Genting selling 15.5 acres of Miami waterfront once planned for a casino resort

A waterfront image of the 15-acre site Genting is putting up for sale after owning it for more than a decade. The waterfront land once housed the Miami Herald, and it includes former retail buildings on Biscayne Boulevard.

Genting, the Malaysian casino company that once planned to turn the former Miami Herald property into a gambling resort in the heart of Miami, is selling its prized 15.5-acre parcel. The expected price tag tops $1 billion for the largely vacant swath of downtown land on Biscayne Bay, where residential and commercial high-rises could top 60 stories.

“It’s a transformational, iconic site,” said Michael Fay, managing director of the Miami office of the Avison Young commercial brokerage, which has the listing for the former Herald site off of Biscayne Boulevard between the Venetian and MacArthur Causeways. “We already have interest in excess of $1 billion.”

Genting opted not to include a hotel complex it owns north of the former Herald site, a property that includes the old Omni mall and an existing Hilton. That would give the company a real estate foothold should the company secure a casino license in the future.

But the sale signals the end of Genting’s boldest Miami ambitions, which launched in 2011 with the surprise purchase of the Herald real estate for $235 million and renderings of a luxury casino resort that hinged on company lobbyists securing changes in Florida law needed to bring slot machines and table games to the city waterfront.

Genting also used the property to put itself at the center of Miami-Dade’s transit plans, securing a county contract with partners to build a monorail line from the old Herald site to South Beach. With costs soaring over $1 billion, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava scrapped the deal in early November.

The pending deal is bound to set a new peak for Miami commercial real estate prices, with the former Herald site the last large undeveloped parcel of downtown Miami waterfront in private hands. After Genting demolished the former Herald offices and printing presses in 2014, the land largely sat idle except for temporary events run out of tents and pavilions, including this week’s Art Miami fair and the upcoming Miami International Boat Show.

Fay said the 15.5-acre parcel, a mix of the Herald site and nearby properties, falls under Miami-Dade’s rapid-transit zoning rules for its proximity to the Omni Metromover station. He expects a future developer to be allowed construction of towers higher than 60 stories, with up to 7,500 residential units and about 20 million square feet of commercial space — likely a mix of office, retail and lodging.

“This site is among the most valuable in the United States, let alone South Florida,” he said.

In a statement, Genting emphasized it still planned to redevelop its other real estate holdings north of the site.

“South Florida’s popularity only continues to grow, and we are incredibly optimistic about our opportunity to bring a unique development to the area,” said Robert DeSalvio, president, Genting Americas East. “With our focus now locked in on 10 acres of prime real estate, we look forward to accelerating the process of outlining a project, putting shovels in the ground and getting a project built that all South Floridians can be proud of.”