The South Florida Regional Planning Council on Wednesday voted 5-4 against American Dream Miami, the 6.2 million-square-foot shopping mall and theme park that was approved by the Miami-Dade County Commission in May.
What does this mean for the project being billed as the nation’s largest mall? The council’s vote acts as a recommendation for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Now, the state agency has final approval of the project. But even if it were not approved, that “would not kill the program,” said council member Steve Geller, a Broward County commissioner who was one of four “yes” votes.
“They would send it back with instructions and reasons why it was rejected. Then [the developers] would have the opportunity to revise it and resubmit,” he said.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the planning council considered the potential environmental and traffic impact of the 174-acre development, which has been a main point of opposition in the community.
According to a presentation given by consultants for the Florida Department of Transportation, projected traffic surveys show that by 2040 an extra 130,000 travelers would be added to nearby highways, particularly Florida’s Turnpike and Interstate 75 south. The presentation included interchange improvements to mitigate traffic along the I-75 corridor, including relocating existing ramps and building a partial interchange at Northwest 178th Street.
FDOT told the council that the road construction would need to be completed before the opening of the mall, which is proposed to be built out by 2023.
“Who are we kidding? It’s not happening in five years,” said Greg Ross, the council’s first vice chair and mayor of Cooper City. “To come before us and say it could be done by then? Let’s be honest, it’s not.”
Ross voted against the project. Council member Daniella Levine Cava, who is a Miami-Dade County commissioner, also voted no.
“I have been opposed to the American Dream mall … because of my concerns primarily with traffic and impacts on the environment,” said Levine Cava, who was the only Miami-Dade commissioner to vote against the project in May.
Geller said he voted yes because he wasn’t presented with evidence to vote against the project.
By Ellie Rushing