Kendall Town Center project could prompt $12 million in roadwork
By Sherri C. Ranta
The Rouse Co.'s Kendall Town Center, a 160-acre mixed-use office, retail and shopping project planned at Kendall Drive and Southwest 157th Avenue, is expected to have Commissioner Joe Martinez's support when the project comes before the Miami-Dade County Commission for a final vote today (2/22).
Mr. Martinez said this week he is "inclined to vote in favor" of the project in his district because it will create about 4,700 jobs and be a shopping alternative for the West Kendall area. The district has no major malls, he said.
The project, Mr. Martinez said, will also be an alternative to high-density housing that could be built at the site, adding more students to already overcrowded schools.
"I think it will be better for the residents as a whole instead of putting six to 12 residences per acre there," he said.
The land is zoned for residential development, Mr. Martinez said.
Ann Pope, development director for Rouse Co., said her company is hopeful it will gain approval, adding that the Rouse executives planned the project with feedback from community meetings that began a year ago.
Those plans call for 1.3 million square feet of retail, 400,000 of office space, and 200,000 each for a medical center, a senior-assisted living facility and a hotel, Ms. Pope said.
Executives from Burdines, Sears and Dillards have signed letters of confirmation to become anchor stores, she said. She said Rouse officials are talking to Baptist Hospital of Miami about a possible Baptist-run urgent care facility in the medical center.
Other project features, Ms. Pope said, include a 10- to 12-screen movie theater, a bus transportation hub and 10 acres of public green space.
Opponents say the project would increase area traffic and take business from West Kendall-based mom-and-pop stores.
When considering the project, commissioners must approve changes to a county Comprehensive Development Master Plan and change the zoning to commercial, retail and office use.
The commission must also approve development requirements, such as road improvements.
Because of its size, the project needed a state-approved Development of Regional Impact. The project and certain conditions were approved by the state and the South Florida Regional Planning Council.
Ms. Pope said requirements include more than $12 million in developer-paid road improvements to the area, including several road-widening projects. Among them, Kendall Drive would be widened to six lanes from Southwest 157th to 150th avenues, she said
If approved, construction could begin this year, with all phases complete by 2008.
According to the Development of Regional Impact assessment compiled by the South Florida Regional Planning Council, Kendall Town Center would generate up to 4,749 direct and 4,160 indirect jobs in the region with an estimated value of about $250 million in annual wages. In addition, 3,215 construction workers would be needed.
The project would also add as much as $430 million in value to the regional economy each year and provide the county an estimated $3.67 million in ad valorem taxes annually, the report states.