STROKE OF SUCCESS: One Coral Gables gallery owner left Art Miami with a lighter load but a fuller pocket Monday after four days of exhibiting at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Ramon Cernuda of Cernuda Arte sold a number of works totaling about $1 million - including three by Cuban artist Wifredo Lam, two by compatriot Mario Carreno and an assortment of other pieces. A 1950 oil on canvas by Lam brought in $350,000, a Carreno brought $240,000 and other paintings sold for $10,000 to $100,000 each. "It's not about the number of visitors who attend," said Mr. Cernuda. "It's the number of collectors that matters."
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AWAITING WORD: Miami Beach Convention Center managers and city officials are awaiting word on when Miami-Dade County officials will distribute General Obligation Bond funds before determining the future of the center. Doug Tober, general manager of the center, managed by SMG of Philadelphia, said county officials and the city manager are meeting to discuss when the $55 million county voters earmarked for the convention center will be distributed. In November, city officials said convention center plans, which include a new ballroom and additional parking, may need to be revisited because they were based on a study conducted more than three years ago, before 9/11 and the hotel-condo conversion trend.
BAYFRONT PROMENADE: The Urban Environment League has handed government officials plans for a promenade to connect Bicentennial and Bayfront parks downtown via a strip of land east of American Airlines Arena. The plan went to the city and county mayors and managers as well as Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton, said league President Nancy Liebman. It was accompanied by a video with 30-minute presentations about US cities that have undergone successful waterfront redevelopment. "I would hope if they are serious, they would respond quickly," she said. "The plan will make a great destination for Miami."
STABLES OK: Miami's Planning and Zoning Board unanimously agreed Monday to let the Miami Police Department stable its horses at Lummus Park, the final step needed before construction on a stable can begin. The police now have eight stables at Tropical Park. The project at the park, 360 NW Third St., is to include 11 12-foot by 12-foot stables for 10 horses and an air-conditioned office at a cost of $500,000. Javier Torres, an associate for architectural firm MCHarry, which designed the stables, said construction should begin by the first week of April.
WORKFORCE BOOST: Officials are to increase funds for state workforce education programs by $102.8 million over the next year. The programs, operated by school districts and community colleges, prepare students for high-skill, high-wage jobs. Proposed targets for the funds include nursing, technology, homeland security and life sciences and biotechnology. State Education Commissioner John Winn said the increase, largest in eight years, is to boost adult education and literacy and provide students with skills that lead to increased job prospects. Details: www.myflorida.com.
OFFICE TO CONDO: A site at South Miami Avenue and Southeast Eighth Street in West Brickell once targeted for a new office tower may be sold to a residential developer, said owner W. Allen Morris, chairman of the Allen Morris Co. "We have been fending off buyers with a big stick," he said, "but it may be that the highest value for the land right now may be another condo or hotel. So we are considering selling the site rather than developing it ourselves."
SMALL VS. GIANT: A group of Key Biscayne condo owners is suing its management company claiming financial irregularity and lack of transparency about finances. The resident associations from Grand Bay Towers I and II allege in a suit filed Tuesday in circuit court that Grand Bay Master Association, developer GB/JT Hotel Partners and principals Donald Lefton and Sherwood Weiser withheld accounts and improperly assessed residents' contributions to a development that includes the Ritz-Carlton. Don Small of downtown Miami law firm Duane Morris is acting for the plaintiffs. Neither Mr. Lefton nor Mr. Weiser could be reached.
COLLEGE CHAIR: Helen Aguirre FerrČ, a bilingual print and TV journalist, was named chairwoman of Miami Dade College's board of trustees. Ms. FerrČ, who has served on the board for about six years, was chosen unanimously Tuesday after former chairman Roberto Martinez resigned following appointment to the State Board of Education. Ms. FerrČ is opinion-page editor for Diario Las Americas and moderator of "Issues," a public-affairs program on WPBT. Details: www.mdc.edu.
WAL MART JOBS: Wal Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, is set to expand into Miami Gardens in the next seven years. The company won zoning approval this month to build one of its Supercenters at the southeast corner of Northwest 27th Avenue and 199th Street. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan said the store would bring substantial economic benefit to the city. Recent Wal Mart openings in Florida have created about 500 jobs per store with an average wage of $9.96 per hour, according to the company's Web site. One stipulation of Miami-Dade's approval was that the store recruit 80% of its employees from Miami Gardens. Wal Mart reported $256.3 billion in sales for 2003.
BEACH HONOR: Miami Beach has been named one of Florida's best vacation destinations by the Florida Beaches Guide, an independent travel Web site. The Beach received a Golden Shell Award, also known as a Shelly, for the honor. The award is presented annually to more than 70 Florida beach destinations in 10 categories. The Beach also was ranked among the Top 10 spring-break destinations and among the top 10 nightspots. Details: www.floridabeachesguide.com.
COLOMBIANS TO VISIT: Government officials and businessmen from Pereira, Colombia, are to visit Miami-Dade County next week to establish closer cultural and commercial ties. The mission will include business matchmaking sessions. The delegation is to visit the Miami Free Zone and the Port of Miami and meet with state Rep. Juan Zapata, county Mayor Carlos Alvarez and County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez. The Colombians are to be here Tuesday through Jan. 22. Details: (305) 375-5280.
CHAMBERS LINK: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and the Latin Chamber of Commerce, or CAMACOL, signed an agreement Monday to promote trade. The pact is to strengthen advocacy efforts and encourage business development between the chambers' members. "This agreement is a valuable and important part of future business development for Greater Miami," said Barry Johnson, executive vice president of marketing and communications for the Miami chamber. "Both organizations are committed to working together to maximize international opportunities for our members and the Miami business community." Details: www.greatermiami.com.
BOUTIQUE HOTELS: Tecton Hospitality, a Miami provider of hotel-management services, is launching a boutique-hotel division called Desires offering operations, marketing, human-resources and financial-management services. Desire's portfolio consists of three Miami Beach boutique hotels - the 50-room Aqua, 66-room Wave and 83-room Circa 39. "We've been involved with the fast-growing boutique-hotel industry segment for a long time," said Doug Carrillo, Tecton's vice president of sales and marketing. Tecton operates branded hotels including full-service properties and resorts under the Sheraton, Marriott, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn and Best Western names.
SMALL-BUSINESS WORKSHOP: Miami-Dade County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa is holding a workshop this week to help small businesses apply for grants of up to $10,000. Friday's workshop is set for 10 a.m.-noon at Mr. Cool Appliances, 830 E. First Ave., Hialeah. The meeting is open to companies that employ fewer than seven people and have been in business for more than a year in county commission District 6, which includes West Miami, Miami Springs and parts of Coral Gables, Miami and Hialeah. The grants are part of a county program that will offer up to $100,000 to small businesses.
KENDALL AID: Miami-Dade County is offering $100,000 in grants for small businesses in West Kendall. A business may be eligible for up to $5,000. Applications are due Jan. 27. Forms are available at www.miamidade.gov/district11 or the district office, 1401 SW 107th Ave., Suite 301M. Businesses must be at least a year old, employ seven or fewer, not be part of a national chain and hold a county occupational license.
REDLANDS DELAYED: A hearing on a possible incorporation of the Redlands has been delayed. The Redlands, named for the tint of its soil, is a largely farming community south of Miami and west of Homestead with a population of about 11,334, according to the Miami-Dade County department of planning and zoning. Its residents had asked for the hearing but county commissioners deferred the matter without setting a new date.
HISPANIC MARKETING: The Strategic Research Institute is hosting its 11th annual Marketing to Latin America and US Hispanics seminar Jan. 25-27 at the Wyndham Miami Beach Resort. The event targets cross-border marketing growth and Latino media. Themes include analysis of the Hispanic vote in the 2004 elections and exporting messages across cultural borders. Details: Rupa Ranganathan, firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 599-4950.