De­vel­op­ers of Bris­tol project show de­sign plans for old mall

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - LOCAL PERSPECTIVES - BY DAVID MCGEE

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.

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