Having the largest mall in North America apparently isn’t enough development for northwest Miami-Dade County, as another mega project has been proposed on a neighboring site.
The Graham Cos. wants to build a rental community, a business park including hotels, and – yes – more retail to take advantage of the huge influx of people.
The largely vacant area between Interstate 75 and Florida’s Turnpike is shaping up to be a hotbed for large-scale development, which has some residents concerned about traffic. Those highways are already busy in peak times because they transport people between west Miami-Dade County and west Broward County.
According to The Graham Cos. application, mega mall American Dream Miami would attract 30 million visitors a year – making it one of the biggest attractions in the county. The mall developer has yet to file its traffic impact statement.
Triple Five Group’s American Dream Miami would total 6.2 million square feet plus 2,000 hotel rooms right at the southwest corner of Interstate 75 and Florida’s Turnpike. That 194.5-acre project would break down to 3.5 million square feet of retail, 1.5 million square feet of entertainment such as an amusement park, an indoor ski slope, a water park, a sports center and more, and 1.2 million square feet of common areas and back of house operations.
The Graham Cos., a family-owned company that developed its home base of Miami Lakes, agreed to sell Triple Five Group much of the land for its mall. In the meantime, The Graham Cos. filed a comprehensive plan amendment with Miami-Dade on Nov. 30 for the 309 acres directly south of American Dream Miami that the company would retain.
Both The Graham Cos. and the American Dream Miami applications will be processed on the same schedule with the county. The process could take 10 months, with a meeting before the county planning advisory board in April and the first county commission vote in May to send them for state review.
It’s expected that Triple Five Group and The Graham Cos. will file a traffic impact study that takes both projects into account.
Graham Cos. President and CEO Stuart Wyllie said the company initially planned to build an industrial park on the site, which it has owned for 85 years. After the arrival of the mall proposal, the company consulted with county staff and decided that there was a better use for the property, he said.
“We have no plans on trying to compete with American Dream on the retail. No one in the world can do it like them,” Wyllie said. “Our retail would be neighborhood serving.”
Wyllie said that the two projects won’t get built until the developers can prove they have a plan to deal with the traffic.
“Nobody is more concerned about the traffic than we are,” said Wyllie, whose company owns many properties in nearby Miami Lakes.
The company was represented in the application by Holland & Knight attorney Tracy R. Slavens and Joseph G. Goldstein.
Located on the north side of Northwest 170th Street at where Northwest 97th Street ends, The Graham Cos. property could be rezoned from industrial, office and business to include an “employment center” designation, which would allow for mixed-use development. It intends to build 2,000 multifamily rentals, 1 million square feet of retail and a 3 million-square-foot business park.
The retail space would break down into 125,000 square feet of neighborhood retail and 875,000 square feet of regional retail. About 25 percent of the space would be for food and beverage.
“The primary motivation for the development of the proposed regional retail space will be its proximity to the 6.2 million-square-foot American Dream Miami entertainment retail project,” The Graham Cos. said in its application. “The applicant believes that there are retailers, including wide variety of ‘big boxes’, who will either be unable to locate in the American Dream Miami or disinterested in doing so that will seek to locate in the proposed employment center to be in a position to capitalize on the traffic created by American Dream Miami.”
The business park would break down to 1.53 million square feet of offices, 300,000 square feet of distribution space, 200,000 square feet of flex space (usually industrial or office), and four hotels with a combined 1,600 rooms.
Wyllie said the site should do well for office projects, noting that there are many office buildings along both Florida’s Turnpike and Interstate 75 not far away.
“You have people who live in southwest Broward and northwest Miami-Dade who have office needs and don’t want to clog up the roads driving downtown,” Wyllie said.
According to a study by Miami Economic Associates for the developer, The Graham Cos. project would create 9,955 jobs at build out with 94 percent of workers earning over $40,000 per year.
“The developer of American Dream Miami expects it to attract more than 30 million visitors annually,” The Graham Cos. said in its application. “More than half of the visitors to American Dream Miami will be tourists to South Florida from both domestic and foreign points of origin while the remainder will be people living in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.”
While American Dream Miami would be built all at once, The Graham Cos. employment center would be a phased development through 2030, according to the application. The estimated development hard costs (materials and labor) would be $1.24 billion plus $310 million in soft costs (architecture, engineering, permits, lease commissions, etc.). In fact, just doing site preparation and wetland mitigation would cost $100 million and take about two years.
The Graham Cos.’ timeline calls for starting construction of the first apartments in early 2018 and the first 50,000-square-foot office building, 50,000 square feet of flex space and 100,000-square-foot distribution center in early 2019.
Of course, a ton of roadway improvements would be required to bring people to what’s now vast open space. The Graham Cos. application envisions extending both Northwest 97th Avenue and Northwest 102nd Avenue north to reach American Dream Miami, constructing a Turnpike interchange at Northwest 170th Street, create Northwest 178th Street to span between Interstate 75 and Northwest 102nd Avenue, and expand the Interstate 75 interchange at Miami Gardens Drive.
“If the mall does what I think they are going to do, it’ll be transformative,” Wyllie said. “It’ll bring 25,000 jobs. It’ll be great for northwest Miami-Dade County.”
These two huge projects aren’t all that’s planned in the area. Directly south of The Graham Cos. employment center, Dacar Management is seeking approval from Hialeah officials to build 1,082 homes on 135.3 acres. Further south, the same company wants to rezone 77.25 acres for 525,000 square feet of commercial/retail and possibly some residential.
Additional land there is planned for the Beacon Countyline business park by Flagler Development Group.