MIAMI – A proposed mega-mall in Miami-Dade County moved another step closer to reality Wednesday.
County commissioners voted overwhelmingly to send a change in land use for the $3 billion American Dream Miami mall project to the State of Florida in a transmittal hearing.
The 10-1 vote means the process for approval moves to the State legislature before eventually returning to South Florida for final approval.
"What we are saying is let this move forward," Hialeah Gardens Mayor Yioset De La Cruz said. "Let it go to the state and let it come back with final approval so we can discuss further what the impact will be on the community."
The over 200-acre retail and entertainment theme park in northwest Miami-Dade would be the largest development project in the county's history and will come with massive challenges.
"Miramar obviously is not in Miami-Dade County, however we are perhaps the closest municipality to this proposed project site," said Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam. "With I-75 and the turnpike running right through our cities, we know those major expressways will be used to access the site."
Although a comprehensive traffic plan is not in place, officials have been working on studies for two years.
Meanwhile, a coalition of the largest 3 mall owners and developers in the country want a covenant protecting public money.
"We are not against the development." says Jesse Manzano of the South Florida Taxpayers Alliance. "We are not against the competition as a matter of fact that is not our intent here today. All we are asking of our elected officials is to include language to prevent the use any additional taxpayer incentives or funds or subsidies."
The Alliance claims the American Dream Miami developer has received significant public funding in New Jersey and Minnesota projects, something one official says won't happen in South Florida.
"They have to put their money up and if they are going to build it, it is a private thing." said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz. "I do not believe in any way we should use tax money."