NORFOLK, Va. — The City of Norfolk is in initial discussions with Pharrell Williams and his group, the Wellness Circle, on their proposal to redevelop Military Circle Mall, City Manager Chip Filer confirmed Tuesday afternoon.
Filer said in a statement that the parties are negotiating terms of a deal that would bring a "world-class arena, affordable housing and more to the site."
"We are making good progress and I want to thank the individuals on the Wellness team for their steadfast commitment to the project," Filer said in a statement.
"I look forward to finishing these initial discussions and moving on to the completion of the traffic analysis, economic impact and other studies needed to bring the project to life.”
Filer's statement came after reporters asked Williams about the project during opening events of Mighty Dream, a three-day business forum in Downtown Norfolk.
“As far as I know, we got it," Pharrell said. "I’ve been told many times we won it. There are some gatekeepers not necessarily happy about that, so they make trouble and kick up dust."
The proposal features an entertainment arena, retail space, office space, restaurants, and outdoor space that promotes exercise and social engagement.
This proposal would create a 15,400-16,500 seat arena, a green path circling the area, 500,000 square feet of offices and 200,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.
Pharrell presented his proposal to city officials in February, days after two other developers, Crossroads Partnership LLC and Norfolk MC Associates LLC, shared their ideas.
When asked about a timeline for the project, Pharrell said he wished he had one.
"You'll have to ask the city," Pharrell said.
Local real estate giant and investor Bruce Thompson, who also had demonstrated interest in redevelopment, responded to the announcement on Tuesday afternoon.
“Pharrell has a bold and ambitious plan. If they can execute, it will be great for the city of Norfolk and we wish them well," Thompson said in a statement.
"If his vision proves to not be economically viable for the developer and taxpayer, we would welcome the opportunity to revisit our vision that would be a model community for the country that showcases how diversity and inclusion, economic development and environmental sustainability can co-exist in one urban renewal development plan."
City officials are planning to demolish Military Circle Mall next year to make way for redevelopment. In August, tenants got a notice from the city to vacate by Dec. 31, but the deadline was extended to Feb. 15, 2023.