The Florida City commisson on Tuesday voted to rezone 38 acres of land, a move that would allow a theme park or long-sought casino to be built on the parcel.
“The dream is in the making now,” Florida City Commissioner Avis Brown said. “It’s coming to a realization.”
The vote to rezone the land from “general commercial district” to “commercial recreational district” was 4-1 with Commissioner Eugene Berry dissenting.
“Now that we have rezoned it, they’re at liberty to put any kind of amusement, entertainment or recreational development. If they want to put a theme park there, or race cars for kids, they can. It can even be a little Disney World with a roller coaster or water slides,” Brown said.
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All it needs now, she said, is approval from the state.
A recent 20-year compact signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott and the Seminole tribe allows the Legislature to open the door for parimutuels to operate new slots casinos in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
There’s been talk for years about building a casino in Florida City—south of the Florida Keys Outlet Center on Southwest 344th Street and east U.S. 1. In mid-2015, Bal Bay Realty LTD bought the land from a bank in Spain.
“There have been many discussions over time, in and out,” Mayor Otis Wallace said. He called the venture a “catalyst.”
“More important than anything else, it attracts more businesses around from a revenue point of view,” he said. “It has already created an interest, like hotels and restaurants. The zoning has always allowed for retail, shopping and that sort of thing. But now it will allow for a gaming facility which have a major pull in bringing in businesses and tax revenue.”
Wallace said he couldn’t comment on who might operate the casino because “it’s still too early in the process and still needs state approval.”
The 38-acres of land is vacant except for a small portion that includes a trailer home community, that’s been on the site for at least 25 years.
It is unclear what might happen to the trailer park, Otis said. “It’s still very early in the works.”
Brown says the commission’s decision will create jobs.
“We need jobs,” she said. “We are the gateway to the Keys. Those people that are coming in, passing through or going from Key West, might open up some doors and avenues for us to get more revenue.”