Florida Technical College’s culinary arts program will have a facility at Southland Mall, and mall patrons will be able to take cooking lessons and buy things the student create.
The Town of Cutler Bay earlier this month unanimously approved the use of a vacant space at the mall, capping off a year-long fight for the college’s culinary arts program.
The resolution was presented to the board last year on April 18, but was rejected due to multiple conditions not being met.
Due to the initial rejection, Southland Mall requested mediation under the Florida Land Use and Environmental Dispute Resolution Act. This law is used when a property owner believes that a government entity has strained the use of its property.
City Manager Rafael G. Casals said there were three conditions that needed to be resolved.
One of those conditions Casals discussed was the lack of a bus stop for the town’s bus at Southland Mall.
This has been an ongoing issue since 2014 and has raised concern from some members of the council. Council member Michael P. Callahan was the most vocal member when addressing this issue during the town’s council meeting.
Callahan wanted it to be made clear that the culinary school cannot officially open until a bus stop agreement has been fulfilled. To ease the worries of the council, the new resolution made sure to include language that explicitly stated that a bus stop has to be included before the program is open.
The two conditions also expressed in the resolution included the following:
- The culinary arts program must sell any goods it creates in the mall by having a kiosk near the Regal Cinemas.
- There will be cooking lessons in the evenings for residents. Discounted lessons will be available to senior citizens and those in the military.
The space was formerly home to a Johnny Rockets and the lack of a restaurant was a concern for the council. With these new conditions in place, members of Florida Technical College believe it will be beneficial for both the town and its residents.
“We are ready to execute the bus agreement and move forward with the resolution. We want to continue being a great part of Cutler Bay,” said James Burkett, president of Florida Technical College.
Luis Perez, a student and resident of Cutler Bay, believes the culinary program will be a good way to introduce more food options within Cutler Bay.
“Restaurants in the neighborhood that we need will all benefit from this program. It’s a wonderful school.”