The Real Deal Miami

West Flager Associates wants a gambling venue in Edgewater, but the city wants
more oversight

Miami’s city commission has moved to change the zoning code to require “super majority” approval for casino-related construction
By Francisco Alvarado | September 14, 2018 11:30AM

Isadore Havenick, Ken Russell, Poker and Jai Alai images (Credit: Max Pixel)

Miami officials moved closer to preventing owners of Magic City Casino from opening an Edgewater gambling venue that would include a jai alai court and poker room, following resident outcry over the proposal.

City commissioners voted 4-1 on first reading Thursday to authorize the Miami city manager and planning department draw up changes to the Miami 21 zoning code. That new measures would force developers proposing gambling venues to go through a public hearing and receive “super majority” approval from the city commission.

Prominent developers Jorge Pérez and Craig Robins, and auto magnate Norman Braman publicly oppose West Flagler Associates’ new venue. But Commissioner Ken Russell — who proposed the changes — said that multiple homeowners associations, which oppose the plan, were the driving force.

The state’s division of pari-mutuel wagering recently approved a permit for West Flagler Associates — which owns Magic City Casino — to open its new venue. The complex would rise on land owned by real estate firm Crescent Heights, at 3030 Biscayne Boulevard. Executives for West Flagler, which has a tentative lease agreement with Crescent Heights, claim they were able to obtain the permit because of a letter submitted by the city’s planning department in support of the gambling venue.

“We are disappointed the city has taken such and adverse position to us in wanting to create another entertainment venue and employee 500 more residents of Miami and Miami-Dade County,” West Flagler’s Isadore Havenick told The Real Deal following the vote.

The amendments to Miami 21 would define what gambling facilities are and where such venues can be located. Four out of five commissioners would also need to vote in favor of opening any future pari-mutuels, casinos, or card rooms.

The commission is expected to vote on the proposed Miami 21 amendment at its next meeting. If approved, the measure would pass.