Wednesday, May 18, 2022
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Cordish Suffered Legal Setback, Case against Norfolk Dismissed

The Cordish Companies, the real estate developer of the Waterside District in Norfolk, Virginia, saw its legal case against the city dismissed after a Richmond judge ruled that “agreement to agree” creates no obligation under Virginia Law.

Agreement Language ‘Unenforceable’

Dismissing the Cordish lawsuit against the city of Norfolk for allegedly breaching their agreement by partnering with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe to open the tribe’s waterside casino, Judge Bradley Cavedo wrote in an order signed April 7:

The language found in § 10.2.1 of the lease agreement is not a condition precedent, but a mere agreement to agree, which is unenforceable under Virginia Law.

In essence, the judge stated that the “agreement to agree” with Cordish created no obligation on the part of the city and Norfolk Redevelopment Housing Authority.

Cordish claimed Norfolk’s deal with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe to allow the tribe’s waterfront gambling resort, HeadWaters Resort and Casino, located less than a mile away from the Waterside District violated the city’s lease agreement with the Baltimore-based developer.

In 2013, Cordish overhauled the ailing city’s Waterside District and ever since has been vowing to build its own casino there. Following the gambling expansion approval at the November 2020 Referendum, the developer threatened to launch legal actions against Norfolk for breaching its exclusive agreement with Cordish by awarding the license to the Pamunkey tribe.

Seeking Compensation through the Courts

In June 2021, threats for legal actions materialized as Cordish filed a lawsuit against the city in the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond, seeking compensation of $100 million for the lost casino bid, claiming the business had “suffered significant damages.”

Cordish also claimed it had the first right to a casino in Norfolk as part of the Waterside District agreement, stating the casino was the main determinant behind the company’s decision to revitalize the marketplace which was constantly losing money and on the brink of imploding. That claim was outright dismissed by the city as a lie, threatening to sue back Cordish for defamation.

The Pamunkey’s HeadWater Resort and Casino is expected to open to the public in 2024.

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