Gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene followed the most recent Democratic primary debate with a campaign advertisement attacking Gwen Graham’s role in the $4 billion American Dream mall slated to be built in west Miami-Dade County.
The advertisement, shown below, began running Thursday night.
Also, during the debate, candidate Chris King questioned Graham’s environmental positions by highlighting her multi-million-dollar investment in the Graham Companies and the family firm’s involvement in the American Dream mall.
King said the mall was “on the edge of the Everglades.” He added, “You can’t make this stuff up.”
The project has been covered extensively by the media in South Florida. The coverage included a report by Jim DeFede with CBS4 Miami. DeFede wrote an article after an interview with Graham titled the “American Dream Mall Could Become a Graham Nightmare.”
In the report, Kimberly Mitchell, executive director, of the Everglades Trust said, “while we are fighting like the dickens to ensure the survival of the Everglades and the source of drinking water for eight million Floridians, mega-developers and projects like these continue to put it all at risk,”
DeFede reported that “The Graham Companies owns a critical piece of the 175 acres of land where the mall would be built in northwest Miami-Dade County. In addition, The Graham Companies have been given approval to develop an additional 300 acres of land around the project.”
Almost all of Gwen Graham’s wealth is derived from The Graham Companies. In her financial disclosure forms she filed for 2017, she estimated the value of her holdings in the company as $13.7 million. In addition, she reported $829,625 in income from The Graham Companies in 2017.
The Sun Sentinel reported that Graham “resigned from the company’s board and placed her company holdings in a trust when she was elected to Congress in 2014. She also pledged to remove the Governor’s Office from any issues surrounding the mall and let them be decided by the remaining members of the Cabinet — the Attorney General, the Agriculture Commissioner and the state’s Chief Financial Officer.”
During the DeFede interview, Graham was asked three times if the development was a good idea, but she refused to provide a direct answer.
Graham said in an interview with South Florida newspaper editorial page editors that the ad uses footage of her that is heavily edited. “It’s a negative ad so he’s trying to make me look bad,” she said, adding that there are “many environmentalists and people who have been speaking out about that ad and saying it’s just false and full of lies.”
Greene said it isn’t an attack ad. “We’re not saying anything; we’re just reprinting the news,” he said.
Here the facts on the mall as reported by the Sun-Sentinel:
The proposed mall would dwarf the malls that exist in America today and would add some twists: a submarine ride, indoor ski slope, water park, theme park, sports complex, outdoor fishing and theaters.
Backers have said the $4 billion development represents a “tremendous economic development project” bringing 25,000 permanent jobs and creating opportunities for small businesses.
American Dream Miami is proposed on 174 acres in the vacant triangle between I-75 and the Florida Turnpike’s Homestead Extension. The 6.2 million-square-foot project includes 2.7 million square feet of entertainment and common space, plus the shopping. In addition, a 2,000-bed hotel would be built.
Graham Companies proposes to develop 337 acres just south of it into a 3 million square foot business park, with 1 million square feet of retail space and 2,000 residential apartments. That growth would slowly take place over 20 years, representatives have said.
Broward leaders, particularly in Miramar, fear the new tourist attraction could clog roads in the southwest part of the county.
The project teams spent “countless hours” working with government staffers to take care of the expected impacts on roads, parks, sewers, fire rescue service, and more, Graham Companies attorney Joseph Goldstein said in April.