Malaysian firm Genting Group has floated a unique proposal to environmental regulators in Florida in hopes of receiving permission to build a 50-yacht marina on a waterfront site it owns in downtown Miami.
Genting Group, which is behind the huge Resorts World Genting development in its home nation along with Singapore’s Resorts World Sentosa, has been seeking approval to open a casino on the 14-acre plot along Biscayne Bay since 2013 and wants the development to include a marina.
According to a report from the Miami Herald newspaper, the casino giant was rumored to be interested in selling the land after state lawmakers failed to pass expanded casino gambling legislation. But, Genting Group now seems committed to staying with the development after allegedly asking the Miami-Dade County’s Department Of Regulatory And Economic Resources to allow it to transfer existing boat-slip permits from properties along the Miami River three miles away to its downtown site.
Under current regulations designed to protect the local manatee population, the downtown Miami property, which Genting Group purchased in 2011 for $236 million, is limited to no more than eight slips should the operator win the approval of local officials. However, a July 5 letter from Kirk Lofgren of Ocean Consulting has suggested transferring 42 permits now attached to Austral Marina on the Miami River along with those held by three neighboring parcels owned by the wealthy Matheson family.
Lofgren serves as a consultant to Genting Group’s Resorts World Miami subsidiary and revealed that the Matheson-owned sites are currently occupied by a marina and Apex Marine repair and maintenance boatyard. He suggested that relocating all of the slips would benefit manatees and outweigh the impacts of any new marina on Biscayne Bay.
Pamela Sweeney from the Department Of Regulatory And Economic Resources told the newspaper that such applications can take years while it took about a decade for one of the last major marinas on Biscayne Bay, Flagstone Properties’ facility on Watson Island, to be approved. Resort World Miami’s original request is due to expire in December and a new submission would be required should this first application fail to be approved by the deadline.
“The department has approved slip transfers before in close proximity to one another or immediately across a canal,” Sweeney told the Miami Herald. “In those situations, the manatees are not going to notice if a boat is coming from one side rather than the other.”
Lofgren’s letter moreover declared that the new Resorts World Miami marina could accommodate powerboats of up to 100-feet in length for long-term rentals only, which would eliminate daily or transient users while limiting nautical traffic that could pose a threat to manatees.
But, Miami-Dade regulators invited caution after further revealing that the proposed site is also classified as essential manatee habitat with a recent dive finding endangered sponges and coral as well as a threatened species of seagrass.