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Old Posted Apr 6, 2015, 1:02 AM
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chris08876 chris08876 is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2013
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Article talking about opposition, and the potential congestion which is the big issue.

Also the foreshadowing of an interchange being built.

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Proposed mega mall near Miami, which would be the nation's largest, promises jobs, congestion

The question — and, even more so, his own answer — made Omar Olivera sigh heavily. But, yeah, he reluctantly admitted, having a giant shopping mall with a water park, a ski slope and a submarine ride in Northwest Miami-Dade County would be great. Even if it obliterates the pretty, winding canal in which he had just caught a fat bass with his fishing pole.

"If it does a good job of bringing in dollars, I'd say that mall is a net plus, even though it will be sad to lose all this," Olivera said as he methodically plucked the hook from the fish's mouth. "I understand people are worried about the traffic it will bring. But the biggest mall in America is bound to bring a lot of dollars, too."

The canal where Olivera was fishing meanders through an unnamed and unincorporated residential area perched on the eastern edge of Interstate 75. It will be Ground Zero for any fallout if the plans announced earlier this month for the construction of the largest shopping mall in North America come to fruition.

American Dream Miami, as the $4 billion project is called, will include several amusement parks as well as hotels and condos on 200 acres tucked into a triangular area bounded roughly by I-75, Florida's Turnpike and Northwest 170th Street.

I-75 is currently the edge of civilization in that part of the county. To its west is the proposed mall site, a mostly empty tract of woods, scrub brush and drowsily grazing dairy cows. To its east lies the nameless suburban subdivision in which Olivera, a 31-year-old salesman who lives a couple of miles away in Hialeah, was fishing.

Many of the residents in the subdivision believe the mall will be a lively addition to a suburban neighborhood nestled along the highway between Northwest 170th and 181st streets — a neighborhood that is lovely and bucolic, but that in their estimation can also be a little dull.

And even those who hate the idea of a 200-acre shopping mall going up a stone's throw away (provided the stone is thrown by Dan Marino) seem resigned to the idea that it's futile to resist a project that will inject something between 7,500 and 20,000 jobs into an uncertain local economy.

"The county's going ahead with it," concedes Pat Collado, a paralegal who heads the Palm Springs North Civic Association, which includes the neighborhood. "There's just too much money involved. . We hope they just don't kill us with traffic so that we can't move around our own neighborhood."

If organized opposition to the mall should arise, it will almost certainly be due to traffic, because American Dream Miami will bring a lot of it. Triple Five, the multinational company behind the project, says American Dream Miami will be the biggest of its shopping properties, which include the Mall of America near Minneapolis (40 million annual visitors) and the West Edmonton Mall in Canada (30 million).

Right now, the site is served by only one highway exit: Northwest 183rd Street, off I-75 — which raises the specter of a dystopia in which the better part of 40-million-plus shoppers are careening through the surface streets of a neighborhood as they try to reach the mall.

"It's going to be war!" exclaims day care center operator Angela Ortega, 52, a mall opponent who was standing in her front yard a few blocks from the mall site one recent afternoon, gesturing in frustration at the long line of vehicles exiting from one of the eight schools in the area.

"Look at the traffic we have now. And every day it's worse."


A spokesman for Triple Five, which has tried to keep a low profile since the plans for the mall were disclosed earlier this month, refused to comment about potential traffic problems and solutions. But Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Martinelli confirmed that FDOT has been talking with Triple Five for about a year, and the developer has provided detailed estimates about the traffic it expects the mall to generate.

"So right now the department is in the process of evaluating those preliminary traffic projections," Martinelli said. "Based on that, we will make some recommendations from an engineering angle." He said it's too early to provide any details.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, a strong supporter of the mall, said "some kind of interchange" will be built. "But you've got to do it so people who want to get into the mall can do it without going east into the neighborhoods along I-75."

Complicating the discussion is the locally infamous "bridge to nowhere" on 170th Street, long a point of contention in the neighborhood. Built in the mid-1980s for reasons nobody can exactly remember, the bridge extends 170th Street — a two-lane residential street running along a canal and a hiking path — over I-75 and into the area where the mall will be built. Once it passes over I-75, the street turns from pavement into a dirt road, then peters out altogether a couple of hundred yards before it reaches the Turnpike.

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