Miami Today http://www.miamitodaynews.com The Newspaper for the Future of Miami Thu, 31 Dec 2015 16:13:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.8 County flyspecks lease for big film studio http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/county-flyspecks-lease-big-film-studio/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/county-flyspecks-lease-big-film-studio/#comments Wed, 30 Dec 2015 03:15:59 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=31844 “There’s no news, which is probably good news,” on negotiations for a mammoth studio complex comprising 11 sound stages and 4 million cubic feet of water in 10 giant tanks, said Rodolfo Paiz, a principal of Miami Ocean Studios LLC. His company is in lease negotiations for 160 acres of county-owned land at 20000 NW […]

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“There’s no news, which is probably good news,” on negotiations for a mammoth studio complex comprising 11 sound stages and 4 million cubic feet of water in 10 giant tanks, said Rodolfo Paiz, a principal of Miami Ocean Studios LLC. His company is in lease negotiations for 160 acres of county-owned land at 20000 NW 47th Ave. The project was launched nearly a year ago.

“As a private citizen, I’m very happy with how the county has handled its due diligence,” he added. “The county’s representatives are being very thorough, and both sides are trying to create a deal that is sound, healthy, and will hold up to any kind of scrutiny. It’s taking time, but that’s because everyone is doing his job.

“We have moved beyond the conceptual stage into the language of the actual lease,” he said in August, and that’s still the case. “This is a very large piece of land, so the county, understandably, is moving cautiously. In general, things are going well,” he said then.

Once the lease is signed, he said, his company will begin $30 million in infrastructure improvements, including roads and sewers. Some reimbursement, he said, might be available from general obligation bonds for economic development.

The parcel lies in an unincorporated area known as County Club of Miami, between the Palmetto Expressway and the Florida Turnpike, near the Miami-Dade/Broward county line and north of Opa-locka Executive Airport. The state transportation department has plans to widen Northwest 47th Avenue next year, which is a key advantage of the site.

Once the infrastructure is in, construction will commerce and will take roughly two years, Mr. Paiz said when the deal was announced in January 2015. The sound stages, the largest of which is 24,000 square feet, will have ceiling heights of 33 to 45 feet to accommodate lighting and electrical needs. The studios also have to be able to withstand a category 5 hurricane, he added at that time.

“If you figure the kind of structure that is that big, with no column in the middle, that’s a huge block of clear space,” he said. “All of this stuff needs to be well-engineered. Fortunately, the process of knowing how to do it is already out there.”

Water features are to include a canal that is 100 feet wide and 3,000 feet long, one water tank that is 300 by 200 feet square, and one that is 30 feet deep, he said.

“One of things Miami has going for it is water, but it can be inconvenient and unsafe to shoot in open water, so we’ve designed these tanks,” Mr. Paiz has said. “This is a complete package; it will have few competitors worldwide.”

Mr. Paiz, a third-generation member of a Guatemalan family that has historically specialized in retail, has said his company ran a number of scenarios before committing to the studio project. He has estimated that the project will add about 3,100 direct jobs during construction and 2,700 high-paying positions for film crews and others who work in the complex once it is open. A hotel is also planned for the property, he added, to probably be run by a concessionaire.

When the project was announced, Mr. Paiz said he hopes Miami Ocean Studios will also become a business accelerator.

“In a place like Miami, you always have start-ups,” he said earlier this year. “We will be looking for people who are doing cool things that are applicable to recording, and might take a portion of equity in their companies. We hope folks who are trying new things and looking for resources will find us.”

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Questions fly on new I-395 bridge http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/questions-fly-new-395-bridge/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/questions-fly-new-395-bridge/#comments Wed, 30 Dec 2015 03:10:46 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=31846 Design-build contracts for a long-awaited “signature bridge,” part of an upgrade of I-395 from west of I-95 to the MacArthur Causeway, will be advertised next year. But Metropolitan Planning Organization members are already discussing specific challenges, as well as whether the project should be sidetracked. The reconstuction, which aims to improve traffic flow from Miami […]

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Design-build contracts for a long-awaited “signature bridge,” part of an upgrade of I-395 from west of I-95 to the MacArthur Causeway, will be advertised next year. But Metropolitan Planning Organization members are already discussing specific challenges, as well as whether the project should be sidetracked.

The reconstuction, which aims to improve traffic flow from Miami Beach to the mainland, including PortMiami, as well as to State Road 836 and I-95, was the focus of discussions Dec. 17. The signature bridge over Biscayne Boulevard has been on the wish list of downtown organizations for years to create an iconic entrance to the city’s core.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has secured the estimated $600 million needed for reconstruction, which is slated to begin in January 2017 and last about five years, said Raul Quintela, transportation department project manager, in August.

The project will dramatically increase both vertical and horizontal clearances to create a sense of space and light, Beth F. Steimle, P.E., project manager for TYLIN, a consultant for the state transportation agency, told the planning organization.

To improve aesthetics appropriately, the agency divided the area under the bridge and roadway into three zones: Zone 1, between Northwest First through Third avenues in Overtown, is to have a more residential feel, with open, landscaped spaces. Zone 2, from the FEC railway tracks to North Miami Avenue, “will have a more industrial feeling, with parking areas,” and Zone 3, near the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, will “have a downtown urban downtown feel,” she said, with landscaping, open spaces with wide walkways for pedestrians and cyclists, aesthetic lighting and some parking.

Also in Overtown, the transportation department will re-open Northwest Second Avenue to north-south movement, she added.

The centerpiece of the signature bridge is to be a 550-foot suspended span with its apex 245 feet above ground. Because of the type of support pillars to be used, the design reduces the number of columns in the area from about 800 to 80, Ms. Steimle said.

“The signature bridge over Biscayne Boulevard will be impactful,” she predicted. When the current pillars are removed, “there will be a lot more light coming in. Right now, it’s dark.”

“Zone 1 and Zone 2, great,” said Maurice Ferre, former Miami mayor and planning organization member. “But when it comes to the bay, which we all love, it becomes a wall. It does not have to be a wall. I have, for the past two years, been requesting that there be an opening so that people can go from the old Miami Herald building to the museums. Not that it be open; I know that’s tremendously expensive. But I want a walkway to be built, because now, it’s a wall right to the water. At the right time, I want to protest that here.”

“I want to join the mayor in that,” said Francis Suarez, Miami commissioner and planning organization vice chair. He had earlier suggested to the organization’s Transit Solutions Committee that the project be delayed and the funds be used instead for mass transit.

“I launched an idea, but I don’t know if it’s going to go anywhere,” Mr. Suarez said. “I’d still like to explore it. But I agree that if we do this, there should be connectivity between the northern and the southern portions of the baywalk. We only get one chance at these things. It’s a small modification with high benefit – a low-cost, high-reward sort of solution.”

“These are things I’m sure the consultants and professionals are considering,” said Jean Monestime, Miami-Dade commissioner and chair of both the planning organization and of the county commission.

“We’re very supportive of the aesthetic, but who’s going to maintain it?”asked Dennis Moss, Miami-Dade commissioner, planning organization member and chair of its Transit Solutions Committee.

“Our plan is to maintain the area, both the bridge and underneath it,” said Gus Pego, secretary of the transportation department’s District 6. “The concept is one that is easier to maintain and keep at the aesthetic level we all desire in our community. We have focused so much time and attention to develop a gateway, an iconic structure.”

Underneath the spans, the design features landscaping and meeting places “for pedestrians and the people who are making downtown livable again,” Mr. Pego said. “It will be maintained to a higher level.”

“You’ve always been a great friend to this community, but I’m asking this question because I can look at where MDX maintain its corridors and where FDOT maintains its, and there’s a big difference,” Mr. Moss said. “Part of it is that you are restrained, to some degree, in what you can put into maintenance and upkeep. So it’s not a lack of desire on your part. I just want to make sure these beautiful structures are built and maintained, because now the area is unacceptable. It’s an embarrassment.”

The blocks adjacent to the bridge are the gateway to the Adrienne Arsht Center, Museum Park and the AmericanAirlines Arena, as well as to downtown, he said.

“Hopefully it will get built, Mr. vice chair,” he said to Mr. Suarez. “I want this to be a first-class, well-maintained public space. I don’t want to do the same old stuff we do around here.”

Mr. Monestime agreed to continue the discussion at an upcoming meeting of the governing board.

“The problem is, this contract is about to be let in the next couple of months,” Mr. Ferre said.

But “we have not advertised this project, it is scheduled to be advertised next year,” said Ivette Ruiz-Paz, transportation department spokesperson. Generally, it then takes several months after that to award the contract.

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Brickell condo development may slow http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/brickell-condo-development-may-slow/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/brickell-condo-development-may-slow/#comments Wed, 30 Dec 2015 03:05:49 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=31840 Riding a five-year trend of high absorption levels, developers planned another robust year of new construction in Brickell’s hot condo market. But early signs suggest 2016 might be different. The market took delivery of well over 1,000 units in 2015, and about three times that many sit on the drawing board for the next two […]

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Riding a five-year trend of high absorption levels, developers planned another robust year of new construction in Brickell’s hot condo market. But early signs suggest 2016 might be different.

The market took delivery of well over 1,000 units in 2015, and about three times that many sit on the drawing board for the next two years, according to ISG World’s Market Report for Fall 2015, a comprehensive overview from International Sales Group, known as ISG.

While seasoned realtors say they are bullish about the potential for absorption, some predict that prices will probably go through a period of adjustment as inventory rises. But some say that prices could remain flat as the flow of inventory slows in response to changes in South America’s political landscape.

According to the 2015 Owner’s Guide to Brickell & Downtown Real Estate recently released by the David Siddons Group at EWM Realty International’s Brickell office, new preconstruction projects raised Brickell’s condo inventory by 36% in 2015.

That resulted in a 14- to 22- month increase in supply, the report states. A nine-month supply is considered a balanced market. Nevertheless, research showed property prices increased in 2015 by an average of 2% to 8%. At the same time, rental prices climbed 6%.

In such an unbalanced market, EWM’s David Siddons said, continued price escalation is not in the cards.

“About 80% of Brickell condos are rentals,” he said. “In an average year there might be 1,000 rentals available. If you’re going to inject three times that into the market, the population would need to triple – and that doesn’t happen. So investors will either have to drop the rent or put the unit on the market. Corrections in sales prices will come as a direct result of the rental market investing down.”

Mr. Siddons estimates the market will absorb the inventory in about three years. The coming year, however, might look somewhat different from earlier projections.

ISG principal Craig Studnicky said that while prices aren’t likely to rise, he doesn’t see them dropping much either. ISG World reports that of the 5,513 new units available for sale since mid-2011, 4,676 have sold. That’s an average absorption of 625 units a year over the past five years.

And although more than 2,300 units in eight projects are slated for delivery in the first quarter of 2016, “don’t expect them all to come online so fast,” Mr. Studnicky said.

Several multi-project developers, he said, will be slower to come to market “for one reason and one reason only: the stronger US dollar has slowed down sales velocity from South America.”

Miami condo developers depend heavily on South American buyers, Mr. Studnicky said, and “those sales are probably 75% off of what they were a year ago. Every single developer is watching sales, because when you are in the pre-sale business you need to demonstrate rapid sales quickly to create a sales buzz.”

Though the North American market is as strong as ever, he said that without the South American buyers that buzz isn’t happening at this moment. “So most projects announced for the first quarter of 2016 will likely be pushed back to the third or fourth quarter.”

Several projects touted as planned or proposed a year ago – 1201 Brickell Bay Drive, Residences at Brickell Key, Habitat III and Brickell Flatiron II – seem to have disappeared from the dialogue, at least for now. Edge on Brickell has been cancelled, Mr. Studnicky said, though 1201 Brickell might resurface early next year.

The slowdown, he said, is not a cause for alarm. In this cycle, developers have followed the conservative South American model for pre-sales, requiring a down payment of about 50% from buyers before closing.

“Since that’s in US dollars,” Mr. Studnicky said, “it’s very hard to get them to pay that right now.”

On the other hand, existing buyers are unlikely to walk away from such a large investment. And with fewer projects to go around, he said, “construction costs are likely to come down by 10% to 15%. So it may actually benefit developers.”

Political trends in South America may help close the gap between the dollar and other currencies, Mr. Studnicky said. Venezuela just elected a centrist legislature, and the nation’s socialist president could be stymied by them. Argentina, in its first popular ballot, just elected the country’s first non-Peronist president in many years, while Brazil’s president is under attack from opposition parties seeking her impeachment.

“There’s a shift in South America away from socialism toward centrism,” Mr. Studnicky said, “and that may in the next six to nine months start to mitigate the effect of the strong dollar.”

The attraction of Miami for South Americans, he said, remains as strong as ever.

“Tracked against other asset classes, there is safety in real estate,” Mr. Siddons said. “Miami is a very safe place, not just financially but socially. People of many different backgrounds can feel at home here. So I feel very good about the future of the city.”

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High-profile site may add riverwalk http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/high-profile-site-may-add-riverwalk/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/high-profile-site-may-add-riverwalk/#comments Wed, 30 Dec 2015 03:01:25 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=31838 A high-profile site near the mouth of the Miami River downtown may finally be opened to the public as part of an extended riverwalk. The additional riverwalk would be temporary, for perhaps one year, while the property’s new owner lines up permits and other approvals needed to build a luxury residential condo building.  Once construction […]

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A high-profile site near the mouth of the Miami River downtown may finally be opened to the public as part of an extended riverwalk.

The additional riverwalk would be temporary, for perhaps one year, while the property’s new owner lines up permits and other approvals needed to build a luxury residential condo building.  Once construction begins, the site would be closed off again for safety and liability reasons.

The owner-developer, from Argentina, would have to include a complete and permanent riverwalk along the water’s edge as required by the city code.

An application for a temporary riverwalk, and a second and final extension of time for an existing temporary sales center, were considered recently by the Urban Infill and Greenways Subcommittee of the Miami River Commission.

The commission says the so-called temporary building on the east end of the property is the former sales center for EPIC Residences & Hotel, a luxury high-rise condominium development built next door on the site of the former Dupont Plaza.

The city’s improved riverwalk, which extends from the shore of Biscayne Bay and Bayfront Park around the corner and westward along the north bank of the river, ends abruptly at the old sales center building.

The City of Miami found the three-story nautical themed structure in violation of the city charter and zoning code waterfront development setback requirements years ago and ordered that the building be demolished, according to river commission officials. This occurred under a different owner.

The parcel changed hands last summer, when Riverwalk East Developments LLC bought the 1.25-acre site for $125 million, a record for a property of that size in South Florida, according to broker CBRE.

CBRE began marketing the property in April 2014, and in a press release called the parcel downtown Miami’s “last vacant waterfront site.” The sale was announced in July.

Committee Chairman Ernie Martin said the river commission had an “ambivalent relationship” with the previous property owner, who did not remove the temporary building when ordered.

The continued existence of the structure “blocks the continuity” of the city’s growing and beautiful riverwalk, said Dr. Martin.

In the years since the first portion of the riverwalk was built, downtown’s population has soared, he said. The river commission continues to push for extension of the riverwalk to keep public access to the river guaranteed and protected, according to Dr. Martin.

The overall goal of the riverwalk is to extend a public pathway from Biscayne Bay west and northwestward to an area near Miami International Airport, on both sides of the river.

“We’re about halfway there but we have significant gaps,” Dr. Martin said.

One of the most notable is on this site, at 250-300 Biscayne Boulevard Way, he said.

Iris Escarra, an attorney representing the new owner-developer, said Riverwalk East Developments intends to have a temporary riverwalk installed on the site until it gets the master permit to build the condo tower.

“It’s a temporary solution,” she said. Once construction begins, the site would be closed off again to the public until the project is completed.

Ms. Escarra estimated that much of 2016 would be taken up by planning, design and the process of obtaining all of the permits and permissions needed for development. Full construction might not begin until 2017. Because owners still want to use the building as a sales center for the new project, they want to keep it until the west-to-east construction work forces its removal. She anticipated the building would be removed between June and December 2018.

Horacio Stuart Aguirre, river commission chair, had suggested a request for extending the life of the temporary structure by just one more year, conditioned on a specific date when it would be removed and that money for demolition be held in escrow.

Ms. Escarra said she would discuss those items with the developer.

“We need to define what temporary is,” said Dr. Martin.

As for the extended riverwalk, Dr. Martin said, “We need a schedule. When will it be opened? When will it be closed? When will it be reopened? …the best guesstimate.”

Dr. Martin was pleased to see movement that will eventually open the riverbank to an extended public riverwalk.

“This is a welcomed, long-awaited occurrence,” he said.

The application for a temporary riverwalk, and a second and final extension of time for the old sales center, is to come before the full river commission in 2016.

Ms. Escarra said the new owner-developer is excited about building the real riverwalk as part of the final build-out of the site.

Dr. Martin noted the high price the developer was willing to pay for the property.

“They are believers in the mouth of the river,” Ms. Escarra said.

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Classified Ads http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/classified-ads-192/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/classified-ads-192/#comments Wed, 30 Dec 2015 03:00:57 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=31808 COACHING New Year – New You Find the courage to live a life true to yourself – not the life others expect of you FREE CONSULTATION 786-475-7766 L Houston, Certified Professional Life Coach   CORPORATE OPERATIONS MANAGER Corporate Operations Manager for hotel management company located in Miami, FL.  4 yrs. Exp. In job offered or […]

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COACHING

New Year – New You Find the courage to live a life true to yourself – not the life others expect of you FREE CONSULTATION 786-475-7766 L Houston, Certified Professional Life Coach

 

CORPORATE OPERATIONS MANAGER

Corporate Operations Manager for hotel management company located in Miami, FL.  4 yrs. Exp. In job offered or related field.  Send resume to: River Park Hotel & Suites, Inc., 555 NE 15th Street, Suite 100, Miami, FL 33132.

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Filming in Miami: December 31, 2015 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/filming-in-miami-december-31-2015/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/filming-in-miami-december-31-2015/#comments Wed, 30 Dec 2015 03:00:39 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=31800 These film permits were issued last week by the Miami-Dade County Department of Regulatory & Economic Resources’ Office of Film and Entertainment, (305) 375-3288; the Miami Mayor’s Office of Film, Arts & Entertainment, (305) 860-3823; and the Miami Beach Office of Arts, Culture and Entertainment-Film and Print Division, (305) 673-7070.  Matador Content LLC. Los Angeles. […]

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These film permits were issued last week by the Miami-Dade County Department of Regulatory & Economic Resources’ Office of Film and Entertainment, (305) 375-3288; the Miami Mayor’s Office of Film, Arts & Entertainment, (305) 860-3823; and the Miami Beach Office of Arts, Culture and Entertainment-Film and Print Division, (305) 673-7070. 

Matador Content LLC. Los Angeles. Real Women of Telenovelas. Miami Beach citywide, Unincorporated Miami-Dade County.

Matador Content LLC. Los Angeles. The Plug (pilot). Countywide.

Raw TV. London. Someone Like Me. Florida City, Tamiami Park.

Joy Collective Ltd. Brooklyn. B-Roll. Countywide, Miami Beach citywide.

Miami News Net Inc. Miami. DCF Recruitment Project. Miami-Dade County Children’s Courthouse.

Minty Fresh Digital. San Francisco. CEO. Miami Beach citywide.

Joseph Ponthieux. Leesville. Portfolio Photo Shoot. Crandon Park Beach.

N House Productions. Miami. Carters. Countywide.

Select Services Inc. Miami. Geox. Miami Beach citywide.

Miami Daylight Studios. Miami Beach. Aspex. Hobie Beach.

First Option Productions Inc. Miami Beach. Winners Canada. Countywide, Miami Beach citywide.

PR Design Co. Inc. New York. Parke & Ronen. Countywide.

Sunrise Production Rentals LLC. Miami Beach. Italian Magazine. Countywide, Miami Beach citywide.

American Structural Corporate. Hialeah. Untitled. Miami-Dade County Children Courthouse.

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Marilyn Holyfield: Corporate attorney advocates also for education, arts http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/marilyn-holyfield-corporate-attorney-advocates-also-education-arts/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/marilyn-holyfield-corporate-attorney-advocates-also-education-arts/#comments Wed, 30 Dec 2015 03:00:12 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=31822 When Marilyn Holifield was growing up, she thought she was going to be a pianist, a poet or a writer. During her senior year of college, one of her older brothers suggested that she at least consider law school and urged her to apply to Harvard Law School. She did, was accepted and survived her […]

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When Marilyn Holifield was growing up, she thought she was going to be a pianist, a poet or a writer.

During her senior year of college, one of her older brothers suggested that she at least consider law school and urged her to apply to Harvard Law School. She did, was accepted and survived her first semester. After all that work, she told herself it was too late to turn back.

Today, Ms. Holifield is a partner at Holland & Knight, where she has been working since 1981 as a litigator with a special emphasis on representing corporate clients. Her practice includes employment, business litigation, corporate governance, trade secrets, class action and intellectual property litigation.

Her list of awards and affiliations is long and impressive, including the National Bar Association’s Gertrude E. Rush Award in 2012, which she believes she received as an acknowledgement for being the first black female partner at a major law firm in Florida and over the years making contributions to the legal profession as well as to the community.

Ms. Holifield loves her work and involvement in the community through roles such as co-chair of the Pérez Art Museum Miami ambassadors for African art and a trustee of University of Miami as well as her alma mater, Swarthmore College.

She said she brings all of these into play because she’s an advocate for education at all levels and tries to promote access to it through the arts and as well as through public service. In return for her civic involvement, Ms. Holifield said she benefits, becoming inspired by the students who matriculate at these universities. These students are our future, she said, and looking at what many of them will become reinforces her optimism.

Miami Today reporter Susan Danseyar interviewed Ms. Holifield at Holland & Knight.

To read the full article and the rest of the Miami Today issue, subscribe to e-MIAMI TODAY, an exact replica of the printed edition.

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Fair can be forced out only at high cost, so keep talks going http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/fair-can-be-forced-out-only-at-high-cost-so-keep-talks-going/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/fair-can-be-forced-out-only-at-high-cost-so-keep-talks-going/#comments Wed, 30 Dec 2015 03:00:05 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=31798 County Commissioner Juan Zapata’s campaign to force the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition off county land and out of his district seems inexplicable for many reasons. As we reported last week, Mr. Zapata wrote a snarky letter to Mayor Carlos Gimenez lambasting him for not moving faster to force the Youth Fair to move to […]

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County Commissioner Juan Zapata’s campaign to force the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition off county land and out of his district seems inexplicable for many reasons.

As we reported last week, Mr. Zapata wrote a snarky letter to Mayor Carlos Gimenez lambasting him for not moving faster to force the Youth Fair to move to Homestead to make way for expansion of Mr. Zapata’s alma mater, Florida International University.

Good people disagree on the issue of growth of FIU and whether larger is necessarily better. Good people also disagree on whether, if our public university does expand, it should come at the expense of our not-for-profit Youth Fair.

Disagreement can be healthy in resolving issues to the public’s benefit.

In the case of Mr. Zapata, however, it’s hard to understand how an intelligent, informed commissioner can take careful aim and then fire at his own feet.

First, if he wants Mayor Gimenez to accept his views, it’s intemperate to write for public consumption that “the fair’s delay tactics and your lack of strong leadership on this issue are no longer acceptable to me as the county commissioner of the area.” Where is his sense of tone?

And would someone seeking the mayor’s aid write that “your administration continues to support the creation of low paying jobs while squandering incredible opportunities to create numerous high paying jobs that would result from FIU’s expansion”?

Such language can only add frictions, not gain allies. It sounds more like a volley in the 2016 mayoral election than an effort to solve a community conundrum.

Then there’s the question of how a commissioner could write of his district landmark that “the fair is not vital to the long-term wellbeing of our community.”

Mr. Zapata ought to prize assets like the fair – not to mention the 653,281 people who attended this year or its $13.6 million operating income. What other commissioner would reject the fair as a district prize? But Mr. Zapata wants to force an immediate move to Homestead.

The commissioner is also far too smart to really believe as he wrote that an expansion of the university onto the 85-acre fairgrounds was “dictated by the voters.”

A 2014 election for which FIU used a dozen lobbyists did legalize university use of part of the fairgrounds, which the county charter then barred. But for voters to make something legal is very different than to dictate it. Some roads permit us to drive 55 miles per hour, but they don’t dictate 55. Mr. Zapata knows there’s no mandate, and he knows that the mayor knows it too.

Mr. Zapata chides Mayor Gimenez for working with the Youth Fair to find a way for both the fair and FIU to use current fairgrounds. He must know that county and fair representatives have been meeting for months to resolve space needs.

So when Mr. Zapata writes urging the mayor “to strongly oppose any such idea” because Homestead should become the fair’s home, he aims to undercut an accord in favor of an ouster.

Mr. Zapata surely knows that a study the county, the university and the Youth Fair funded jointly in 2013 and a new study this year both found that the fair would lose more than half its attendance, more than half its operating revenues and most major exhibitors in Homestead and plunge from $2.7 million profit to $300,000 to $800,000 annual losses.

As a commissioner, Mr. Zapata must represent the financial interests of the county. He surely knows that the fair’s land lease beside FIU runs through 2040 with extensions until 2085. Under the lease, the fair must get three-year notice of a move if the county wants one, and then it must get a site equal to or better than its current one. The county is on the hook for such costs by law.

Mr. Zapata says the fair has turned down proposed sites, including Homestead, “despite their absolute viability.”

If viability means losing more than half its attendance and most big exhibitors and plunging from profit to a loss every year he’s right. But its lease says it’s the fair – not the county or FIU or Mr. Zapata – that gets to decide if a site is viable. Had the fair’s board accepted a Homestead financial death knell as viable it wouldn’t have done its job. It didn’t accept. Would you?

We believe the mayor is acting in the public interest in trying to accommodate both sides. We’re certain that he’s acting in the county’s interest in not forcing out the fair, because someone would have to pay for new land, buildings and the move.

The current lease that county commissioners approved says the fair wouldn’t have to pay if the county forced a move. The university doesn’t want to pay to replicate what the fair has.

That leaves the county to pay – except that last year’s referendum dictated that it cannot. So unless the university suddenly finds several hundred million dollars, an agreement must be brokered or the fair will stay put until 2085.

If Mr. Zapata requires immediate action, he should be telling FIU to look elsewhere to add facilities or else give up on trying to grow to 68,000 students this decade. We wonder if he has tried those routes yet.

If he doesn’t want to tell FIU rather than the fair to look elsewhere or shrink aspirations, his best bet is to stop roiling the waters and let the mayor’s office keep working to get everyone onboard with a site-sharing plan.

And remember, a plan can only work if the fair says yes too.

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FYI Miami: December 31, 2015 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/fyi-miami-december-31-2015/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/fyi-miami-december-31-2015/#comments Wed, 30 Dec 2015 03:00:01 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=31825 Below are some of the FYIs in this week’s edition. The entire content of this week’s FYIs and Insider sections is available by subscription only. To subscribe click here. COAST TO COAST: Either Californians think Miami would be a great new place to live or they’re checking out the competition: in October, Californians made more real […]

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Below are some of the FYIs in this week’s edition. The entire content of this week’s FYIs and Insider sections is available by subscription only. To subscribe click here.

COAST TO COAST: Either Californians think Miami would be a great new place to live or they’re checking out the competition: in October, Californians made more real estate searches on the Miami Association of Realtors’ website than persons from any other state, the association says. They’re followed, in order, by home searchers from Texas, New York, Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio and Michigan. A year earlier the leaders in Miami home searchers were New Yorkers, followed by Californians and Texans.

WE’RE TOPS FOR SPAIN: While South Florida appears on the list of the top-five US real estate targets for 12 of the 20 nations that most searched for US realty buys in October, surprisingly Miami or Miami Beach was the top choice in hunts for only one nation: Spain. Miami was second for Brazil and Israel, and Miami Beach was second for searchers from Italy, according to the Miami Association of Realtors.

ALL TOLLED, A GOOD YEAR: Miami-Dade Expressway Authority saw its debt rating raised by Fitch Ratings, raised from A- to A while the outlook remained stable, because performance was sharply ahead of expectation over the prior year with a doubling of both tolling locations and effect toll rates on its five roadways, Fitch reported in a review of US toll road operations. Fitch took only four positive rating actions on toll facilities during the year.

KEY FINANCIAL ROLE: Richard Lampen, president and CEO of Miami-based Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services, has been named vice chair of the Financial Services Institute’s board of directors for 2016, rising to chair in 2017. The institute is an advocacy organization of independent broker-dealers and financial advisors.

GAS PRICES FALLING: Miami’s average gasoline prices were $2.13 cents a gallon as of Sunday, above most gas prices elsewhere but down significantly from the recent past, GasBuddy price-tracking service reported. Both GasBuddy and AAA said the national average was a flat $2 per gallon. Nearby, Sarasota averaged $1.96, Naples $2.07 and Cape Coral $1.98. “Gasoline could get even cheaper in the coming weeks, as some of the lowest prices of the year typically arrive in January,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. Miami gas prices are now 34.9 cents a gallon less than a year ago and 6.6 cents less than a month ago, GasBuddy said.

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Wynwood to fund workforce housing http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/wynwood-fund-workforce-housing/ http://www.miamitodaynews.com/2015/12/29/wynwood-fund-workforce-housing/#comments Wed, 30 Dec 2015 02:52:46 +0000 http://www.miamitodaynews.com/?p=31842 Of all the legislative changes made this year designed to encourage the continued evolution of the Wynwood Arts District, one item remained in limbo for months. After fine-tuning and tweaking and re-tweaking, Miami city commissioners in December finally adopted an ordinance creating a new public benefits trust fund devoted entirely to the booming neighborhood north […]

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Of all the legislative changes made this year designed to encourage the continued evolution of the Wynwood Arts District, one item remained in limbo for months.

After fine-tuning and tweaking and re-tweaking, Miami city commissioners in December finally adopted an ordinance creating a new public benefits trust fund devoted entirely to the booming neighborhood north of Northwest 20th Street.

What is the most significant outcome of the delay? The final version will require annual allocation of at least 35% of the money in the trust toward affordable and workforce housing.

Much of Wynwood is in District Five, represented by Commissioner Keon Hardemon, and he fought for the changes – particularly setting aside a larger share of the new fund for affordable housing in a city that has little.

In July, commissioners approved the start of a process to expand the boundaries of the Wynwood Business Improvement District, or BID, and gave preliminary approval to a handful of ordinances to provide new tools to the booming area east of I-95, including land use and zoning changes.

And the commission approved on first reading the Wynwood Neighborhood Revitalization District Plan.

The first of its kind in the city, the plan’s new zoning regulations for Wynwood are designed to encourage new, mixed-use residential and office developments, create dedicated funding for neighborhood improvements, promote pedestrian-focused activated streets and preserve the area’s unique artistic and industrial character.

Commissioned by the Wynwood BID, the plan was developed by planning firm PlusUrbia in conjunction with the improvement district and the City of Miami’s Planning Department. Supporters have referred to the plan as Wynwood 2.0.

Final approvals came from commissioners in September, with a few modifications. However, the proposal to create a public benefits trust fund and a body to oversee the funds was deferred at the urging of Mr. Hardemon.

City planners were directed to rewrite the enabling legislation.

At the December meeting, Mr. Hardemon said he still wasn’t satisfied with the wording. The item was again deferred to later in the day for final modifications.

Planning Director Francisco Garcia later said that staffers sat down with stakeholders to author a “better” ordinance.

Commission chairman Wifredo “Willy” Gort spoke in favor of offering incentives to developers that will lead to more affordable housing.

“It can be done. We need to start mixing housing,” said Mr. Gort.

“As Wynwood is growing, it should have a mix,” Commissioner Francis Suarez said.

Along with increasing the percentage of money earmarked for affordable housing, the final version of the ordinance built in more city commission oversight and control of the fund.

Mr. Hardemon said the final version was “more palatable.” The ordinance was adopted unanimously.

Steve Wernick, representing the business improvement district, told commissioners this involves a brand new revenue stream that will be spent to make public improvements. He said improvement district members have “a strong commitment to invest in the public realm.”

The legislative changes in large part are designed to encourage further transformation of Wynwood from a non-descript manufacturing and warehouse area into a colorful and thriving neighborhood of galleries, shops, restaurants and pubs while nurturing a street art scene that has gained international attention.

The overall redevelopment plan promotes inclusion of murals and glass on new buildings, creates financial incentives for low-rise buildings, and reduces allowable heights for most new buildings to eight stories. It also encourages pedestrian walkways and open spaces, green roofs, parks and increased shade.

Instead of calling the new plan the “Wynwood Neighborhood Revitalization District Plan,” commissioners followed Mr. Hardemon’s recommendation to change the name to Neighborhood Revitalization District-1 or NRD-1.

The moniker is referred to in the final ordinance creating the public benefits trust fund.

The legislation notes that “unique conditions exist within the boundaries of the NRD-1 including a lack of parks, open space and civic space and a lack of public land that is available to be developed or dedicated by the city for such purposes … and the city seeks to encourage reinvestment in infrastructure and seeks other creative solutions to create parks, open space, civic space, and civil support uses to allow for and facilitate new residential uses within the NRD-1 boundaries.”

It’s intended that the public benefits trust fund be established “in order to collect the cash contributions made according to the Miami 21 Code … to supplement affordable/workforce housing, public parks and open space, and green building certification shortfalls,” the legislation says.

The Wynwood Business Improvement District, through a five-member committee, will allocate money in the fund within the NRD-1 boundaries.

The committee will be made up of one member directly appointed by the commissioner from District Five, one member appointed by the commissioner from District Two, one member appointed by the full city commission, and two members appointed by the improvement district’s board and submitted to the city commission for confirmation.

The committee must report to the commission annually, and the trust fund is to be reviewed by the commission every three years.

The business improvement district formed in 2013 as a city municipal board. Its directors are drawn from the hundreds of property owners throughout the 50-block community. The improvement district works to enhance security and sanitation services, raise awareness of advancements and plan for the future of Wynwood.

A planning staff report on the revitalization district says: “Wynwood is transitioning into a globally-recognized destination for art, fashion, innovation, and creative enterprise. It is vital that the Wynwood Arts District accommodate new uses and development while creating new public and private open space opportunities for its existing and future residents.”

The revitalization district is to establish protective regulations to guide the transition from an industrial district into a diverse, mixed-use area to include industrial, retail and residential components, the report says.

“The neighborhood revitalization district regulations will also preserve the unique street art and industrial characteristics of the current Wynwood Arts District while promoting an environment where people work, live, and play,” it says.

Although many of the components of Wynwood 2.0 were approved, the boundaries ultimately did not expand.

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