Commissioner targets entertainment district at ZooMiami
By Ashley Hopkins
As casino talks sweep Miami-Dade, Commissioner Dennis Moss is continuing his push for county development, beginning with an entertainment district at ZooMiami and a mega-shopping mall along State Road 836.
After Dania Beach's iconic wooden rollercoaster, Hurricane, ground to halt, the county commission has been discussing plans to create an entertainment district at ZooMiami. In July the commission approved an item directing Mayor Carlos Gimenez to investigate the feasibility of relocating the coaster to the zoo, creating what Mr. Moss called Miami-Dade's version of Universal Studios.
Since Mr. Moss began his push, bills to allow three massive casinos have been filed in the state House and Senate. Malaysia-based Genting Group is seeking a $3.8 billion, 10 million-square foot Resorts World Miami casino in the Omni area. Other casinos also bank on state OK to open.
In light of recent casino talks, Mr. Moss says he plans to speak with Genting and other major developers to gage their interest in contributing to the development.
"We're open to talk to any major developers who are looking to come and do a major development in the area," he said, adding that bringing the attraction to the zoo could create additional jobs.
Mr. Moss said he also plans to bring results of a study looking into the feasibility of creating a large-scale shopping district in Doral to the commission's attention in upcoming weeks.
In June 2009, Mr. Moss asked then county manager George Burgess to conduct the study in hopes of finding developers to create a Sawgrass-style mall in the area, complete with retail, restaurants, housing and hotels.
When the issue came before the commission in July 2010, Mr. Burgess recommended the commission hold off on the study due to the struggling economy.
Despite the setback, the commission approved the study last December in hopes that since the area is home to both Dolphin Mall and the Mall of the Americas, expanding could create jobs and increase tourism to Miami-Dade.
While the report's release was delayed due to county redistricting efforts, the final document released last summer said the county must figure out what transportation would be required to support and enhance existing and targeted retail/entertainment development opportunities in west Miami-Dade.
As traffic congestion continues to be a problem throughout the area, expanding construction throughout the western side of the county would "exacerbate the problem," the report says. It recommends the county analyze traffic to find ways to cut congestion.
Beyond that, further analysis in the study said a shopping district is unlikely to take the form of a traditional mall, but that bringing in a mix of retailers not currently in the market could complement new hotels, restaurants, clubs and activities.
"I feel it has a great deal of potential as a study," Mr. Moss said, adding that it could draw interest from a number of developers who are "snooping around the community" for potential deals. "I think it's something that is worth looking at."
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