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Old Posted Mar 5, 2015, 9:09 PM
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MIAMI | American Dream (Largest U.S. Mall) | FT | FLOORS

Massive retail theme park proposed for Northwest Miami-Dade

FOR RENDERINGS: Refer to the cleaner ones on post #5 and #9.

The company behind the largest mall in America wants to build an even larger one in northwestern Miami-Dade with a massive, 200-acre entertainment complex with submarine rides, a Legoland, sea lions and simulated ski slopes.

Tentatively titled American Dream Miami, the project at the intersection of Florida’s Turnpike and Interstate 75 in could cost as much as $4 billion to construct and probably become the largest private employer in Miami-Dade.

Developer Triple Five is the company behind Minnesota’s Mall of America, the largest shopping center in the world. County officials say the one planned for a site northwest of Miami Lakes would be the largest in Triple Five’s portfolio, meaning Miami-Dade could be home to the country’s largest mall.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Thursday called the planned theme park the largest economic-development project in the county’s history. A proposal submitted to the county predicts 25,000 construction jobs to build the 200-acre complex, and another 25,000 jobs within the attraction itself. From there, Gimenez said he expects local businesses to enjoy a windfall from the theme park.

“It takes a lot of logistics to keep a thing like that going. All the food, and the mechanical equipment, air-conditioning — there’s going to be a huge spin-off,” he said.

The project arrives as Gimenez is gearing up for reelection in 2016 on a theme of expanding prosperity and economic development. It also comes amid a rising debate over congestion on the county’s roadways, and concerns that existing transit systems already are too meager to serve Miami-Dade’s western corridors.

Two other large proposed tourist attractions, Miami Wilds in the south and SkyRise Miami in the east, are already in the works. Tourist attractions and retail outlets traditionally offering some of the lowest-paid jobs in the economy, so the bulk of the theme park’s payroll won’t consist of well-paying jobs at the top of Miami-Dade’s economic wish list.

“There’s going to be a layer of high-paying jobs” in management, said Sean Snaith, an economist at the University of Central Florida, “but the if you’re talking about people working at stores and running amusement park rides, you’re talking about the typical low-paying tourism jobs you find throughout Florida.”

Gimenez said the planned private investment, with no request for local subsidies or tax breaks, will instantly vault Triple 5 into a top taxpayer, with an estimated $50 million yearly bill. He said the ongoing recovery has left out some of the county’s poorest neighborhoods, and residents there will welcome the new employer.

“There are a lot of folks in this town” who see these as good jobs, Gimenez said. “Everybody is focused on high-paying jobs. Not everybody is qualified for them. Twenty-thousand jobs are twenty-thousand jobs.”

County officials said the site sits within Miami-Dade’s Urban Development Boundary, and will require a standard change in zoning to be approved for a theme park.

Triple 5 is counting on an assemblage of private and state-owned land for the project. Much of the acreage comes from the Graham Companies and is currently farmland, according to county officials. About 80 acres of it is owned by Florida but some of that is leased by the county school system.

Triple 5 would pay $7 million to compensate the school system for waiving its lease, and Miami-Dade would then purchase it from the state, county officials said. Triple Five would pay $11 million for the state land, officials said, with Miami-Dade County acting as a pass-through for the transaction. Florida is declaring the land surplus, and Miami-Dade is using its ability to acquire spare property to secure the site for Triple Five under the county’s economic-development ordinance. Miami-Dade would also act as the conduit for Triple 5’s payment to the school board, officials said.

A proposal obtained by The Miami Herald uses the title “Americana World,” but a source close to the talks said the current working title is American Dream Miami. The glossy pictorial shows a sprawling, enclosed theme park mostly insulated from South Florida’s climate. There’s an artificial ski slope, miniature golf, water park, a skating rink, “Art Deco Village,” water park, and a lake with submarines for rides. It also shows a mini Lego theme park within the complex.

Last edited by chris08876; Mar 6, 2015 at 9:16 PM.
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