Park West developer insists casino not in the mix

The managing director of a limited liability company that wants to transform the Park West area 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 buying up 25 acres in the Park West neighborhood — located near Downtown Miami and Overtown, and bounded by NE Second Avenue, North Miami Avenue, NE 11th Street and NE Sixth Street — and developing it into pedestrian malls, new 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 special “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 for a further expansion of casino gambling in South Florida, the Miami Herald reported. Among the areas that would qualify for slot machines, blackjack, high stakes poker and other casino games would be the future Miami Worldcenter district in Park West, the newspaper said.

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

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“Our master plan is not anticipating [casino gambling] and our zoning will not allow it,” he said at Monday’s Miami community redevelopment agency meeting, an agency overseen by Miami city commissioners, which seeks to bring economic prosperity within designated “blighted” areas like Southeast Overtown-Park West.

The special zoning district still has to be approved by the Miami City Commission, which will hold hearings on the Miami Worldcenter district on October 16 and 23 and November 13.

Motwani declined to say how much Miami Worldcenter Group LLC plans to invest in Park West. “The numbers are still up in the air,” he said.

The project will go before the city of Miami’s planning advisory board October 15.