SETTLED CIRCLE: The state is to formally partner with the Historical Museum of Southern Florida to manage Brickell's famed Miami Circle site, a 2,000-year-old remnant of the Tequesta people, by executing a sublease this week, State Archaeologist Ryan Wheeler said. Bob McCammon, museum president and CEO, has said the museum may create in the future a "passive park kind of environment" with posted educational information about the circle's history.
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BASEL PARKING: The Shops at Midtown Miami's parking garage at Northeast 31st Street and North Miami Avenue, which can accommodate about 1,200 cars, is to serve as official parking for Art Basel at a special event rate of $5. Buses from the City of Miami are to be available to transport visitors to 70 local art fairs.
BEAUTIFYING OVERTOWN: Miami commissioners are to host a groundbreaking at 10 a.m. today (11/29) for the Overtown Third Avenue business corridor streetscape project at Northwest Third Avenue and Ninth Street. The project, funded by the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency, is to cost $4.35 million and be completed in April. It's to include new paving and drainage, new sidewalks, paved crosswalks, roadway reconstruction, decorative lighting, seating and landscaping.
BUDGET BATTLES: Miami-Dade commissioners have deferred a proposal to hire an outside advisor to review the role of the commission's auditor in preparing the county budget. The Budget and Finance Committee put off the measure until Dec. 11. The budgeting operation is now under the wing of Mayor Carlos Alvarez in the strong mayor system adopted this year, but Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, in seeking an outside study, notes that the commission retains power to adopt the budget. She wants to see how the auditor's office, which the commission has empowered to create and staff its own budget section, can help commissioners in budgeting. Commissioner Carlos Gimenez last month withdrew a proposal to have the commission create its own budget.
PRESERVING WETLANDS: A team that's seeking to preserve the Everglades and South Florida ecosystem will meet on Virginia Key Dec. 14 to get an update on the Biscayne Bay coastal wetlands. The Biscayne Bay Regional Coordination Team — representing state, federal, local and tribal governments — will meet at 10 a.m. at the Atlantic Oceanographic Meteorological Laboratory, 4301 Rickenbacker Causeway. Details: Mary Plumb, (305) 348-1662.
DELEGATION CHAIRMEN: The Miami-Dade County Legislative Delegation last week elected Florida Rep. Juan C. Zapata chairman for 2007-08 and Rep. Luis Garcia Jr. vice chairman. Mr. Zapata, a Republican first elected to the House in 2002, served as vice chairman last term. "My personal goal as chairman will be to utilize state resources to increase access to primary healthcare for the uninsured in Miami-Dade County," Mr. Zapata said in a written statement. Mr. Garcia, elected to the House in 2006, also serves as vice chairman of the Florida Democratic Party.
NEW FIREBOAT: A second high-speed fireboat will join Miami-Dade Fire Rescue to patrol the county's north end and assist at the Port of Miami. The 36-foot boat is to be christened today (11/29) during a 10 a.m. ceremony at the Haulover Marina. It will be stationed on the county's coast and waterways, according to a county statement. The boat is to handle marine fires, search-and-rescue and emergency medical services. The first fireboat was commissioned in April.
HKS OPENS MIAMI OFFICE: One of the top revenue-generating architectural firms in the US and the world has opened an office at 1221 Brickell Ave., suite 1220. Francisco Gonzalez is heading the office for HKS Inc., which has 21 locations in the US and overseas. "The Miami office allows us to expand locally and grow our global practice in Central and South America, Spain and the Caribbean," he said in a prepared statement. Dallas-based HKS also has offices in Tampa and Orlando and generates about $500 million annually in construction in Florida. Current projects include expansion of Baptist Hospital, the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach and the Fairmont Turnberry Isle Ocean Resort Hotel & Residences in Sunny Isle Beach. HKS employs more than 100 in the state. The Miami office is expected to employ 12 by year's end.
CALLING AFFORDABLE HOUSING DEVELOPERS: Miami's Department of Community Development this week requested proposals from developers to create mixed-use or residential affordable housing in Liberty City. The City is offering lots as-is and is requiring the chosen developer to provide all financing for construction and operating expenses. Proposals are due at 3 p.m. Jan 4. Details: www.miamigov.com/communitydevelopment/pages/rfq.
PARK PREVIEW: The design for the Miami Art Museum's 120,000-square-foot-home planned for Museum Park is to be on display Dec. 1-April 6 at the existing museum at 101 W Flagler St. Contractors are to break ground late next year with a projected 2011 opening. Details: (305) 375-3000.
RECORD POCKETBOOK PINCH: Prices consumers pay in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale region soared to a record increase in October, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Consumer Price Index, a compilation of typical consumer expenditures, rose at a 5.1% annual rate in October, the biggest percentage increase going back to at least January 1997, when the bureau began keeping this statistic. Just two months earlier, the rate of annual increase had been only 3.7%.
HOME SALES PLUNGE GOES ON: Re-sales of both single-family homes and condos in Miami-Dade continued their slide in the third quarter of the year, with decline rates far greater than the state as a whole, the Florida Association of Realtors reported. Existing home sales by real estate agents fell 42% in Miami-Dade, versus the 29% decline statewide. Condominium re-sales by realtors fell 43% in Miami-Dade versus 26% statewide. The Fort Lauderdale area did relatively better, with a drop 31% in used home sales and 26% drop in used condo sales.
FAINT RAY OF LIGHT: As fewer Miami homes and condos were re-sold in the third quarter, average sales prices actually rose. The median home re-sale rose 1% — the only rise in any area of Florida — to hit $380,400. Condo re-sale prices rose 5%, to $272,000. In Fort Lauderdale, the single-family home price median slipped 2% to $364,400 while the condo median fell to $181,300. Statewide, medians fell 6% for homes, 4% for condos.
LESS TRANSPARENCY: An effort to require Mayor Carlos Alvarez to report to quarterly on public-private deals has been watered down by county commission sponsor Carlos Gimenez. The Budget and Finance Committee forwarded the proposal to the Dec. 4 commission meeting but stripped out requirements that the report name every project's partner and principals, show how the partner was selected, list costs with value to the county and the private party's contribution, show the source of county funding, analyze risks, list needed state or federal approvals, pinpoint the project's commission district, state how the project fits into the county's strategic objectives, note difficulties, list who's in charge of the project in the county and recommend whether to continue the project. Substituted for all of that: "general information about projects that does not jeopardize the negotiating position of the county."
TERMINAL TAKES OFF: Miami International Airport is to celebrate the grand opening of its 1.7-million-square-foot South Terminal at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 30. The South Terminal, which is to house 19 airlines and 61 food, retail and duty-free stores, has a US Customs area that airport officials say can process 2,000 passengers per hour, and it includes a new bus station for cruise and tour passengers. The terminal's Concourse J welcomed its first flight on Sept. 24. Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau President & CEO William Talbert III will serve as master of ceremonies.
CORRECTION: A photo caption in last week's issue should have said Ken Hendel was photographed at Gallery Art.