NORFOLK--Developer Bruce Thompson announced Tuesday that construction on a new Hilton Hotel and Convention Center in downtown Norfolk is expected to begin this January.
The $126 million, 23-story complex will be built on an empty lot located at Granby and Main streets. It will add 300 luxury hotel rooms and 50,000 square feet of conference space.
Construction is expected to create about 500 jobs and nearly 300 workers will have permanent employment at the hotel and convention center.
"The reason why we moved so quickly is because the cooperation from city of Norfolk staff has been unparalleled in my experience," Thompson said.
The initial drawings will come out in mid-October. Thompson explained the design will be similar to Grand Central Station in New York City. The goal of the unique center is to be able to compete with Richmond, Raleigh and Atlanta to attract conferences.
"We are going to be respectful to the seaport town, but bring forward a design that is contemporary and different from anything in the region."
The city has put $89 million into the project.
Councilwoman Teresa Whibley said she is concerned about the architecture because Norfolk is a historic district.
"As fast as this is moving, we need to take some pause to make sure the design keeps with the community wants to see," Whibley said.
Thompson said all designers had a briefing on the history of downtown Norfolk.
The hotel would be as tall as Norfolk's Dominion Tower and will house three to four restaurants.
Thompson has hired Cooper Carey Architectural firm and WM Jordan as the contractor.