BUILT TOUGH: Four US Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in Miami-Dade County will consolidate into one 90,000-square-foot hurricane-resistant building in Doral, according to General Services Administration regional spokeswoman Mildred Quinley. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement is an investigative branch of the US Department of Homeland Security. The building, at the Crossroads at Dolphin Commerce Park, is slated for completion by December.
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FLY BUY: Skybus Airlines, a budget airline based in Columbus, OH, is offering nonstop service to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. All flights originate or arrive in Columbus. Skybus Airlines' first flight service was in May, and the airline plans to be the least-expensive airline in the US.
SHORTCHANGED: Amid downtown revitalization discussions at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce's first New World Center committee meeting of the year, chamber Chairman Hank Klein asked if it was possible for Miami Police Chief John Timoney to shift his resources from other areas in the city to downtown. Mr. Timoney said no, adding, "There are parts of this city worse off than downtown." He said Coral Way is "even more shortchanged" and there are three or four other areas that need significant increases in the number of officers.
QUIET OBSERVER: Mr. Timoney said his department will install a series of closed-circuit wireless cameras around downtown within a month. The cameras will feed into the 911 system and allow extra surveillance in the area. "These are force multipliers," he said. Cameras will line Biscayne Boulevard and Flagler Street and eventually will reach Brickell and other areas of the city. Private businesses may purchase their own cameras for $27,000 each that would be wirelessly linked to the police department and 911.
DISNEY CRUISING OUR WAY? While Disney Cruise Line has no solid plans to leave longtime home Port Canaveral and has not engaged in formal talks with Port of Miami officials, Miami's port is among those the company may explore as it contemplates whether to renew its contract with Canaveral, to expire in 2008 with the option to renew on a yearly basis for 40 years. "We're exploring all options for our growing business," spokeswoman Christi Erwin said, although "we're very pleased with Port Canaveral." Disney is to add two new ships to its fleet in 2011 and 2012. Disney would be a good fit at Miami's port, said William Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. "We're the cruise capital of the world, so it would make sense," he said. "We're a family-friendly destination."
MEET YOUR NEIGHBORS: Local non-profit The Downtown Miami Partnership is hosting a networking event Aug. 2 for downtown residents and people interested in the area's future. The event starts at 5:30 p.m. at Latin American art gallery Casa del Arte, 168 SE First St., and is part of the partnership's Meet Your Neighbors social mixer series. The partnership was formed 30 years ago and is comprised of downtown property owners, residents and professionals. Details: (305) 379-7070.
BANNER BUSTING: Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff's strict proposal limiting murals in the city's downtown core is to be heard at today's (7/26) commission meeting, as a similar but potentially more lenient ordinance being crafted by city staff was "not ready for prime time," he said. His legislation would allow 15 murals. City staff was looking at setting the limit at 30, Orlando Toledo, senior director of building, planning and zoning, said last week. However, "the (city) manager, to his credit, is more than agreeable to hearing my outdoor advertising ordinance," Commissioner Sarnoff said.
MARKETING MOVEMENT: República, the firm charged with branding and advertising for the Downtown Development Authority, is "in the developmental stages of the whole look and feel" of creating a new logo, tagline and "overarching brand" for downtown, said Jorge Plasencia, República chairman and CEO. The new look is to be unveiled in September, he said. Full advertising campaigns are to follow.
BENEFICIAL BONDS: The first $103 million series of the City of Miami's voter-approved Homeland Defense/Neighborhood Improvement Project Bond has been issued to refinance about $106 million of outstanding bonds, saving $4.8 million in debt-service payments. The second issuance, $50 million, is to contribute to improvement projects. The millage rate for residents is not to be affected. The total bond issue has an interest rate of 4.7% due to bond ratings in the A-range from all agencies. City staff plans to repay the bond issues with ad-valorem taxes.
TRIPLE THREAT: Miami City Manager Pete Hernandez said that during a walking tour of downtown businesses, he found the No. 1 complaint of businesspeople was a lack of parking and inaccessibility to their businesses. The second-greatest concern was policing, and the third was cleanliness problems and homelessness in the area.
MILLAGE MATTERS: Miami's Office of Strategic Planning, Budgeting and Performance is to present to commissioners today (4/26) a proposed millage rate — 8.9955, the same as last year — for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Commissioners are to be asked to direct the city manager to present the rate to the Miami-Dade property appraiser and tax collector and set a date for a public hearing to discuss the rate and the proposed budget for the year.
PRESIDENT PURSUIT: The Zoological Society of Florida has hired John Mestepey of Edward W. Kelley and Partners to hunt for a new society president and CEO to replace Glenn Ekey, who served for 15 years and left the organization in May.
SMOOTH SAILING: Miami's Planning Advisory Board gave the thumbs-up this week to a plan for Coconut Grove's waterfront that calls for more open space, pedestrian connectivity to the waterfront and segregated sailing and motorized boat areas to make better and safer use of the water. The board has asked that planner Sasaki Associates continue to communicate with the Coconut Grove Sailing Club about a proposed move, to figure out a way to incorporate more trees into the plan and to ensure that dock relocation wouldn't infringe on the environment. The plan now requires a city commission vote.
POLICE THE POLICE: Miami-Dade County's Independent Review Panel — a civilian oversight body that monitors all county departments with a focus on law enforcement — is to hold a public meeting today (7/26) to plan a community conference on civilian oversight of law enforcement. The conference is designed to educate residents about the panel's services and citizen oversight of police in the county. The meeting is set for 2 p.m. at 140 W. Flagler St., Suite 908.
SIGN HERE: Miami commissioners are to be asked today (7/26) to approve developer Tibor Hollo's proposed One Bayfront Plaza, a project he intends to be known as Miami's signature building. The 70-story development, 100 S. Biscayne Blvd., is to cost $1.8 billion and include a mixed-use tower with more than 2 million square feet of rentable office space, 112,000 square feet of retail and 850 hotel rooms.
TRADE TALK: The Florida Foreign Trade Association on Aug. 2 is to host a luncheon and networking event to introduce area foreign trade commissioners. Brian Dean, executive director of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, is to speak on Realities and Myths of Free Trade Agreements. The event is set for noon-2 p.m. at the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant, 1395 NW 57th Ave. Details: (305) 471-0737.
CORRECTION: A July 19 article should have reported that Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff's proposed murals ordinance would ban code violators and buildings displaying a mural within the past five years from receiving permits and would require permit holders to post a $1 million bond or letter of credit to the city.