BRISTOL, VA. (WJHL)- Transforming an old mall into a destination casino and resort? Hard Rock executives say it can be done – and you won’t recognize it once they’re finished.
“I would say absolutely unrecognizable,” said Jon Lucas, chief operating officer for Hard Rock.
Hard Rock’s 3D model and floorplans show a casino with 1,500 slots, 55 table games, and a sports book. They plan to build a hotel tower with at least 300 rooms, a resort-style pool, and 50,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
The resort with also feature a spa, fitness center, retail shops, and county music and nighttime experiences. They also anticipate building seven restaurants, ranging from a steakhouse to a barbeque spot.
Hard Rock officials said there will be activities for families that don’t involve gambling.
“We’ll have some opportunities for a third party to come in, such as Top Golf, or a racing experience, partnering with some of those types of companies,” said Lucas.
All of this will be in addition to a 3,200 seat indoor concert venue, and outdoor venue for 20,000.
News Channel 11 asked officials how loud concerts will be.
“I guess it’s not any louder than Bristol Motor Speedway when they’re racing around that track, right?” said Lucas. “The amphitheater faces towards the woods I think, and not necessarily the other way, so I think that helps too.”
Hard Rock also plans to do a study on how the resort will affect traffic patterns on the surrounding roads.
“They’ll look at the traffic lights, they’ll look at the turns, that we have turn lanes that are appropriate for the facility. So all of that will be factored in to make sure that we have the easiest way for customers to get in and out of the property and it doesn’t have any real impact of the community itself,” said Sean Caffery, senior vice president of business and casino development.
Officials said much of the mall’s interior will be gutted for improvements as they transform it into a resort. However, at least one familiar feature will stay – the walls of tiles painted by Bristol children.
While they might have to be moved during construction, officials said the tiles will be preserved and present once the finished property opens – which could be late 2022.
None of the plans for the property are certain. Hard Rock’s ability to build the project will depend on the decision of voters during Bristol, Virginia’s November 3rd referendum.