American Dream Miami can move much closer to reality Thursday if Miami-Dade commissioners approve the $4 billion project, which would bring the largest mall in America to Northwest Miami-Dade.
Backers, led by Mayor Carlos Gimenez, tout the $4 billion retail theme park as a boon to the region's economy for bringing an attraction large enough to employ about 14,000 people full-time and offer both an indoor ski slope and a submarine lake. The Canadian developer, Triple Five, owns the Mall of America in Minnesota, and wants American Dream to be an even larger version of that shopping attraction, with 2,000 hotel rooms for vacationers.
Critics, led by environmental groups and nearby residents, say it's too close to the low-lying Everglades. They warn of a traffic nightmare for converting a 175-acre wedge of wetlands and wooded area between I-75 and the Turnpike into South Florida's leading shopping destination with 30 million visitors a year.
With only one No vote, commissioners early last year gave preliminary approval to American Dream and an allied commercial and residential project by the Graham Companies on 300 acres to the south. Both projects would rise on land that's within Miami-Dade's urban-development boundary, meaning some sort of large development is bound to go there eventually.
Those factors make an outright rejection of the American Dream project an unlikely outcome for Thursday's 9:30 a.m. meeting at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center, when commissioners are scheduled to take their final votes on zoning and land-use changes needed to build the project. But that doesn't mean there won't be a big fight on the dais or by the various parties trying to influence the requirements for approval.