MIAMI (CBS4)- Just three months after the purchase of the Miami Herald property a development company is ready to get to work with redesigning the Miami skyline.
A 3.6-acre outdoor lagoon — equivalent to 12 Olympic-size swimming pools and surrounded by natural sand beaches — is the centerpiece of the $3 billion master plan unveiled Wednesday by the Genting Group for Resorts World Miami.
The massive 10 million-square-foot mixed-use development that draws its inspiration from the region’s coral reefs is unlike anything South Florida has seen before in terms of sheer magnitude and design.
With plans for four hotels, two condominium towers, more than 50 restaurants and bars and a luxury retail shopping mall, it’s being billed as one of the largest projects in Florida history. And that’s without the casino Genting hopes to be able to include in the project.
“The casino is one more amenity in the floor plan,” said Bernardo Fort-Brescia, co-founder of Arquitectonica, which is designing the project.
Fort-Brescia says the casino won’t be front-and-center.
“Those who want to go to the casino, will have to find it, actually, because it’s not the first thing you see, it’s not like a Las Vegas,” he said. “This will make Miami more than competitive. It will have an advantage.”
Resorts World Miami’s four hotel towers with more than 5,200 rooms would increase Miami-Dade County’s hotel room inventory by just over 10 percent and give large groups a reason to come to Miami for events that could be held in the property’s convention and meeting space.
The project’s largest hotel would have about 2,000 rooms, making it about 25 percent bigger than the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, currently the largest hotel in the market. The second and third largest hotels would be just slightly smaller than Fontainebleau, the Miami Herald reported.
Genting Group principal Colin Au unveiled plans for the towering new resort on the bay in a Brickell hotel ballroom.
“We believe this will be the most iconic destination resort in the Americas,” Au said.
Au also made a pitch for changes to Florida law that would allow the Asian casino giant to include gambling in the resort.
“We believe due to the very high unemployment rate, depressed economy and the continued uncertain outlook, it is the right time for Florida to permit a multi-billion dollar destination resort in Miami-Dade and Broward counties where racino and Indian casinos are already operating.”
Another key part of the project involves the creation of a three-mile long Baywalk that would run north from the Miami River to Margaret Pace Park, just past the Genting World Miami site. In addition to creating a 50-foot long promenade behind its mixed-use project, Genting will also fund the completion of any other undeveloped sections throughout the city.
At Resorts World Miami visitors will be able to dine at outdoor terraces overlooking the Baywalk or enjoy outdoor entertainment. Everything focuses on taking advantage of the water view.
The plans unveiled Wednesday are all designed around an eight-level podium that takes up the majority of the Herald site. Within the podium are the bulk of the retail, restaurants, entertainment, convention center and proposed casino. The four hotel towers and two condo towers rise above the podium.
At Wednesday’s press conference, parallels were drawn between Miami and Singapore in describing the impact the opening of Resorts World Sentosa has had on changing the tourism and economic landscape since it opened two years ago, the Miami Herald reported.
Genting estimates that with two destination resorts in Miami-Dade County, there would be a 30 percent growth in airline revenues — 5.4 million more airline passengers and another $2 billion in revenue for the airlines and $170 million in additional fees for Miami International Airport.
The hotel industry would see a 50 percent gain in revenue or about $1 billion, the company projects. Genting has hired Washington Economics Group and Ardvin Laffer Moore to conduct independent studies to verify the economic impact of Resorts World Miami and destination resorts. The results are expected within a month.
The company also said 30,000 direct jobs, plus another 60,000 indirect jobs, will be created as a result of the project, CBS4’s Gio Benitez reported.
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)