New Waterside District now open

WAVY/Matt Gregory

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — After years of work, planning and construction, the new Waterside District is open.

Waterside is holding a soft opening on Thursday, with a grand opening celebration planned for May 11 through May 14. The celebration is scheduled to feature free concerts from Weezer and New Politics.

Gallery: Waterside District set to open in May

Members of the media took a tour on April 24, getting a look at what the 135,000 square foot Waterside will have to offer.

Crews put the finishing touches on the new Waterside District Sunday, April 30, 2017. Credit: WAVY/Kevin Green

More than 14 restaurants and bars will be featured at Waterside, including Guy Fieri’s Smoke House and local restaurants including Big Al’s Wings and Morty’s Deli. Get a full list of restaurants at Waterside on hrScene.com.

Around 1,000 employees have been working at Waterside, between new workers and construction crews.

Dozens of customers swarmed Waterside on Thursday.

“It’s exciting. It’s new. It’s great for Norfolk,” said Marla Seplik, born and raised in Norfolk. “I have a feeling it’s going to work out great, and it’s going to bring in a lot of people and tourists and business people and locals.”

A soft opening allows officials to work out the kinks before the grand celebration next week. Customers say they are already pleased.

“There’s no comparison to this,” George White said. “I don’t want to go back to the old Waterside. I like this one better. just from the new view, from what I’ve seen on TV, I think this will be a big hit.”

But what is different about this incarnation of Waterside? What will make it thrive, where others went empty? Sutch said it’s the manner in which his company, Cordish, operates.

“We come in, we open them, but we don’t leave,” he said. “So we stay. We own and we operate. We make sure we operate to our standards.”