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The Genting Group Meets With S. Fla. Business Owners For Support

MIAMI (CBS4) - Developers of the proposed 3 billion dollar Miami casino resort project met with a key group of people today, the owners and managers of office buildings throughout South Florida.

The Genting Group wants them on board with the controversial plan.

The proposed Resorts World Miami project would be bigger than any other resort in town and if the developer has its way, it will feature a large casino.

But the building owners and managers have other concerns, besides gambling.

Many of them own and run the high-rise office buildings surrounding the proposed resort site in the Omni District.

"We believe they are a critical group, one that will stand to potentially benefit from some of the spillover, economic impact our resort will have here in the Greater downtown area," Resorts World Miami Vice President Jesse Manzano-Plaza told CBS4's Natalia Zea.

"It's all about the market and how it will impact the surrounding buildings," said Vicki Vaisden, president of BOMA, the Building Owners and Managers Association.

The BOMA members were instantly relieved to hear during the luncheon and question-and-answer session Friday afternoon at the Mandarin Oriental on Brickell Key, that the 10-million square foot resort project is not set to include office space, eliminating competition in a market that already has too many vacancies.

"The office building people are glad it's going to be entertainment, and the direction it's going. I think it's better for all of us here," said Vaisden.

But like many of the people who live in this area, the building owners and managers worry about the additional traffic that would come with the resort.

Manzano-Plaza said they are accepting feedback and want to resolve the traffic concerns as well.

"Listen, we're going to bring new visitors to Miami-Dade County and we don't want them sitting in traffic getting to our property, so we're gonna work with them to address those issues."

A recent CBS4, Miami Herald, Nuevo Herald, Univision 23 poll shows 45% of South Floridians oppose the Resort Casino project. 47% support it and 8% aren't sure. But Manzano-Plaza believes project opponents will change their minds.

"I think this community, this is a community hit hard by the recession, is going to realize, yes we want new jobs, yes we want private investment, and we support this concept of destination resorts."

Two expanded gaming bills are making their way through the state legislature right now, but even if they don't pass the Genting Group says they will still build a resort at the proposed site, though it could be smaller and take longer than five years to develop.

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