LANDING MILLIONS: Nearly $7.6 million in federal funding will be used to improve the north runway at Miami International Airport, US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced. The Department of Transportation funds will be used to construct improvements designed to increase capacity and reduce delays on the runway, the airport's second-longest.
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MOVER MOVING: The county commission this week was to receive bids for an estimated $367.5 million contract to design, build and operate an elevated automated people-mover system that is to connect Miami International Airport with the Miami Intermodal Center, said Greg Chin, aviation department spokesman. The system, which is to transport 3,287 passengers per hour in each direction, will go along Central Boulevard with two end stations, one at the intermodal center and the other at the airport between the third levels of the Dolphin and Flamingo parking garages. Commissioners are to award the three-year contract in August. The $1.3 million intermodal center is to include a rental-car hub and a central station linking all forms of mass transit. The project is to be completed in 2010.
OASIS AT CITY HALL: Miami commissioners are to look at eight planning and zoning items today (2/23) for development of Oasis on the Bay, planned to have two towers standing 20 stories and 205 feet tall. Oasis, at North Bayshore Drive, Northeast Bayshore Court and Northeast 79th Street, plans 467 residential units, 4,200 square feet of retail and 719 parking spaces. Commissioners are to vote on changing land use at 7951 NE Bayshore Court from Office to Restricted Commercial, changing zoning code from R-3 Multifamily Medium Density Residential to C-1 Restricted Commercial at 7921 N. Bayshore Dr. and 7950 NE Bayshore Court, and closing parts of a street at Northeast Bayshore Court between Northeast 79th and 80th streets. River Bait and Tackle LLC is also asking commissioners for a major use special permit to build the project.
DOES HISTORY REPEAT ITSELF? To be historic or not to be historic - that is the question for the Coconut Grove Playhouse, 3500 Main Highway, which today (2/23) is appealing October's unanimous decision of Miami's Historic and Environmental Preservation Board that deemed the theater an historic site. Miami commissioners are to vote whether to uphold the board's decision or approve the appeal. The city's planning department recommended denial of the appeal.
CONDOMINIMUM: MDM Group USA, developer of the MET 2 at 200 SE Third St., one of three towers of the urban development Metropolitan Miami, is going before the Miami City Commission today (2/23) seeking modification of its major use special permit to add offices and eliminate condo units. Plans for the 640-foot tower are being changed to encompass 700,000 square feet of commercial and office space, a 400-unit hotel and 3,689 parking spaces.
GOOD FRIENDS: Judy Drucker, founder of the Concert Association of Florida, told an audience at last week's performance by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra at the Jackie Gleason Theater on Miami Beach why her organization will remain independent from the new Miami Performing Arts Center when it opens in downtown Miami this fall. "I just didn't feel like being a development director, so we all parted as very good friends," she said. But, she said, the concert association does plan to follow through as one of the four resident presenters at the new center.
BOUNCING BACK: St. Thomas University is teaming with former Miami Heat coach Stan Van Gundy to relaunch the school's basketball teams in time for the 2007-08 season. The Bobcats will field men's and women's teams in time for reentry into the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Mr. Van Gundy is to act as an advisor and public spokesman and be co-chairman of the hiring committees that are to select coaches.
A ROUND $50,000: A Florida Memorial University alumnus who hopes to become the first African-American aviator to fly around the world solo received $50,000 from the Miami-Dade County Commission Tuesday to help him on his way. Barrington Irving, who at 22 has his commercial pilot's license, is said to be the youngest man to embark on the round-the-world trip, which he plans to start in May. He reportedly turned down offers of sports scholarships to pursue his dream of flying. Commissioner Barbara Jordan presented a check for $48,500 to Mr. Irving minutes before the commission voted to raise it to $50,000.
PEEPING TOURISTS: Taking a page from reality TV, tourists now can tune into live images in two parts of Miami, with a third to come, and see sights as they are happening on a new Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau Web site. "We've developed a very cost-effective way to allow the consumer to actually pan any of three cameras to the vista of their choice," said William D. Talbert III, bureau CEO. "One is already live atop the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay, offering views of the bay, the Port of Miami and nearby attractions. Another offers a birds-eye view of Lincoln Road in South Beach. The third camera, expected to go live by late spring, is slated for a South Beach hotel rooftop to offer live ocean and beach scenes." The site, www.seemiamilive.com, also offers access to a calendar of Miami happenings.
CONDOS FOR LIMA: Developers of The Lima are asking Miami commissioners today (2/23) for a major use special permit to build a 473-foot, 41-story mixed-use project with 207 residential units, 7,544 square feet of retail space, 30,430 square feet of existing office space and 363 parking spaces at 2919 and 2937 Biscayne Blvd. and 330 NE 30th St. The applicants are 2937 Ferrari LLC and 2915 Biscayne LLC, both represented by attorney Adrienne Pardo.
BACK TO THE '60s: In an e-newsletter from the office of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, Chief of Police John Timoney stated that "overall crime in Miami fell by 5% while violent crime declined by 8%" last year. Homicides, he wrote, declined 20%, "reducing the number of those murdered to a level not seen since the mid-1960s."
HOMEBOUND MEALS: Miami's Department of Community Development is asking city commissioners to authorize the transfer of $50,000 from the Housing Opportunities For Persons with AIDS fund to Sunshine For All Inc. to provide home-delivered meals to homebound persons in the Housing Opportunities program.
ONE STOP, ONE STEP: MovieMaker in its winter edition has ranked Miami seventh among cities for filmmakers in which to live and make movies. In 2005, the three Greater Miami film offices launched One Stop Permitting, an Internet-based film permit application process, which resulted in a big draw for filmmakers and producers and is part of the reason MovieMaker moved Miami up one notch from eighth last year, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
SPA SPOT: Visitors to cyberspace can learn which Miami spas make the cut to be listed in Canada's Travel to Wellness as among the Best of the Miami Spas. The article is to be published in April at www.traveltowellness.com.
HEADQUARTERS CITY: Miami Today's International Roundtable focuses on Miami as a corporate headquarters in an afternoon panel discussion March 9 sponsored by the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County's economic development arm. The free 5 p.m. session at the Hyatt Regency Coral Gables will be followed by a reception. Details and RSVP: Jannina Roman, (305) 358-2663.
NEW ROLES: The Brickell Area Association elected Hal Martell of Plexus/M2 president, Carl Walters of Facchina-McGaughan president elect and William Holly of Holly Real Estate first vice president. ... Miami Beach's city commission added florist Israel Sands and Ileana Bravo-Gordon of Ileana Bravo Productions to its Cultural Arts Council. ... Baptist Hospital's 1,800-person medical staff elected ophthalmologist Eugene Eisner president and re-elected gastroenterologist Seth Rosen vice president.
BOOK BONANZA: A special federal appropriation of $250,000 will be used to enhance resources of the 5,000-square-foot library at the Hialeah campus of Miami Dade College. The funds will add 15,000 books and more computers for student use. The site, which opened in 1980 as the Hialeah Outreach Center, was upgraded to a campus last year and now serves nearly 5,000 students.
THIRD TERM: Gov. Jeb Bush has reappointed county school board vice chairman Perla Tabares Hantman to a third term on the Metropolitan Planning Organization, which has authority over Miami-Dade transportation matters. Her term ends in December 2009.