Miami-Dade gets rent check from casino giant Genting for $10 million
Miami-Dade got a big check in the mail last week: $10 million from the Genting Group as part of the Malaysian casino giant’s nearly century-long rental of space above an Omni bus station north of downtown Miami.
The one-time payment precedes planned construction of a 36-story hotel and retail center on Northeast 14th Terrace. The county and Genting subsidiary Resort World Miami agreed to the terms in April 2017.
Spokesperson Rachel Johnson confirmed Monday that the county had received the money June 2.
In a copy of a letter given to Miami Today, Albert Dotson Jr. of law firm Bilzen Sumberg, which represents Resort World Miami, told county Chief Operations Officer Jimmy Morales, “We know that the county is not accustomed to receiving $10 million rent checks or full pre-paid rent.”
Genting, which spent about $420 million to buy the former Omni mall across the street and the old Miami Herald site to the east, where it has sought to build a vast gambling resort, has a 90-year lease with Miami-Dade for the location, which includes a 25-year renewal option.
The company agreed to upgrade and maintain the nearby Omni bus and Adrienne Arsht Metromover stations, which will get new stairs, air conditioning, elevators, escalators, surveillance systems, flooring, lighting and pedestrian accessibility.
Total improvements to the stations were valued at about $22 million in 2017, according to a memo from former Deputy Mayor Alina Hudak.
Resort World Miami’s construction, to take place on one acre, includes a 300-room hotel, 20 floors of apartments and 5,000 square feet of retail.
The project, which Genting is to fund itself, is expected to create nearly 1,900 jobs during construction and establish 171 direct and 100 indirect jobs after.
Beyond the $10 million payment Genting agreed to in negotiations, the company is to pay the county’s transportation and public works department $100,000 annual rent during construction and the greater of either 50% of gross revenues from the development’s retail portion or $300,000 yearly.
Mr. Dotson acknowledged that the up-front payment was a prerequisite of the deal but said he and others expected Genting, whose “industry has borne the negative impacts of Covid-19 as much as any other,” to ask for rent relief as others have.
“To be candid, once covid hit, and particularly in light of the size of the one-time rent payment, I assumed that Resort World was going to request and receive the same sort of rent relief that has been afforded as a matter of course to so many of the county’s tenants,” he said. “And that assumption was not mine alone – I cannot count the number of times we have been asked by county staff over the past year whether Resort World was really going to be making this payment.”
In an email to Miami Today, a Resort World spokesperson put a different spin on that assumption.
“We are keenly aware of the budget constraints that many are facing due to the pandemic and, while our company has not been immune to those challenges, we want to provide Miami-Dade County with the ability to invest $10 million back into the community right away,” the email said. “We are deeply invested in the region’s short- and long-term prosperity and look forward to continuing to work with local leaders to deliver on the vision and promise that we all have for Miami.”