Last year, Miami-Dade County gave final approval to Triple Five, the Canadian development firm that owns three of the largest malls in America, to begin obtaining permits for the American Dream Mall. Groundbreaking is planned for 2021 near the intersection of the Florida Turnpike, Interstate 75 and Miami Gardens Drive.
Triple Five believes the mall will benefit not only Miami-Dade, but also neighboring counties. The firm states the new project will create around 14,500 jobs, improve the economy and provide a variety of attractions.
The 6.2 million square foot mall will have retail and dining options, but the main focus will be entertainment. The plans include an amusement park, ice rink, indoor ski slope, sea lion park, Legoland Discovery Center and artificial lake with submarine rides.
However, the Pembroke Pines city government believes it is going to be a total nightmare.
“I’m on public record already refusing the project,” said Pines Commissioner Angelo Castillo, who is Mayor Frank C. Ortis’ opponent in the upcoming city elections. He made no further comment.
“I don’t want it; the people of Broward County don’t want it,” Ortis said. “I am completely against it.” He is concerned with two things this new project could bring: traffic disaster and loss of business.
Although Miguel Diaz De la Portilla, an attorney at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, stated $220 million is being directed towards new road infrastructure and a transit area, Pines officials believe the group is miscalculating the number of cars that will make their way through Broward County.
Pembroke Pines is the second-largest city in the county, offering a variety of entertainment options. Among these is the Charles F. Dodge City Center, which facilitates conventions, concerts, meetings and other local events.
The city also recently finished the new Pines City Center, which provides retail and dining. Pembroke Pines depends on the business of these centers to prop up the economy. Officials believe the new mega-mall is going to completely disrupt it.
There are also concerns about the environment. The project is being built on the edge of the Everglades near the urban development line. Mayor Ortis expressed concern over future damage to the Everglades. The project may lead to flooding and pollution.
Daniella Levine Cava, the only Miami-Dade commissioner who voted against the project, stated it is not “energy efficient.”
“This is an area without adequate road infrastructure,” she added. “There are small subdivision neighborhoods locked in and inadequate roadway.”
The Triple Five group states it will continue to modify the transportation plan in an attempt to reduce traffic congestion, but has no intention of backing down.