Asia’s third largest casino company is paying $236 million for the 14 acres of waterfront land surrounding The Miami Herald, a deal that means a new home for the publishing company and a major new player in downtown Miami’s development boom.
The surprise announcement came after a long-stalled deal for adjoining Herald parking lots fizzled, a seeming victim of the real estate bust. The new buyer is a deep-pocketed Malaysian resort developer, Genting Malaysia Berhad, which operates resorts around the world. Properties include a video lottery facility at the Aqueduct Racetrack in New York and 46 casinos in the United Kingdom.
Resort and gambling lobbyists have been pushing to casinos in Florida’s largest hotels, but state law bans them outside of tribal lands, some racecourses and other facilities.
Although little known in the U.S., Genting already has ties to Florida. Currently it owns 50 percent of Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line and is a partner with Universal Studios in the Universal Studios Sentosa theme park in Singapore, which opens this weekend. Worldwide, the Genting Group, has vast holdings in resorts and casinos, along with plantations, power generation, oil and gas, real estate and other industries, with a combined market capitalization of $45 billion.
The project will be called Resorts World Miami and will include a hotel, convention space, restaurants, retail and some sort of residential component. Genting did not mention plans for a casino. The Herald site sits across from Miami-Dade’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and is nestled bayside between the MacArthur and Venetian causeways at Northeast 15th Street east of Biscayne Boulevard.
The Herald’s parent company, McClatchy, announced the sale and said both The Miami Herald and El Neuvo Herald would move to another location within two years. Until then, the papers can operate in the current waterfront building for two years. The building also houses Brown Mackie college, which presumably would relocate as well.
The deal brings an infusion of cash for the Sacramento-based company, which has met declining advertising revenues with staff cuts at its newspapers across the country, including the Herald. McClatchy will use the $163 million from the sale to bolster the company’s pension plan and $65 million to pay down debt. The remaining $2 million will be used to pay for taxes associated with the sale.
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