TOURISM-TAX BONANZA: Thanks to robust tourism, revenue from hotel taxes such as the countywide Convention Development Tax was up nearly 12% in the first quarter from a year earlier. The tax generated about $15.4 million January through March, up from $13.7 million in the same period last year. The tax in part supports the building of such facilities as the Miami Performing Arts Center.
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REDEVELOPMENT DEFERRED: The Miami-Dade County commission has unanimously deferred a move to create the Biscayne Corridor Community Redevelopment Agency, a measure the commission adopted on first reading in January. The area is between Northeast 112th and 116th streets from Biscayne Boulevard on the east to Northeast 14th Avenue on the west. In July 1998, the commission declared the area a slum or blighted area that needed redevelopment.
64-STORY TOWERS DENIED: Miami's zoning board Monday voted to deny a zoning change that would have allowed construction of a pair of 64-story towers on the Miami Herald site fronting Biscayne Bay. The city commission will make the final decision. The board voted 4-2 to deny the change from C-2 commercial, with a height limit of 120 feet or 12 stories, to SD-6, which would allow unlimited height. Herald Plaza Parcel 1 is designed with 650 residential units, 24,000 square feet of commercial space and 1,064 parking spaces. Herald Plaza Parcel 3 would have 554 residential units, 4,000 square feet of retail and 700 parking spaces. Developer Terra Group is to take the project before the city's planning and zoning board May 17.
TAKE ON TOURISM: William D. Talbert, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, is to address Miami city commissioners today (5/11). "We will be giving the commission a tourism snapshot and update on tourism in Miami for 2005," he said. He has spoken to the Miami-Dade commission and the Miami Beach commission and will visit the Coral Gables commission May 23.
KEY TO THE KEY: Miami commissioners today (5/11) are being asked to accept the Virginia Key Beach Park Master Plan. The plan is a guide for development, preservation and beautification of the beach prepared by Wallace Roberts & Todd LLC.
SERVING THE ELDERLY: Resolutions from Miami's Department of Community Development for services to the elderly are to go before the city commission today (5/11). One would grant $20,000 for Allapattah Community Action Inc. to provide meal services to the elderly. The second would transfer $99,200 of US Department of Housing and Urban Development funds for rehabilitation of an elderly facility at 5617 NW Seventh St.
HURRICANE HOTLINE: The City of Miami Beach is preparing for hurricane season and wants residents who wish to be notified via cell phone of important notifications such as evacuation orders to register their cell numbers. Register at http://miamibeachfl.gov/newcity/reverse911/mainpage.asp.
PARKING FEE DOUBLES: The Miami Beach Parking Department is raising its special-events parking rate to $10, effective immediately. The $5 rate had stood for 10 years.
POW WOW HOP: William Talbert, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau president and CEO, recently went all the way to China to promote tourism, but this week, he had only to hop over to Orlando for one of the world's biggest trade shows, the Travel Industry Association's International Pow Wow. The event attracts more than 1,000 domestic travel organizations from every region of the US to meet with almost 1,500 international and domestic travel buyers from more than 70 nations, conducting negotiations that generate more than $3.5 billion in US travel. In 2009, Mr. Talbert and his team won't have to venture far at all - the Pow Wow is to be in Miami.
NEWEST SHOPPING MALL: Miami International Airport's bid to spruce up travelers' shopping is to be spotlighted at 2 p.m. Monday when the county unveils its new collection of retailers at the grand opening of more than a dozen trendy name-brand shops. "MIA's dynamic new Central Terminal retail program brings 100% pure Miami flavor to the passengers' shopping experience," said spokeswoman Lauren Stover. Shops include Mindworks, Brookstone, Bayside Brush, Airport Wireless, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Havana Shirt Shop, Borders and Hudson News. The grand opening, during National Tourism Week, will feature food samples, product demonstrations, a fashion show, book signings, children's characters, prizes and coupons.
HISTORIC CRUISE: Members of the Historical Museum of Southern Florida will cruise to Key West and Playa del Carmen, Mexico, in November aboard Carnival's Imagination, but it won't be a typical cruise. Included will be a behind-the-scenes tour of the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum and the treasures of the ship Atocha in Key West, a lecture in full Maya costume by Jim Reed of the Institute of Maya Studies and other history-oriented excursions. Cabins start at $299 per person. Details: (305) 375-1621.
MUSEUM DAY: If you have some time off next Thursday, why not visit a museum? May 18 is International Museum Day, and 16 Miami museums are celebrating the event, which promotes the role of museums in maintaining cultural heritage. Museums' plans to celebrate this year's theme, "Museums Bridging Cultures," include free guided tours, free or reduced admission fees, behind-the-scenes tours, gift-shop discounts and promotions for new museum members.
CANADA EYES SOUTH BEACH: A crew from Pink Planet TV in Canada is to be in Miami this week filming an upcoming segment on South Beach and events like Aqua Girl. The fast-paced gay and lesbian culture show takes viewers to gay festivals, events and celebrations around the world. Each 30-minute episode focuses on a gay-friendly destination. The show, seen by about 100,000 viewers, is broadcast on several outlets throughout Canada.
LEADERS FROM LEADERSHIP: Leadership Miami alumni will be honored by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce on May 20 at a dinner during its goals conference. Honorees will be Angel Medina Jr., group president of Regions Bank Miami-Dade; Alvin West, chief financial officer and senior vice president of administration of the chamber; Luis Ajamil, president of Bermello Ajamil & Partners Inc.; Willy Bermello, chairman and CEO of Bermello Ajamil and president and CEO of BAP Development Inc.; Miami Mayor Manny Diaz; Mikki Canton, shareholder at Gunster Yoakley & Stewart PA; and Seth Gordon, managing partner at Gordon Reyes & Co.
MOVING UP: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce has named Carlos R. Fernandez-Guzman, executive vice president and director of marketing for BankUnited, its next first vice chairman, a move up the ladder to chamber chairman in two years. Adolfo Henriques is to take over as chairman from Rosa Sugrañes at the chamber's goals conference this month, when Hank Klein, the current first vice chairman, will become chairman-elect.
LOST LUGGAGE: Bargain hunting? Check out Miami International Airport's lost-and-found auction Saturday, featuring more than 500 suitcases plus about 500 items that include laptops, cell phones, digital cameras, TVs, musical instruments, jewelry, toys, artwork and more. "These aren't yard-sale items. The bargains can be very good," said Greg Chin, spokesman for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department. "They are items that either have been misplaced or left behind when passengers realize they can't afford to pay for them to be carried on the plane." The auction begins at 9 a.m. at 5600 NW 36th St., building 845, Third Floor. Admission is $3 for adults and free for those younger than 18, and parking is free. Cash and carry. Details: (305) 778-0568.
RECRUITERS FLOCK IN: New college graduates have reason to smile if a recent job fair at the University of Miami is any indication. University officials report that a recent career expo at the Toppel Career Center drew a record 172 companies recruiting graduates for that important first job. Students graduating in civil and environmental engineering, nursing, health sciences and education were the most highly sought. The State Department and other US government agencies are wooing graduates with signing bonuses, especially if they are willing to live abroad and speak a foreign language. Finance and accounting majors are looking beyond the more traditional banking or investment positions as companies like Target and Lennar fill management positions with business graduates. Details: (305) 284-5451 or www.miami.edu/toppel.