VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Smith brought up questions of racial discrimination, cronyism, and favoritism in a candid letter written to Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms.
The former Washington Redskins defensive end, who lives in Virginia Beach, wrote that he has made multiple attempts to do business as a real estate developer along the Oceanfront, but city leaders have never given him the green light.
"With all of the qualifications I have brought to the table as a developer," Smith wrote, "it is certainly not unfounded that I would ponder the possibility that I am being unfairly marginalized and excluded on the basis of race."
Mayor Sessoms says that he thinks the world of Smith, but that he simply disagreed with his idea of opening a chain restaurant at the Rudee Loop lot near Second Street.
"This being a prime real estate, a Margaritaville [restaurant] in my opinion would not be something I would think would be a right fit for that piece of property," Mayor Sessoms said.
According to Sessoms, the city has successfully been reaching out to minority business owners to open up shop in the resort city.
"Virginia Beach has been reaching out to minority contractors to do more business with the City of Virginia Beach," said Sessoms. "We can show you statistics that have been going this way, have been increasing in the last year or two because of that effort."