PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The leaders of Portsmouth's casino project marked another milestone on Tuesday morning.
At a topping-off ceremony, construction crews placed the final, yellow, steel beam into place, marking the completion of the steel framing for the future Rivers Casino Portsmouth.
The yellow steel beam was signed by city, state, and casino leaders, marking their names into history. One of them was Senator L. Louise Lucas.
“I am extremely honored to be here to sign my name on that beam because long after I’m gone, my name is going to be inside of this casino,” she said.
Several construction workers on the project also added their names to it. It serves as a reminder of who helped get the project up and running.
Crews first broke ground on the casino less than six months ago, in December of 2021, at the intersection of Victory Boulevard and Freedom Avenue.
"We began moving dirt and setting the stage less than a year ago, and we are making great progress," said Justin Ballard with S.B. Ballard Construction Company in a news release. "Despite supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic, we are still on track to complete this project [in] early 2023."
Roy Corby, the general manager for Rivers Casino Portsmouth said it will be the first casino in the Commonwealth. The project is set to bring 1,300 permanent jobs to the city and generate $16 million in annual tax revenue.
“That means something to us," Corby said. "We’re a part of the community and we want to memorialize that we’ll always be here."
Senator Lucas said this project took decades to bring to Virginia.
“It took 22 years to get a bill passed so that we could have a casino in Virginia,” she said.
Watching the project move forward brings much excitement for many. Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover said this section of the city will look much different over the next few years.
“This is our entertainment district," he said. "So as the casino goes, so will this whole area and it will bring different opportunities for folks to come here, enjoy and learn about the history port city.”
Corby said next, construction crews will work on the inside of the structure and start the drywall process. Though, he said the main focus is hiring employees ahead of the casino grand opening.
Rivers Casino Portsmouth is hosting a series of job fairs -- one per month -- over the next five months, beginning May 12 at Tidewater Community College's Portsmouth Campus.