Schools weigh gambling giant Genting's offer for 8 sites
By Scott Blake
Miami-Dade County School District officials are sitting on an offer by a firm affiliated with Malaysian casino giant Genting to buy a group of properties at the district's downtown administrative complex.
Bayfront 2011 Development LLC, a firm affiliated with Genting, had offered to buy all eight properties from the school district for an undetermined price, according to documents obtained by Miami Today.
The properties total 10.5 acres and include the district's headquarters, two schools and parking lots in the Omni area near the site where Genting had proposed to build a $3 billion-plus casino resort.
It is unclear whether Genting remains interested in the district properties since submitting the offer in December.
Since then, a bill that would have cleared the way for Genting's Resorts World Miami failed to make it through the Florida Legislature, and Genting reportedly is now considering scaling down the project. Representatives for Genting and Bayfront did not respond to requests for comment.
The district also received offers from two other firms, each proposing to buy only one of the eight parcels. Representatives for those firms, 1550 The Chelsea LLC and Prince Albert LLC, said they have yet to hear back from the district.
District officials, meanwhile, seem to be in no rush to sell the properties.
"We have a structured process for selling property," Jaime Torrens, the district's chief facilities officer, told Miami Today. "There's no need for urgency."
Mr. Torrens said the district still needs to get appraisals done on the properties and recommendations regarding the sale of the parcels would need to be submitted for the School Board's approval.
District officials decided last fall to test developers' interest in the properties after Genting spent about $500 million buying property in the neighborhood for its Resorts World Miami plan. Those purchases included the site of the Miami Herald, which plans to move to Doral next year, and the nearby Omni Center, which Genting planned to make part of its casino complex.
Mr. Torrens said the district in the past has considered selling its downtown properties, including last year's sale of the Miami Skill Center, which the district had been using as a warehouse, to the City of Miami.
The district sometimes considers selling properties that might be under-used or that could be relocated as a way to raise money for budget purposes.
In October, the district issued a "request for interest" for the eight Omni area parcels. The three responses were received by the Dec. 1 deadline.
Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho updated the School Board on the process in a Feb. 9 memo to which he attached copies of the responses.
"Specific recommendations have not yet been formulated for the board's consideration and as such the [request for interest] remains under the cone of silence," Mr. Carvalho wrote, "however, the responses, which are a matter of public record, are being transmitted to the board for information purposes."
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