ASSISTANT MANAGER: Zachary L. Williams has been named assistant city manager in Coral Gables, replacing Susanne Torriente, who left in June to become an assistant Miami-Dade County manager. Mr. Williams will oversee the city's purchasing, finance, information-technology, parks and recreation, parking and automotive departments when he begins Sept. 2. He was assistant to the county administrator for Broward County.
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JUNGLE GARDEN: The new Parrot Jungle Island will be responsible for the design, construction, management and maintenance of Ichimura Miami-Japan Garden on Watson Island. The park and the City of Miami agreed on a seven-year deal for the garden as part of a 45-year lease. The city will pay Parrot Jungle's expenses to operate the garden and has received $657,000 in grants. Lester Collins Pancoast has been named lead architect and designer. The $1.2 million garden is 1 acre east of Parrot Jungle, which opened in July. The botanical garden opened in 1961 as San Ai-En Japanese Garden but closed in 1981. It was restored and renamed Ichimura Miami-Japan Garden in 1988 but was destroyed in 1992 by Hurricane Andrew.
BEST HOSPITALS: Nine programs at the University of Miami's Jackson Memorial Medical Center were recognized among the best in the country in US News & World Report's 14th annual America's Best Hospitals rankings. Bascom Palmer Eye Institute was named the second-best ophthalmology hospital. It has been rated first or second every year the rankings have been published. Other UM specialties in the top 40 were kidney disease; geriatrics; ear, nose and throat; digestive disorders; hormonal disorders; urology; rheumatology; and orthopedics. The magazine ranks 203 medical centers in 17 specialties.
SUNPASS SALES: Toll-road users now can buy SunPass transponders at Eckerd drugstores. A transponder placed inside a vehicle allows a driver with an active account to go through most area toll plazas, including Florida's Turnpike and the five Miami-Dade Expressways, without stopping at a booth. Formerly, transponders were sold only at Turnpike Service Plaza gift shops. They also can be purchased online at www.sunpass.com or by phone, (888) 865-5352.
MUSEUM DEGREE: Florida International University will begin offering a graduate program in museum studies this fall. The program is designed to prepare students for careers such as historic preservation, systematic biology, collection management, educational programming and public-policy planning. Registration begins Monday. Details: www.fiu.edu/gradadm/index'high.html.
BRANCHING OUT: Miami-based US Century Banks plans to open a branch in east Hialeah at 1100 E. Fourth Ave. in October and another in Doral on NW 87th Ave. The bank last week opened a branch in west Hialeah at 2750 W. 68th St. - the bank's second branch office since opening less than a year ago. Long-term expansion plans include branches in Coral Gables, Miami Lakes and West Miami. In the second quarter, the bank reported a net income of $366,000, up 305% from the first quarter.
MOVING UP: Florida Memorial College will offer its first graduate-degree courses next spring. The college, South Florida's only historically black college, received approval for master of science degrees in elementary, exceptional-student and kindergarten through 12th-grade reading education from the Southern Association of Colleges at its June meeting. The 124-year-old college says it produces the highest number of black teachers in the nation.
NEW COMMITTEE MEMBER: Attorney Bowman Brown, a senior partner at Shutts & Bowen, has been elected to the Florida International Bankers Association executive committee and named chairman of its Legal and Regulatory Affairs Committee. He is chairman of the law firm's financial-services group.
TOP CITY: Miami is ranked No. 1 on Hispanic Magazine's list of "Top 10 Cities for Hispanics." The magazine said the annual list is compiled after a comprehensive assessment of quality-of-life factors in major US metropolitan areas - including percentage of Hispanics, real estate, crime reports, earning statistics, political representation, education and growth potential. Miami was referred to as a "multicultural metropolis that has got it all" and moved from No. 3 last year on the basis of "a thriving majority Hispanic community, affordability, a strong job market, the highest university-level Hispanic enrollment in the nation, striking streetscapes and a loud and clear voice nationwide."
PROPERTY TOUR: The South Florida chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties will sponsor its annual bus tour of Miami-Dade County properties Oct. 24. The association, which represents developers and property owners, will tour Palm Beach County on Sept. 19 and Broward County on Nov. 14. Details: (954) 938-2137.
office represented the private seller.
GOURMET SUBLEASE: Airline caterer Gate Gourmet has subleased 55,000 square feet of warehouse space at 1855 NW 70th Ave. in the Airport West area. The company, whose clients include American Airlines and United, was forced to leave its former home by expansion work at Miami International Airport. Faith Freight Forwarding is the landlord and trucking firm Fashion Marketing International holds the lease. Ed Redlich of ComReal Miami Inc. negotiated the transaction.
BANKERS ASSEMBLY: The Florida International Bankers Association will host the Federation of Latin American Banks' annual assembly Nov. 23-25 in Miami. Among invited speakers are Henrique de Campos Meirelles, president of Central Bank of Brazil, and Randal K. Quarles, assistant secretary of the US Treasury. The event will take place during the week after the Free Trade Area of the Americas meetings. "We expect there will be some significant synergies between the two events," said Patricia Roth of the Florida association.
TOWN & COUNTRY REDEVELOPMENT: Codina Group Inc. said it will manage, lease and redevelop Town & Country Center, 8505 Mills Dr. in Kendall. The shopping center, owned by financial-services provider TIAA-CREF, has 601,942 square feet of leaseable space and six outparcel sites, a hotel and a strip convenience center with tenants such as AMC Theatres, Publix, Marshalls and Eckerd. The enclosed mall, which surrounds a six-acre lake, includes Ross Dress for Less, Sears, Lane Bryant and New York & Company. "Our goal now is to review the history of the mall, its tenant mix, demographics and other elements key to its success," said Trish Blasi, president of Codina Real Estate Management. "Then we will develop our strategy for how we can make it an even more successful center in the future."
STAYING PUT: Although former Miami Heat basketball star Alonzo Mourning has jumped to the NBA's New Jersey Nets for next season, Miami will remain the home court for both his permanent residence and his childrens' school, said Miami-Dade County Commission Chairwoman Barbara Carey-Shuler. Mr. Mourning attended the Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting and was recognized for his work with children in the Overtown neighborhood. He has raised $2.6 million for local charities through his annual fund-raising events dubbed "Zo's Summer Groove."
MULTILINGUAL WEB: The Florida Attorney General Office's Web site, www.myfloridalegal.com, is now available in seven languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, German, Chinese, Japanese and French. Changes were made to serve the state's diverse population and the wide range of tourists who visit the state, the office said.
CORRECTION: Miami-Dade County's five airports contributed $18.6 billion to local businesses last year, according to a study commissioned by the Department of Aviation. A headline in Miami Today's July 31 edition was inaccurate.