Op-Ed

A casino in Miami’s urban core? Hell, no!

Many say that a casino will hurt Miami’s Central Business District, and beyond.
Many say that a casino will hurt Miami’s Central Business District, and beyond. miami.com

Re the approval of a jai alai/casino on 30th street and Biscayne Boulevard: As a long-time urban planner and developer in Miami, I want to express my strongest opposition to a casino in Edgewater. Miami’s urban core has taken a few decades to develop. Starting with the Brickell area, we saw redevelopment happen north of the Miami River into the central downtown core.

When I built One Miami on Biscayne Bay and Biscayne Boulevard a little over a decade ago, people thought I was crazy. I couldn’t get any local banks to take a chance on this location and finance the project. There had never been a residential project built in the urban center north of the river. A New York bank provided the construction loan.

Now, Miami is turning into one of the great urban centers, with downtown seeing unprecedented development. This growth has moved in a rapid, well-planned way into Wynwood and the Design District. In between, Edgewater is becoming a residential village that is close to the Central Business District, Wynwood/Midtown to the west and the Design District to the north. Both more expensive condominiums on the bay and more affordable rental apartments west of the bay are being built. Shops and restaurants along Biscayne Boulevard from Downtown to 36th Street are opening daily.

The ideal is that a strong urban core solidifies between the Brickell area and 36th Street — and further north. This is sustainable, environmentally efficient growth where people can live, work, shop and play within a short walk or bike ride and where public transportation can be provided efficiently.

We are seen around the world as a “miracle city,” where in a couple of decades we have moved from an inefficient and wasteful suburban metropolis to one where the urban core has expanded beautifully, combining retail, residential, office and cultural development. It is working beautifully and creating a model to which others aspire.

So why in the world would anybody — other than the few owners, who would benefit from a casino here — with any intelligence or level of community concern bring up the idea of a casino into this beautifully developing area? in this location? Miamians have repeatedly fought attempts to bring casinos downtown — and won. Why would anybody be so bold as to try to sneak one in? There is absolutely no community benefit from this and I, for one, will fight this aggressively.

We are trying to build a great Miami for future generations. A casino in Edgewater will derail all our efforts.

Jorge Pérez is chairman and CEO of the The Related Group.

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