Fresh off the opening of its casino at Aqueduct racino in Queens, Genting, the gaming company that operates Aqueduct Resorts World, has another major project underway — a large-scale casino resort in downtown Miami. In May, it paid $236 million for the headquarters of the Miami Herald, aiming to build a destination resort, with two Florida lawmakers sponsoring a bill that would make that happen. The project, which also involves a residential component, could begin as early as 2013, when the current occupier of the site, the Miami Herald, has to vacate. But Genting has been busy buying up properties around the area, including the Omni mall, on which work could begin earlier than that. To lead the Miami project, dubbed Resorts World Miami, the company named Christian Goode president, following his work as CFO at the recently opened Queens casino project called Resorts World New York. The Real Deal talked to Goode about the early success at Resorts World New York and challenges with the firm’s Miami plan.
Resorts World New York just opened last month at the Aqueduct. How has the early response been?
The patronage has far exceeded everybody’s expectations. We’re the best performing property in terms of gaming metrics, so we’re very pleased with that.
How would you describe the state of the Miami project right now?
The project in Miami is moving forward. We’re focused on designing something that’s appropriate, that’s appealing, that will draw international visitors to South Florida We’re in the beginning stages.
Is there anything you learned from Resorts World New York that you will bring to Miami?
What we learned in New York was that some of our efforts really paid off. We were very focused and we made a strong commitment to the community. In New York, we’ll continue to deliver. It’s about being a partner, not just about doing what we think we should do — but getting input, creating a forum where there’s some back and forth.
What is the biggest challenge for the Miami project?
I wouldn’t say we have any big challenges, but there are a lot of procedural things. We’re working with all of the stakeholders to make sure that we address the needs of the community.