PAVING WAY TO PORT: Miami-Dade County's transportation planning board unanimously approved a plan to revamp several roadways to the Port of Miami. Improvements will lower Fifth and Sixth streets so larger trucks can use them and synchronize traffic lights to speed access between Interstate 95 and the port. The port will pick up the $5 million bill for the project, said director Chuck Towsley.
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ACOUSTIC CONCERNS: A plan that would move portions of Interstate 395 east and below ground has Performing Arts Center representatives concerned about how it would affect the $370 million complex now under construction. Antonio Roca of the Performing Arts Center Trust, which will operate the facility, said trust members fear the proposed reconfiguration could harm the acoustics of the center on Biscayne Boulevard between 13th and 14th streets. He also said the new highway would be too near the center's loading dock, which will accommodate up to 14 semi-trailers. The Metropolitan Planning Organization voted last week to study the plan, which would demolish the existing, elevated stretch of I-395 cutting through Overtown and move the expressway.
CAR GO: Rental-car companies planning to move into a transportation hub near Miami International Airport must charge each renter a $3.25 user fee until the $1.3 billion center opens and $4 after they move in, said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary John Martinez. The fee to help build the Miami Intermodal Center took more than five years of negotiations. Now the companies can sign a final agreement for the center. Construction on the hub's first phase began during the summer and should take five years.
FLAG-WAVING: Miami-Dade county commissioners and their aides traded business attire for Marlins garb at Tuesday's commission meeting. Javier Souto brought a Marlins miniflag that he propped on the podium and many commissioners wore Marlins T-shirts and jerseys. The meeting adjourned for several afternoon hours so all could attend the team's victory parade.
DAILY TO MUNICH: Miami International Airport began direct service to Munich, Germany, last week via Lufthansa Airlines. The direct daily service departs from Miami at 6:40 p.m. and arrives in Miami at 4:40 p.m. Passengers fly on a Boeing 767-300, which seats 218.
NEW UM TRUSTEES: Steven Saiontz, chairman of Union Bank of Florida, and Paul Cejas, CEO of PLC Investments, have joined the University of Miami board of trustees, which helps govern the university. Mr. Saiontz's background is in real estate, banking and retail. Mr. Cejas served as US ambassador to Belgium and has a background in health care.
SECURITY UPDATE: Miami police plans to secure downtown during negotiations on a Free Trade Area of the Americas pact will be detailed to the Brickell Area Association at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Courvoisier Center II, 601 Brickell Key Drive. More than 20,000 demonstrators are expected downtown Nov. 17-21 to oppose plans to open trade barriers among 34 nations of the Western Hemisphere. Police that week will administer road closures and heavy security. Details: (305) 375-0080.
ART MIAMI: Miami's burgeoning art scene is spotlighted in the October issue of Conde Nast Traveler. With international art show Art Basel set for Dec. 4-7, the travel magazine plugs many of Miami's hangouts, highlighting locales in the Design District, Wynwood and Little Havana among other spots in the county. A feature article includes interviews with area art mavens such as hoteliers Don and Mera Rubell and daughter Jennifer and real-estate developer Craig Robins.
PUB PLUG: Miami City Commissioner Arthur Teele Jr. plugged Churchill's Hideaway last week at Miami Edison Middle School to an audience on hand to hear plans for a park in Little Haiti. He has helped the longtime English pub in Little Haiti get special licenses to let patrons view televised World Cup soccer games in the wee hours. The pub, at 5501 NE Second Ave., boasts a national reputation as the area's top venue for punk-rock shows.
A GOOD JOE: Mr. Teele also took time during the presentation to praise Miami Chief Administrator Joe Arriola for his work on creating a Little Haiti park, calling him a "truly great city manager for the Haitian community and the entire community." That's a far cry from earlier this year, when the two butted heads and Mr. Teele threatened to call for Mr. Arriola's resignation during City Commission meetings.
SCHOOLS WIN PASS: Bent Tree, Biscayne Gardens, Charles R. Drew and Palm Lakes elementary schools in Miami-Dade County will receive $30,000 each from the Council for Educational Change to finance family literacy activities through the Council's PASS program. PASS partners the business community with schools looking to improve student achievement. The Council for Educational Change is a statewide non-profit group that seeks to improve education and raise student achievement.
PALMETTO BURGER: The Village of Palmetto Bay plans a meeting Dec. 8 to start a design charrette on uses for the former home of Burger King between Old Cutler Road and Biscayne Bay at 184th Street. Sessions to be overseen by town planners Dover Kohl & Partners are to continue through Dec. 12. The city is using 8950 SW 152nd St. for offices, but its council has been negotiating with site owner Grouper Financial on use of a 34,000-square-foot, three-story office building and the rest of the 80-acre site. If the city buys or leases the property, the building would be named Palmetto Bay Village Center, said Grouper President Scott Silver. A meeting of the Palmetto Bay Village Advisory Committee is scheduled for Monday to prepare for the main event.
ON SCHEDULE: Site work for a Wal-Mart Supercenter at The Mall at 163rd Street is due to be done by Feb. 23, says mall owner New Plan Excel Realty Trust. A vacant Mervyn's building and two parking decks have been razed. Trees near the demolition area are being shifted to the Wal-Mart site, and the vacant part of a former Burdines building is being demolished from the inside, mall officials said. The mall - which comprises 60 stores, including Marshall's, Radio Shack and Foot Locker - is to remain open during construction of Wal-Mart, which is to open in 2005.
ARMENIA-BOUND: Former Beacon Council CEO John Anderson and wife Maggie Megee, ex-vice president for marketing and research at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, are to leave Saturday for Armenia to set up that nation's first national tourism program. It's a six-week assignment from the International Executive Service Corps, one of several groups for which the two have volunteered since he retired a year ago as head of Enterprise Florida, the state's economic-development organization and she as vice president Orlando's convention bureau. Armenia was the Soviet Union's Silicon Valley, Mr. Anderson said, but has floundered since becoming the first of 15 ex-Soviet republics. The idea is to create an economy-stimulating government-business tourism effort.
CORRECTION: The Miami Intermodal Center, a proposed transportation hub near Miami International Airport, is to cost more than $1 billion. The bidding process for a light-rail connector between Miami International and the transportation hub is to begin in three months. Miami Today inaccurately reported the cost of the hub and the time required for the bidding process.
CORRECTION: Participants in a study on the arts commissioned by the Performing Arts Center Trust attended one entertainment performance of any sort in the past year, not necessarily a performance by a future Performing Arts Center resident company, as we reported last week.