Eschewing gaming plans,Genting’s new vision calls for luxury hotel, condos

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By the end of this year, the bayfront site where The Miami Herald now stands will be reduced to vacant land ready for redevelopment.

The demolition of the Herald headquarters is the first step in the Genting Group’s plans to turn the site into a luxury hotel with up to 500 rooms and several hundred luxury condos edged by a pedestrian bay walk, said Bill Thompson, senior vice president of development for Resorts World Miami.

With casino gambling on the back burner, Genting is ready to make a commitment to Miami and move ahead with a scaled-down development plan that will start to take shape immediately after the Herald moves out in May.

“We’ve decided to go with a phased approach,” said Thompson, whose career included more than a decade as an executive with the Related Group. “That seems to be more conducive with what’s acceptable in Miami. You start out with the waterfront property and that improves the value across everything else. Then you stay fluid based on what’s happening in the marketplace.”

By the end of this year, Genting expects to sign an operating agreement with a luxury hotelier of at least four-star caliber, Thompson said. In 2014, marketing is likely to begin on the sale of two buildings of luxury condominiums, each with several hundred units.

The preliminary plans are far more modest than the grandiose $3.8 billion project the Malaysian conglomerate originally unveiled in 2011. The original design would have included a curvilinear design, 5,200 hotel rooms and the world’s largest casino.But efforts to change Florida law to allow resort casinos have been unsuccessful, and for now, Genting only plans to utilize less than half of the 13.9-acre site it purchased nearly two years ago for $236 million from Herald parent McClatchy Co.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.