THE PLANNING POT: Miami has $5.3 million invested in "master plans," according to an e-mail from City Manager Pete Hernandez to commissioners. His report comes after commissioners asked to be informed of ongoing planning efforts. The city is paying $600,000 for the Coconut Grove Waterfront Master Plan, $920,000 for the Virginia Key Master Plan, about $1.6 million for the Museum Park master plan and $2.2 million for Miami 21, its proposed zoning code and growth blueprint, pending commission approval of a $95,000 increase. Each costs more than originally approved.
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AIRPORT PASSENGERS UP: Foreign passengers at Miami International Airport increased 7.2% in January over January 2007, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. International passengers for the month totaled 736,089, the bureau said. The airport had a small increase, 0.1%, in domestic passengers, from January 2007. Domestic passengers totaled 753,977. Overall, passengers for January totaled 1,490,066, up 3.5% over January 2007.
MUSEUM MONEY: The City of Miami may increase its grant contribution toward building a new Miami Science Museum in Bicentennial Park from a planned $700,000 to $1.43 million in order to provide matching funds to a grant from the US Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory. Commissioners are to decide today (3/27).
BECKER TAKES REINS: Co-founder Alan Becker has taken over as managing shareholder of Becker & Poliakoff, the law firm announced Tuesday, with co-founder Gary Poliakoff moving aside from firm leadership but staying on board. The firm, founded in 1973 after the two graduated from the University of Miami Law School, now has 14 offices and more than 125 attorneys in the state.
NEW PORT ROOFS: The Miami-Dade County Commission voted 11-0 last week to approve a $3.2 million contract to replace hurricane-damaged roofs at Terminals B and C at the Port of Miami and re-roofing of the boarding hall. The prime contractor, Triple M. Roofing Corp. of Fort Lauderdale, is expected to start work by mid-May and take six months. Hurricane Wilma damaged the original 1980s roofs when it blew through on Oct. 24, 2005, and they're leaking. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to reimburse the port fully for the repairs, according to county documents.
ADVISOR ABREU: Miami International Airport Director Jose Abreu has been appointed by US Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez to serve on the US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. "This appointment recognizes our community's leadership in government policies and programs that affect the US travel and tourism industry," Mr. Abreu said in a statement. The 15-member board, made up of representatives of companies and organizations in the travel and tourism industry, is to develop and implement a national tourism strategy. Members serve at Mr. Gutierrez's pleasure or until the board's charter ends on Sept. 21, 2009.
AUTHORITY EXODUS: Following Miami Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Dana Nottingham and marketing head Cristina Raecke, Davon Barbour, the authority's economic development manager, has resigned, effective April 4. He will be "pursuing another career opportunity," he told board members in an e-mail. The board anticipated staffing changes after the director's departure and quickly instated interim staff to keep the authority on track: county administrator Alyce Robertson as interim director and city staffer Meredith Nation as her deputy.
PLAYHOUSE PLANS: The Coconut Grove Playhouse and University of Miami's Center for Urban and Community Design are to host a charrette March 28-30 to allow the community to weigh in on envisioning the future of the playhouse, which has been closed nearly two years. The public meetings are to be at Ransom Everglades School, 3575 Main Hwy. Having repaid a $125,000 debt to the state, the playhouse will be eligible for state funding once it reopens, Shelly Spivack, board chair, told Miami-Dade commissioners last month. Details: (305) 284-3439 or email@example.com.
DEMOLITION DELAY: 2801 Ponce de Leon Blvd. in Coral Gables won't be imploded March 29 as planned due to a scheduling conflict by demolition company Dykon Explosive Demolition. The building is to be razed to make way for Old Spanish Village, a mixed-use project planned for seven acres. The holdup shouldn't delay project construction, according to Ponce Circle Developers, which is to announce a new implosion date soon.
LIARS NEED NOT APPLY: If you want to work for the City of Miami, liars need not apply. Commissioners are to be asked today (3/27) to approve bids from contractors who are to provide pre-employment polygraph exams. The Employee Polygraph Protection Act prohibits most private employers from using lie detector tests but does not cover federal, state and local governments.
LIVE NATION COLLABORATION: A deal with Live Nation to manage the Bayfront Park Amphitheater in downtown Miami is still in the works. "The negotiations are going really well," said Tim Schmand, executive director of the Bayfront Park Management Trust, at a Monday meeting, but he said he needs more time to work with the company. Miami commissioners are to be asked today (3/27) to approve a 120-day extension to the original 90-day negotiation timeline. Live Nation runs Miami Beach's Fillmore at the Jackie Gleason Theater.
SECOND CHANCE: Empire World Towers, the skyscrapers proposed for 330 Biscayne Blvd., could win approval today (3/27). City commissioners last month deferred a vote on the twin 93-story towers, citing concerns that the way the project is designed, 1,557 new units could cause traffic jams and parking issues.
CHANGE AFOOT: The Biscayne Park II project planned for 2450 Biscayne Blvd. could see major changes at a Miami commission meeting today (3/27): a new, free-standing, structure up to 169 feet; 16,975 square feet of retail, up from a planned 6,843; 134,484 square feet of office space, up from 12,384, among other modifications. Kubik at Morningside, planned for 5600-5780 Biscayne Blvd., is to be proposed as two 14-story buildings with two design options: 293 residential units, 41,745 square feet of retail and restaurant space and 422 parking spaces; or 293 residential units, 33,046 square feet of retail and restaurant space and 362 parking spaces. The project was approved in 2004 and again in 2006. Circuit Court sent it back to the city for a new hearing after residents sued because of the size.
GROVE OFFICE SPACE: Offices may soon be allowed on the ground floor along certain pedestrian pathways in Coconut Grove should Miami commissioners agree today (3/27) to a zoning change in the Grove's central commercial district, though some could be required to maintain a "window/storefront appearance," according to the proposed ordinance.
UPPING THE PRICE: Murals violators are to be fined $1,000 a day — up from today's $250 — should Miami commissioners pass an amendment to the city's code enforcement measures. Commissioners agreed to the idea in spirit this month, OK'ing legislation providing for 35 permits for legal outdoor advertising murals along with steep permitting fees and the higher fines for non-permit holders. Miami-Dade County attorneys have questioned whether the state will allow a $1,000 fine, which the county also levies.
COUNTY WI-FI LAUNCH: Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez launched a free wireless service at Tamiami Park on Monday, with two others to be added in coming weeks, according to a statement from his office. The Tamiami Park Wi-Fi is sponsored by Motorola. Wireless security cameras have also been installed in the park and fairgrounds there. "Through our partnership with Motorola, county residents have access to free wireless service, but that's not all," Mr. Alvarez said. "Our community also now has an added layer of safety and protection." The wireless service is expected soon at Goulds Park and Amelia Earhart Park.
MS WORKPLACE: Monster.com and The National Multiple Sclerosis Society have launched MS Workplace, a national employment program to support the about 400,000 Americans and more than 5,000 South Florida residents living with the disease. The site is to provide career advice, workplace tips and job postings for the multiple sclerosis community and their employers.