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Southwest Virginia's Bristol Casino Moving Forward With $110M Building Effort

Tue September 19, 2023 - Southeast Edition #25
Kingsport Times News & WCYB-TV


The former shopping center property is set to be turned into the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol, complete with two hotel towers, a pool, a live music venue, restaurants, shops and a convention center. The first phase of the hotel will include 303 guest rooms, a spa, gym and an indoor and outdoor pool. (Hard Rock Hotel rendering)
The former shopping center property is set to be turned into the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol, complete with two hotel towers, a pool, a live music venue, restaurants, shops and a convention center. The first phase of the hotel will include 303 guest rooms, a spa, gym and an indoor and outdoor pool. (Hard Rock Hotel rendering)

The developers of the Bristol Casino in southwestern Virginia are moving forward with the first phase of their construction plans after recently filing for a building permit for a 661,713-sq.-ft. resort and six-story hotel.

According to a building permit reviewed by the Kingsport Times News, the city of Bristol issued the permit Aug. 24 for the project valued at $110 million. The owner, Bristol Mall Holding Co. LCC, also paid a filing fee of $50,000.

The newspaper, based in nearby Kingsport, Tenn., had previously reported the total cost for the permanent casino facility to be more than $500 million.

The casino is located at 500 Gate City Highway, on the former site of the Bristol Mall. Construction for the hotel and resort is already becoming visible from the road, a sign of progress for many Bristol visitors and residents.

The former shopping center property is set to be turned into the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol, complete with two hotel towers, a pool, a live music venue, restaurants, shops and a convention center. The first phase of the hotel will include 303 guest rooms, a spa, gym and an indoor and outdoor pool.

"The construction at the Hard Rock Resort & Casino in Bristol is moving fast, with a shell of a large building visible from the road," Neal Osborne, Bristol's mayor, told the Times News. "This is incredibly exciting for our city. Over the past year or so, we've seen the tremendous positive impact Hard Rock has had on Bristol, from a spike in tourism, to increased tax revenues for the entire region, to philanthropic contributions to area nonprofits."

The project is being built and managed by TN Ward Company, based in Ardmore, Pa., and BurWil Construction from Bristol, Tenn., just across the state border from its twin city in Virginia.

TN Ward has experience working on other Hard Rock Casino projects, with its most recent being the Hard Rock Casino in Gary, Ind. in 2021.

BurWil Construction's projects include the newly renovated D.P. Culp Center at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tenn.

First Phase of Construction Well Under Way

The Kingsport Times News noted that the Bristol Casino's development team had already poured the foundation and began to erect steel at the site earlier this summer.

As construction continues on the destination resort, many in the area are wondering if the project is still on schedule.

Allie Evangelista, president of the Bristol Casino, answered that question when she told WCYB-TV in Bristol that the project's plans have remained on track. She added that while it may seem quiet on the outside, crews have been very busy inside building the Hard Rock entertainment facility.

She expects the first phase of the hotel to finish by the summer of 2024.

"It's going great. I had an opportunity to tour the facility where the permanent site is going to be developed," she explained. We are going to be located at the [site of the] old Sears store, so that store no longer looks like [it was once part of] a mall."

In the weeks prior to her site visit, Evangelista noted, contractors gutted and demolished the old Bristol Mall.

Bristol Residents Eagerly Await Resort's Opening

Evangelista is not the only one looking forward to the casino's completion.

Scott Trotter is a manager at Lucky Lady Gold and Jewelry Exchange, located just across from the planned casino on Gate City Highway. He told WCYB-TV that he has already seen an increase in foot traffic in and around his shop.

"We are just glad to be here and glad to be able to capitalize on the fact there's a casino across the street," he said.

He is hoping the store hits the jackpot when Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Bristol is finally unveiled.

Trotter added that he is interested to see how much business he will get once Hard Rock's 800-room hotel opens. He also believes it is a lucky break that the first of the two hotel towers will be directly facing his shop.

"A rising tide lifts all boats, and this casino is a game changer," Osborne said. "I look forward to seeing its completion over the next year, along with residents of Bristol [and] the rest of the Mountain Empire getting to enjoy the full Hard Rock experience."




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