BETTER LATE THAN ...: Settlement of a long-disputed lease and development agreement established in 1988 to build housing projects around Miami Arena, which the city has sold, is on today's (1/27) Miami City Commission agenda. The agreement among the city, its Community Redevelopment Agency and Poinciana Village of Miami Ltd. and Sawyer's Walk Ltd. is for a proposed 598-unit development of three blocks in Overtown. If the commission approves, the agreement would let Sawyer's proceed with its plans and the balance of the Poinciana Village project.
MIAMI-DADE GLOBE: Now you don't have to be out of touch with county commission doings when you travel. The Miami-Dade County commission voted unanimously last week to direct County Manager George Burgess to provide live webcasts of all meetings of the commission and its committees. The commission cited the need of travelers and those who live outside the county to see commissioners in action. It will cost $285,000 to set up, the commission had been told by Ruben Lopez, director of the Enterprise Technology Services Department, and $70,000 a year for an employee to send commission doings into cyberspace.
EXPANSION TAX BREAK: The Miami-Dade County Commission is to consider today (1/27) a property-tax exemption for five years on improvements made by the American Bankers Insurance Group as an expanded business in a county Enterprise Zone. The company's $2.5 million expansion project would add 14 jobs, bringing employment to 1,505, of whom 42 work in the Enterprise Zone, according to county documents. The tax break is estimated to save the company $9,178 a year.
... AND ANOTHER BREAK: Hotel InterContinental Miami, too, is up for a five-year property-tax exemption today (1/27) on $738,000 in improvements that would add 58 jobs at the 484-employee hotel at 100 Chopin Plaza. Of those employees, the county says, 99 live in the Enterprise Zone, in which the hotel sits in the heart of downtown. The hotel's tax exemption would be good for $4,017 in savings a year.
COLOR ME LOST: Those who talk about crooks at the airport may be right. The Miami-Dade County commission is to vote today (1/27) on a $655,000 contract for EAC Consulting Inc., 815 NW 57th Ave., owned by Enrique Crooks, to plan for the repainting and refurbishment of the airport's Flamingo and Dolphin garages. EAC was top-ranked of 17 bidders. The contract, designed to take eight months, would prepare for $4.3 million in work that, among other things, would feature new color-coding, location numbering and signage in the massive garages.
HURRICANES' BRIGHT SIDE: Preparing for hurricane season could get more economical if the Legislature listens to the Miami-Dade County commission, which voted unanimously last week to ask Tallahassee to create a month-long sales-tax holiday in May for personal hurricane supplies and materials used to protect homes. That would include plywood, wind-resistant windows, generators and materials used to build safe rooms. There's a precedent of sorts: Florida has an annual sales-tax holiday for back-to-school supplies.
ODD JOBS: Scouts are in town looking for eccentric families to host hotel heiress Paris Hilton and Lionel Richie's daughter Nicole for the third season of their reality show, "The Simple Life." "We're going all over the country. In particular, we're looking for salsa dancers or body builders," said Damon Furberg, supervising casting director. "They had it easy last time," he said of the duo who try out different families and professions each week. "The host families need to be different. We don't want to take them out of one super-wealthy family and put them in another." Casting ends Monday, with production set to begin in March. Details: email@example.com or (818) 989-8963.
OTHER PRIORITIES: While Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez is seeking a strong-mayor form of government that strips some powers from commissioners, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz says he has other priorities and isn't looking to make changes in city government. "I am not saying the government is wrong or right," he said Tuesday. "It is just not a priority right now."
NEW ON THE BILL: A former billing manager at printing company St. Ives PLC, Kelly Barket, replaces Kenneth Grimes as director of the General Services Administration for the City of Miami. City Manager Joe Arriola, who hired Mr. Barket on Jan. 18, said he was the best candidate and his skills will allow him to excel in his new post. Responsibilities include the supervision of 168 employees; managing the city's motor fleet, office graphics and printing; and maintaining the city's facilities.
LOFTY PLANS: A sales center for Vitri, 500-550 Alton Road, an eight-story condo tower, will open on site this spring, said the project manager at Leviev Boymelgreen, Bob de la Fuente. "Majestic Properties will be in charge of sales. We are targeting fall to break ground, but nothing has been established," he said. The 1,500-square-feet lofts are to include 66 20-foot-high units. Prices aren't set. Details: (305) 757-1400.
RAIL USE RISES: Weekday ridership of Tri-Rail, the rail service linking Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, rose 6.8% in December from December 2003 after a 22.5% jump in November from November 2003, the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority reports. The average number of weekday riders in December was 8,891 persons.
MAKING TRACKS: The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority plans to seek more than $61 million in federal funds to upgrade passenger and freight rail service by improving tracks owned by the Florida Department of Transportation in Miami-Dade County. The authority will hold a hearing at 9:30 a.m. Monday on the fund request from the Federal Transit Administration. The hearing will be at 800 NW 33rd St., Suite 100, Pompano Beach. Details: (954) 935-1933.
SUPER JOB: Coral Gables businessman Rodney Barreto has been named chairman of the host committee for Super Bowl XLI in 2007, when South Florida welcomes the event for the ninth time. Mr. Barreto, a partner at public-affairs firm Barreto Cunningham May Dudley Maloy, will manage a team of 29 drawn from government and the business world who'll coordinate the event, which is to be staged at Dolphins Stadium for the fourth time. The Orange Bowl was the venue for five Super Bowls. Attorneys Victor Diaz and Albert Dotson Jr. and banker Angel Medina have been named co-chairmen for Miami-Dade.
GREENS SALE: Shoma Development Corp. has purchased the Greens at Doral, a 470,000-square-foot, 440-unit apartment complex at 4630 NW 97th Court in Doral, from TIAA for $69 million. Shoma, which is redeveloping the 44-acre Ryder campus in Doral into a mixed-use center, will convert the Greens' one- and two-bedroom apartments to condos, said Avery Klann, vice president of Apartment Realty Advisors. "We were in the market for about two weeks," Mr. Klann said, "and ultimately closed the deal in less than 60 days. There's incredible pent-up demand for apartment communities in Miami-Dade County and in South Florida." Details: www.arausa.com.
NEXT BAL HARBOUR? Developer Mully SB LLC bought Club One at 17141 Collins Ave. in Sunny Isles Beach from La Marta Inc. and individual unit owners for $12.8 million. The low-rise 1950s building, which contains 55 motel condo rooms, is to be replaced by a 35-story luxury high-rise condo complex with 88 units, said Bard Brenner, vice president of Sam Brenner Inc. The project will be surrounded by developments such as Fortune Development's Jade Beach and the Related Group's Ocean Four. "World-class projects are going up around here," Mr. Brenner said. "Sunny Isles is going to become the next Bal Harbour."
SHIFT AT MERCY: Mercy Hospital has a new chairwoman, architect Barbara Cekosh. She replaces Elizabeth Worley, who became CEO of Catholic Hospice in Hialeah. "We want to make communities aware of our modern, up-to-date facility," Sister Cekosh said. "I am looking forward to getting involved." One of the biggest problems in the industry, she said, is not being able to provide health care for enough patients. "Many people don't have adequate health care." She is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph in St. Augustine, who have overseen Mercy since its 1950 founding.
HEALTHY CHANGE: South Miami Hospital expects to complete the first phase of renovations of its 100,000-square-foot, six-story medical office building in June, says President Wayne Bracken. In a second phase, the hospital will add 20,000 square feet for its heart center and a new emergency room. That project is to begin in two months. As part of the $130 million expansion, the hospital selected as designers Bermello Ajamil & Partners, a Coconut Grove architectural firm. The idea is to have all cardiovascular services together in the second floor of the building. "We will be finishing the heart center in two years and the emergency sector in 2008," said Dub Evins, the architect's director of health-care design.
CORRECTION: Conversion of the Tides on South Beach to a condo-hotel is being undertaken by the Falor Companies, not the Salor Companies, as reported last week.
CORRECTION: A report last week quoting Debbie Castillo, marketing director at Loews Miami Beach, that September usually is one of the hotel's strongest months for conventions and meetings was in error. She said September was unusually busy with conventions and meetings.
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