Donald Trump wants to build film studio in South Miami-Dade

South Miami-Dade would become home to a film production studio built by Donald Trump, under a proposal unveiled to county commissioners Tuesday.

06/05/2012 5:00 AM

06/05/2012 6:37 PM

If The Donald has his way, South Miami-Dade would become home to “Trump Studio City,” a proposed studio production facility pitched to the county commission on Tuesday.

County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez enthusiastically introduced the idea, which would use, in part, county-owned land previously targeted in a failed bid to build a commercial airport on 800 acres near the Homestead Air Reserve Base.

Trump didn’t attend Tuesday’s meeting because, Martinez said, there are still far too many unknowns, including who owns which land, whether any of the property is contaminated, even if Homestead would be willing to go for any such deal.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s right-hand man and legal counsel, told commissioners he envisioned fantastic financial impact: hundreds of millions of dollars a year in new revenue, thousands of new jobs. Trump Studio City would be twice the size of Universal Studios, he said.

“It will reduce unemployment and improve land values,” he said.

Perhaps a dream, the Trump plan sure looked fancy.

Architectural renderings show a brightly lit promenade appearing spaceship-like near the entrance, with “Trump Studio City” lit up in bright lights. Several connected plazas are surrounded by tall media centers and palm-lined boulevards, with production stages behind it ranging from 20,000 to 250,000 square feet.

Martinez said the proposal materialized shortly after Trump announced his purchase of the Doral Golf Resort & Spa earlier this year, and Martinez asked for a sit-down.

Martinez is running against Mayor Carlos Gimenez in the August election. Martinez’s surprise unveiling of the plan — which was not included on the meeting agenda in advance — left the mayor with very little wiggle room even if he wanted to oppose his opponent’s plan, as unemployment remains high around the county.

“It’s something we need to look at. Sometimes you have to be a trailblazer,” Gimenez said.

Film production could be a boon for South Florida as the state now subsidizes the production industry with state tax credits, and South Florida’s English-language movie and television business tends to ebb and flow with the availability of state dollars.

“If this doesn’t happen it’s because we screwed up,” Martinez said.

Commissioners voted unanimously to give the county attorney 90 days to study the proposal. If the commission OKs the findings, the county would have another 90 days to work out land deals to get a working contract in order.

Still, some commissioners were a little unnerved with Martinez’s quick-shot plan.

“I learned a big lesson with the Marlins stadium,” said Commissioner Rebeca Sosa. “I learned to ask the right questions.”

As for Homestead Air Reserve Base officials, spokesman Jacob Jimenez said he was unaware of any plans.

“We’re a reserve base ready to deploy,” he said. “People call this office saying different things every day. What we do is we have F-16s, and we’re ready to deploy.”

Some of the land under consideration was the subject of a years-long legal battle by the Homestead Air Base Developers Inc. group, known as HABDI, which had planned to build a controversial commercial airport at the former Homestead Air Force Base.

The airport deal collapsed in 2001, after the U.S. Air Force decided it would not convey 604 acres to the county for an airport, instead later giving it to Miami-Dade for general nonaviation development.

Miami Herald staff writer Douglas Hanks contributed to this report.

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