Genting Group Gains Approval For Miami Hotel Plans
Malaysian casino operator Genting Group has received approval from city commissioners of Miami-Dade for its plan to build a hotel tower over a Miami bus stop. The commissioners have also not rejected the possibility of a casino being set up within the complex. According to Genting’s lawyer, city officials would need to separately approve a proposal to bring in gambling to the planned hotel building.
Commissioner Joe Martinez said that he was open to the possibility of a casino operating in the complex. According to its agreement with the city, Genting will spend $16 million in upgrading the Omni bus terminal that will include building an air-conditioned shelter. The gaming operator is also required to make a cash payment of $10 million to the city of Miami-Dade before it starts construction .Additionally, Genting will also be handling maintenance for it and the nearby Omni Metromover station
Martinez and other commissioners have hailed the deal as being advantageous for the city. The approval has boosted Genting’s chances to open a casino despite earlier roadblocks. Genting’s earlier plans to build a casino in the county were blocked by the state legislature. In 2011, the gaming operator paid $236 million for the former waterfront office of the Miami Herald and later purchased the adjoining Omni mall complex for $185 million with the intention of developing a full scale casino.
Genting now owns close to 30 acres of key downtown area near the bus stop. The bus stop site itself is however leased to Genting for 90 years. Genting hired a large team of lawyers, lobbyists and consultants as a part of its efforts to gain approval for its proposal. Al Dotson Jr, a leading local contract lawyer and lobbyist, was in charge of the group’s presentation to the commissions and was accompanied by two close associates of Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Jesse Manzano-Plaza, a Genting lobbyist and Ralph Garcia-Toledo.
Given the background, Commissions debated on the processes needed for Genting to receive a license for a casino on the site and considered the possible benefits to the city. Genting’s current deal involves Miami-Dade getting half of the revenue generated from ground-floor retail space. Commissioner Bruno Barreiro noted that a provision could be included that would result in a similar revenue sharing agreement be developed in case a casino gaming floor is built.
Dotson took pains to emphasize that Genting would need to clear a long legal process before a casino could be set up on the site. The legal process would involve a change in Florida law, local license approval and a change in zoning endorsed by the city.
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