Even without casino gambling, Genting Group said Tuesday it is moving ahead with a dramatically scaled down mixed-use plan for Resorts World Miami.
The five acres where The Miami Herald currently sits would become the site for a five-star luxury hotel, luxury condominiums, waterfront restaurants, some limited retail and an 800-foot long promenade along Biscayne Bay.
It’s still too early to tell exactly what it would look like because the project is being designed by Miami’s Arquitectonica. There are no renderings available, no specifics about the size of any of the elements or any idea what would happen to the rest of the 13.9 acres on the Herald site.
“With more and more people traveling to downtown Miami and a growing number of residents calling the area home, we are going to seize the opportunity to convert this prime piece of bayfront land into the centerpiece of a thriving neighborhood.” Bernardo Fort-Brescia, co-founder and principal of Miami-based Arquitectonica, said in a statement released by Resorts World Miami.
Early indications are that this version of Resorts World Miami will be a far cry from the original $3.8 billion project with 5,200 hotel rooms, the world’s largest casino, more than 50 restaurants and bars and a retail shopping mall. That plan drew the ire of many community leaders for the being out of scale with the neighborhood surrounding the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and having the potential to create a traffic nightmare.
“It sounds more modest and more reasonable; somebody is listening,” said Jack Lowell, a Miami commercial broker who was a Genting advocate in the business community. “I think it is also reflective of the current market and seems to make some sense.”
The first inkling of Genting’s latest plan comes about six weeks after the Florida Legislature shut down efforts to approve destination resorts in South Florida. A proposal can be revived next year.
Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, whose district includes the site, said he has been told renderings will be available in 30 to 60 days. During meetings with Genting, Sarnoff was told the project would include a pedestal with two or three towers on top. But the design would not include the futuristic look of the original project with irregular shapes designed to resemble a coral reef.
“I’m expecting to see a lot of rectangles with some architectural nuance to it,” Sarnoff said. “You could build the fish with casino gambling, because gambling allows you to do anything. It covers up all your mistakes. I like to see people build efficient buildings. These buildings will work across the board. They’re coming back with a footprint that is more germane for the way things get built in Miami.”
The new vision is also good news to Arsht Center leaders, who had been among the biggest critics of the original Genting plan because of the potential impact it would have on their facility.
“I think the Arsht Center and the neighborhood would benefit from that kind of development,” said Armando Codina, chairman of the Town Square Neighborhood Development Corp, the nonprofit created to protect the interests of the Arsht Center and the surrounding area. “It would be a very welcome addition. I just hope that the addition to the tax base will be used by the CRA to meaningfully improve the rest of the neighborhood.”