Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet on Tuesday approved the sale of surplus industrial land in northwest Miami-Dade County that could be used by a private developer in a $4 billion project to build the biggest mall in America.

Scott and the Cabinet agreed to sell, for $12.3 million, four parcels totaling 82 acres to Miami-Dade County. The county intends to sell the land to Triple Five, a multinational company proposing the American Dream Miami, a 200-acre shopping mall that would feature a water park and submarine ride.

The land is currently zoned industrial, and questions were raised Tuesday about whether the appraised value could have been higher if the future land use was considered or if the project was put out to bid.

However, the state requires the Department of Environmental Protection to make surplus sites available to other state agencies and universities and then to local governments before putting land up for bid.

Proponents view the project as a jobs and tourism engine for South Florida. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez called the project "very important" to his community.

"What intrigues me is 25,000 jobs," Gimenez told Scott and the Cabinet. The mega mall is projected to create about 7,500 jobs, with Gimenez' figure including indirect impacts of the project.

Critics of the proposal said the project needs to be slowed, as they view the move by Miami-Dade as a step in "flipping" the property for a tidy profit.

Gregg Goodman, president of The Mills/A Simon Company, which owns 26 properties across Florida, said the state could make more money by selling the surplus land through open competitive bidding.

From our media partner News Service of Florida

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