Resorts World Miami parent developer Genting Group wants to expand the city’s monorail to Miami Beach. Last week, the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners signed off on allocating $14 million for a detailed design of the roughly four-mile extension.
Ten of the 12 Miami-Dade commissioners voted in favor of contracting engineers. They would be tasked to review the feasibility of extending the Miami Metromover from Adrienne Arsht Center/Omni Terminal east via the MacArthur Causeway to Miami Beach.
Malaysia-based Genting, which owns and operates casino resorts in Malaysia, UK, Philippines, and the US, is behind the effort to link South Beach to downtown Miami. The conglomerate paid $236 million in 2011 for 30 acres of land located between MacArthur Causeway and NE 15th Street. Part of the land was previously the home of the Miami Herald, its address One Herald Plaza.
Genting has for years campaigned for Florida lawmakers to end the Seminole Tribe’s monopoly on gambling, and welcome in commercial casino operators. If that should happen, Genting has expressed interest in building a Resorts World-branded multibillion-dollar integrated resort casino on its undeveloped land.
Metromover is a free transportation service that runs seven days a week in the downtown Miami area. Its major destinations include American Airlines Arena, Bayside Marketplace, and Miami-Dade College.
Providing free transportation from various parts of downtown Miami to Miami Beach has received hostility among those across Biscayne Bay on the white sandy beaches. Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber (D) urged the Miami-Dade Board of Commissioners to reject the $14 million Metromover study.
[Commissioners] rushed into a plan that we will likely be living with for decades, if not generations,” Gelber declared.
In 2019, the Miami Beach mayor opined that “gambling is an existential threat to our community fabric and our quality of life.
I believe that most or all of my Commission will strenuously object to any plan that might allow for, or even contemplate, a casino that is placed nearby or that is actually tethered to our community,” Gelber said in a letter to the Miami-Dade commissioners. “Our City has for many years opposed casino gaming within our city limits or outside our gateways.”
Genting has offered to provide the upfront funds for the Metromover line to Miami Beach, which could cost up to $700 million. Genting, along with Meridiam would provide the funding for the extension, and then receive approximately $60 million a year from Miami-Dade. Meridiam is a French firm that invests in infrastructure.
The final contractual arrangement would be decided should the county decide to move forward with the project.
The monorail extension would allow Genting’s proposed Resorts World Miami complex to offer guests beachfront access via a short ride on the Metromover. Funding the infrastructure could sway public opinion on Genting’s commercial gambling effort, and prompt state lawmakers to push legislation in the Tallahassee capital to end the Seminole’s reign.
The Miami-Dade Board of Commissioners expects the monorail feasibility study to take 18 months to complete.