent of the overall floor space once completed. Importantly, this will be a family-friendly resort with lots of amenities and attractions that appeal to the entire family, locals and visitors alike.”
The artist renderings also show areas for live music performances in the former movie theater spaces on the ground floor.
The project is forecast to employ about 2,000 initially and increase to about 5,000 within seven years.
Like the rest of the 550,000-square-foot facility, the family amusement area plans are evolving, but multiple possibilities are on the drawing board, according to Jones.
He added that it’s important to remember everything is just a plan right now, since the casino portion of the project has hurdles to clear before anything can occur. The development group, led by local business owners Jim McGlothlin and Clyde Stacy, has said that if the project isn’t approved in early 2019, the concept will be scrapped because nearby states are also considering casino approvals.
The city government supports the project, but it can’t move forward without the General Assembly’s blessing and approval from Bristol voters in a local referendum.