On Tuesday, American Dream Miami moved a little closer to reality.
Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet signed off on the land deal that could pave the way for the nation’s largest mall in West Miami-Dade County.
Triple Five, the real estate development firm that owns and operates Minnesota’s Mall of America, will develop the proposed $4 billion mega-mall/entertainment center.
Speaking at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting was Eskandar Ghermezian, one of the billionaire Canadian brothers who own Triple Five. After making a passionate case to lawmakers to approve the deal, Ghermezian, who is currently under medical care, had been rushed to the hospital with acute high blood pressure.
The 82-acre land deal approved by Scott and the Cabinet will have Triple Five paying nearly $20 million for state-owned property at the intersection of I-75, Florida’s Turnpike and Northwest 170th Street in Miami-Dade County.
Counties often get first opportunity to purchase land within their boundaries deemed surplus by the State of Florida.
The Triple Five deal, pushed by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, sought state approval to have the county buy the parcel and sell it to developers.
At 4-million-square-feet, American Dream Miami would be larger than Mall of America, which attracts as many as 40 million visitors a year. Plans for the mall include the world’s largest indoor ski slope, a skating rink, and an indoor water park using water from the City of Hialeah.
A key part of the agreement rests with how many construction and permanent jobs the new mega-mall will create. Developers tout that number at 20,000 construction and another 25,000 permanent jobs at American Dream Miami; an earlier contract negotiated with Gimenez required 7,500 jobs by 2030 or face a $5 million fine.
The proposal also raised the ire of competing regional shopping centers.
Operators of Sawgrass Mills and Aventura Malls, with the help of some high-profile Tallahassee lobbyists, attempted to block Cabinet approval of the land deal. Their opposition, as well as other regulatory, environmental hurdles, still face the project before South Florida shoppers can begin to enjoy the American Dream.