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Norfolk Economic Development Director Sean Washington says economic conditions have changed dramatically since 2021.

That’s when Norfolk received proposals from developers for what would have been massive overhauls of the defunct Military Circle Mall. 

Those proposals came from groups including Virginia Beach developer Bruce Thompson and music superstar Pharrell Williams.

They included plans for hotels, parks, retail and even full-scale arenas.

But Washington noted that the pitches also included hundreds of thousands of square feet of office space — a sector that’s taken a massive hit in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

As a result, those proposals as written are dead in the water.

"What was submitted back in 2021, we know that they can't bring that to market currently,” Washington said after a presentation to Norfolk's City Council. "They're kind of on the shelf at the moment."

Washington said a Veterans Affairs facility that had been eyed for the property also won’t move forward. And a study for an extension of the Tide light rail line up to Military Circle is on hold until plans for the redevelopment firm up.

The 97-acre city-owned Military Circle Mall property has been a high-profile target for redevelopment, in part due to the location boasting the highest elevations in a city struggling against sea level rise. 

Washington said his office is going back out to talk with those developers and others in the private sector to “get a feel” for what may be feasible. He said the focus will be on health and wellness, to complement the Sentara Health office complex on the property, which would be integrated into any future developments there.

The mall itself now has just a couple tenants left — a Ross clothing store, a childcare center and a Mongolian barbecue restaurant.

Washington told Norfolk’s City Council at a retreat Monday the mall itself is set to be demolished by sometime in mid 2025.