ARTS CENTER PARKING: The Miami Parking Authority at its July 12 meeting is expected to approve a contract authorizing the Miami Performing Arts Center to use school parking, said Tim Dodson, an authority spokesman. "We had anticipated that item coming before the board on June 7, but it was not completed in time," he said. "There is due diligence involved, and the agreement is being reviewed." A contract for the authority to oversee all 2,800 spaces for the center may be a topic at the same meeting, he said. Meanwhile, negotiations continue for an additional 1,000 spaces near the center, according to Suzette Espinosa, arts center publicist.
OUT AT HOME (DEPOT): Stepping into a heated Coconut Grove battleground, Miami's zoning board voted 8-1 Monday to deny construction of a specially designed Home Depot store at 2999 SW 32nd Ave. in a shopping center that formerly housed a Kmart. The city's planning department approved a permit April 7, but Grove residents who complained that the store would add traffic to the area appealed the permit and won. The fight, however, may not be over. Home Depot has the right to appeal to the Miami City Commission, which has the final word.
WE'RE SET: Miami is atop The Reader's Digest list of cities best-prepared for disaster, whether hurricane, bird-flu pandemic or terrorist attack, the magazine reports in its July issue after weighing emergency readiness, crisis communication and medical response. Miami, New York and Washington led the 10 high-risk urban cities, with Miami meeting standards in 10 of 11 categories the magazine established. The magazine says it met with federal and local emergency workers, analyzed government documents and contacted mayors' offices.
CANDID CAMERA: Crime Stoppers of Miami-Dade County will be on the case surveying illegal dumping via 25 cameras rotating countywide if a study ordered 11-0 by the county commission last week indicates potential success. Eight commissioners sponsored the resolution.
EXECUTIVE THINKING: Opa-locka Airport was renamed Opa-locka Executive Airport last week by a 12-0 voted of the county commission.
BID PROTESTS GET HARDER: In a commission chamber where procurement battles between competing companies have triggered citizen backlashes against elected officials, the Miami-Dade County commission last week voted unanimously to shorten the window for bid protests from 10 days to three and tacked on an unspecified filing fee for protestors. Unless Mayor Carlos Alvarez vetoes the measure, it is to take effect Friday.
RED CROSS: The American Red Cross last week added a director for its Greater Miami and the Keys branch. Harold Patricoff Jr., attorney at Miami law firm Shutts & Bowen LLP, joins 46 others on the Red Cross board, serving a three-year term beginning July 1. The Coral Gables resident also serves on boards of the Jay Malina International Trade Consortium and the Latin Builders Association. Mr. Patricoff said he plans to assist in local relief efforts throughout the hurricane season.
UNIFIED COMMUNICATION: County Manager George Burgess has created the Miami-Dade Government Information Center, combining the county's World Wide Web portal, miamidade.gov and 311 Answer Center. "By calling 311 or contacting us via the Internet, residents have a more effective way to do business with Miami-Dade," he said. "The integration of these efforts into a single countywide strategy for customer service is a significant long-term effort designed to simplify service regardless of the manner in which residents choose to access their government." Judi Zito, who helped with the county's Web site, directs the center. Donald Fleming, director of enterprise technology, was named chief information officer.
THE RITZ WAY: When the Miami Performing Arts Center opens, it should boast a well-trained staff after two weeks of training by the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne. The $25,000 program, donated by the resort as a "housewarming" gift, will teach staff to maintain eye contact, use proper grammar and greeting language, escort patrons rather than pointing directions and calm them if they are upset. The resort's teachers include General Manager Marco Selva and Chris Hamaway, director of sales and marketing.
WYNDHAM TAKES OFF: Miami-Dade commissioners voted unanimously last week to install flight-information monitors and boarding-pass kiosks in the lobby of the Wyndham Miami Airport Hotel, 3900 NW 21st St. The hotel will pay $3,157 a month for licensing and installation plus state and federal taxes and make a $10,134 security deposit. Miami International Airport will pay for installation. The hotel is to cover equipment operating and maintenance costs. Maurice Jenkins, airport manager of information systems, said the monitors and kiosks will be running within a month.
SAVOY RETREAT: Miami Beach residents and tourists wishing to experience the Savoy hotel without checking in can join the Savoy Club, opening today (6/15). "We wanted to create a private retreat where people can enjoy the spectacular fine, white Miami Beach sand while also experiencing the Savoy's first-rate amenities," said Savoy General Manager Patrick Goddard. Fees range from $35 daily to $550 for today through Nov. 15. Children's rates are available. Details: (305) 532-0200, Ext. 5241, or email@example.com.
BAR HELP: About $25,000 will help women and children beset by domestic violence thanks to Raise the Bar, a networking and cocktail event at which more than 225 legal professionals sipped wine and beer to benefit the Women's Club of Miami-Dade. Proceeds from the event at Sports Club/LA in the Four Seasons will go for grants to remove barriers faced by women in accessing basic services and provide legal aid. The organization's grant-making program began in 1993 and has supported more than 150 projects and organizations, nurturing innovative gender-specific programs.
CHINA SCOUTS: Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau officials, following up on a mission to China, hosted executives from China's largest tour operator and a TV crew from the government-owned network, comprised of seven major channels with an estimated 1 billion viewers. The group was in town for two weeks scouting locations and filming. Local hosts included Royal Caribbean, which is to host "Super Model Match," an international model competition to be televised throughout Asia in December. Miami is to be promoted as a cruising destination.
HALL OF FAME: The Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce is to honor Maria Sastre, chairwoman of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and Royal Caribbean's vice president of international sales, with its annual Travel & Tourism Hall of Fame Award at a June 25 luncheon aboard Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas. She is being honored for significant contribution to the Miami Beach community. Details: (305) 695-6834.
MIAMI UK-STYLE: Top Shop, UK's leading clothing fashion store, will be decked out in a Miami theme June 16-25. The front windows, three floors and in-store restaurant of the Oxford flagship store will be decorated in a Top Shop Goes Miami theme. A trip to Miami for two is top prize in a contest on the store Web site and in its online newspaper. About 80,000 shoppers visit Top Shop Oxford weekly. The promotion will also run in the weekly Grazia Magazine.
GERMAN EXPOSURE: A travel writer from Germany's Merian travel magazine is to be here this week researching an issue on Florida that is to include four articles featuring Miami and list the top 10 museums in the city and state. The issue is expected to be released in January. Merian's circulation is 92,075.
PIRATES IN THE PARK: Pirates Adventure, a European company that began 22 years ago entertaining tourists in Mallorca, Spain, with high-seas adventures, has negotiated a contract with the Bayfront Park Management Trust for its US debut with a pirate boat show at Bicentennial Park. "We have a contract and are moving ahead with the production," said Tim Schmand, the park trust's executive director. The show blends music, comedy and drama with special effects and stunts.
GUSMAN SOARS: The Gusman Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami hosted a record 70,480 guests for its 2005-06 season, operators reported. Concession sales of more than $100,000 also set a record.
HOME UPGRADE LOANS: Miami's Department of Community Development is offering to lend up to $35,000 to qualifying low-income homeowners in the city seeking to repair properties under the Single Family Rehabilitation Program. Loans can help with roofing, electrical, plumbing or structural upgrades. Details: (305) 416-2080.
CORRECTION: The address of the James L. Knight Center is 400 SE Second Ave. It was incorrectly reported last week.
CORRECTION: In the June 8 article "Bucking overall trend, Gables market continues to thrive," views of developer Jim Rosewater should have been phrased that he sees an opportunity to make a substantial profit with Coral Gables projects.
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