The Real Deal Miami

Developer insists no casinos coming to Miami Worldcenter

By Erik Bojnansky | October 11, 2008 09:19PM

The managing director of a limited liability company that wants to transform a portion of downtown Miami into a 24-hour mini-city insists there are no plans to throw casinos into the mix.

The Miami Worldcenter Group LLC, owned by Palm Beach developers Art Falcone and Marc Roberts, is developing more than 25 acres of land in the Park West neighborhood into pedestrian malls, hotels, retail, restaurants and entertainment venues. The project so far has the backing of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and city administrators, who are seeking a  Miami Worldcenter special zoning district for the mega-project.

Falcone and Roberts created a political action committee that is pushing for a referendum in 2010, to further expand Las Vegas-style casino gambling in South Florida. Among the areas that would qualify for slot machines, blackjack, high stakes poker and other casino games would be Miami Worldcenter.

But, Nitin Motwani, managing director of Miami Worldcenter Group, flat out denied there would be any casino gambling in the new mixed-use city.

“Our master plan is not anticipating [casino gambling] and our zoning will not allow it,” he said at the October 7 meeting of the Miami community redevelopment agency, overseen by Miami city commissioners and seeking to bring economic prosperity to blighted areas like Southeast Overtown-Park West.

Motwani has declined to say how much Falcone and Roberts’ limited liability company has invested in the Miami Worldcenter endeavor so far.

“The numbers are still up in the air,” he said. But, it has been reported that Falcone and Roberts have already spent more than $850,000 on it.

The special district still has to be approved by Miami city commissioners, who are holding hearings on the topic October 16 and 23, and November 13, Miami City Manager Pete Hernandez said.