Miami Ready to Transfer Bay Site to Genting for Marina Development

Posted on: January 3, 2018, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: January 3, 2018, 02:33h.

Genting may have hit nothing but stumbling blocks in its efforts to build a casino in the city of Miami, but the company may finally be in position to begin developing their property, even if gambling won’t be a part of the equation just yet.

resorts world miami
Genting has hoped to build a massive casino resort in Miami since purchasing land there in 2011. (Image: Resorts World Miami/Artist’s Rendering)

Miami’s city commission unanimously approved a transfer of submerged land to Genting, a move that will allow the casino giant to work on building a marina in the bay. Genting, through their subsidiary Resorts World Miami LLC, already owns a valuable stretch of waterfront property where the Miami Herald offices were once located.

The new move will now allow for negotiations between the city and the casino developer over leasing land that is below the ocean. The company has said that they wish to move ahead to construct a marina there, regardless of the ultimate fate of their casino gaming efforts.

State DOT Releases Land Back to City

The delay in even this more modest development plan came down to issues over the ownership of the bottomlands in question. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) had ownership of the plot, which was necessary to build the MacArthur Causeway which leads to Watson Island and Miami Beach.

Before the city could lease the land to Genting, they needed to get it back from the state first. According to a memo detailing the land transfer, this was possible now that the causeway was fully constructed.

“The FDOT has determined the property is no longer needed for the continued maintenance of the MacArthur Causeway and has agreed to convey the property to the city,” read the memo.

Genting Has History of Miami Casino Ambitions

Genting’s efforts to develop the property along the bay go back to 2011, when they first purchased the former site of the Miami Herald for $236 million. At the time, the firm hoped to build Resorts World Miami, a $3 billion luxury casino resort.

But such a plan was going to require some significant changes to Florida law. Efforts to lobby legislators have so far failed, which scrapped those plans, at least for the time being. With that out of the picture, the company then looked to build hotel, retail, and residential space on the property, but those plans also seem to have stalled.

Genting has also tried other creative efforts to build in the area. In 2016, Genting sued Miami-Dade County in an effort to force the state to let it host card games and slots at the site of the Omni retail complex, an adjoining property that the developer had also purchased for an additional $185 million.

Last year, county commissioners endorsed a plan that would allow Genting to build a casino over a Miami bus stop, provided the company spent $16 million upgrading the stop itself and paid the county $10 million in cash.

While the approval did not include using the space for gambling purposes, commissioners acknowledged that they assumed that was the company’s eventual plan, and said they had taken that into consideration when making their decision.