Bids top $1 billion for Miami waterfront land

  • 1 year ago
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A mostly vacant 15-acre property on Biscayne Bay near downtown Miami, once slated for a massive casino resort before being put up for sale, has drawn five bids topping an eye-popping $1 billion, according to the real estate brokerage marketing the property.

The land, former home to the Miami Herald and owned since 2011 by Malaysian casino giant Genting, is by far the largest privately owned vacant land remaining in and around downtown Miami.

The trophy site, which sits between the Venetian and MacArthur causeways, drew nine offers from U.S. and international interests, said Michael Fay, principal and managing director at brokerage Avison Young’s Miami office, which is representing Genting. Fay said Monday he could not name any of the bidders, citing confidentiality between the broker and client Genting.

“It’s an iconic property,” Fay said, noting that its sale could set the highest price for a development site in the United States.

Fay said best and final offers from bidders are due by 5 p.m. Thursday and Genting could select a buyer as soon as next week.

Bloomberg, which first reported the bids, said the biggest offer was for just under $1.5 billion, but Fay declined to confirm that.

Genting put the property up for sale late last year, after Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava scrapped a contract with the company to build a monorail line from the site to South Beach because of sharply escalating cost estimates.

Genting bought the 15.5-acre property, which included the Herald’s landmark Miami Modern building at One Herald Plaza and a series of adjacent parking lots, from its corporate parent McClatchy in 2014 for $236 million, a price considered high at the time.

Genting subsequently demolished the Herald building after a campaign by preservationists to save it failed. The property also includes the historically designated and legally protected Shrine Building, a 1930 Art Deco commercial building on Biscayne Boulevard. Though Genting renovated the building, it remains vacant.

Genting released ambitious plans for a giant high-rise casino resort on the waterfont site, but failed to secure approval from the Florida Legislature for needed changes in state law to allow full-fledged gambling in the heart of Miami. In recent years, the property has been mostly idle except for special events housed in tents and other temporary facilities, like the Art Miami and Art Wynwood fairs and the Miami International Boat Show.

Genting has said it intends to retain ownership of the former Omni Mall and Hilton Hotel just north of the former Herald property, providing the company a large footprint should it secure a gambling license in the future.

Because the property sits next to the Omni Metromover Station, its zoning is set by Miami-Dade County instead of the city of Miami and would allow dense, high-rise commercial and residential development rising to around 60 stories.

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