Written by Miami Today on February 14, 2002
MANAGING RISK: The City of Miami dismissed Mario Soldevilla, head of Risk Management, one of the most controversial departments in the city for the past 15 years. Mr. Soldevilla had been in charge of the city’s group health insurance, workers’ compensation and general liability insurance for city-owned cars, properties and marinas. Commissioners a month ago asked the city manager to hire an outside firm to evaluate the department and recommend ways to make it run more effectively. As the city conducts a national search for a new administrator, R. Sue Weller, a labor relations officer, was named acting director of the department, City Manager Carlos Gimenez said.
RATING TRIP: Mr. Gimenez said Tuesday he will be traveling to New York Feb. 21 to meet with bond-rating agents, discuss the refinancing of city debt and get some cash upfront. He said he will be accompanied by Mayor Manny Diaz; Robert Nachlinger, assistant city manager overseeing city finances; Linda Haskins, budget director, and Scott Simpson, director of the finance department. Mayor Diaz hired Ms. Haskins as senior financial advisor – a newly created position. She leaves her current post Feb. 15 before the trip.
FINANCIAL ROLES: At her new post, Ms. Haskins is to develop fiscal polices for the mayor to bring before the city commission for approval. City Manager Gimenez said he was glad Ms. Haskins decided to remain with the city. He said having her close would smooth the transition period for a new budget director. He said the city is conducting a nationwide search to fill the position.
RAIL TIES: Early results of Bay Link, a Metropolitan Planning Organization-sponsored study analyzing the feasibility of a light rail system to link the cities of Miami and Miami Beach, will be presented at 8:30 a.m. Friday to the Downtown Development Authority’s board of directors. At 4 p.m. March 5 the study will be explained to the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce’s board of governors. Final results of the study are scheduled to be presented to the planning organization’s board for a vote in July.
BRICKELL BREAK: Developer Michael Baumann said his BCOM Inc. will break ground Friday for Brickell Bay Village, 1201 Brickell Ave. Mr. Baumann got the project approved in July after having to go back to the negotiating table several times with neighboring property owners who opposed the original design. The 34-story building will sit on 3.37 acres fronting Brickell Avenue and Biscayne Bay. Schedule to be completed by fall 2003, the project will have 360 rental units. The development, funded 100% by union pension funds, was designed by Bermello Ajamil & Partners Inc.
LUNCHEON TALK: The Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Miami-Dade County pays tribute to Black History Month at its next monthly luncheon with "Women of Color; Women in Power," at 11:30 a.m. in the Sheraton Biscayne Bay Hotel, 495 Brickell Ave. Scheduled panelists are Angela Gittens, director of aviation for Miami-Dade County; Denise M. Mills, vice president of community affairs with Turner Construction; Edith Humes-Newbold, executive director of South Florida Employment Training Consortium, and Joanne Simms, personnel director for the US Department of Justice in Washington. The event is sponsored by Planned Parenthood. Cost is $30: $25 for members. Details: (305) 446-6660.
JAPANESE EXCHANGE: Ko Kodaira, new consul-general of Japan in Miami, is presiding at a welcome-home reception for participants of the Japan Exchange & Teaching program and 2001 Fullbright Memorial Fund Teachers Program at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the Morikami Museum & Japanese Garden, Delray Beach. RSVP. Details: (305) 530-9090, ext. 142 or 145.
2002 TOBY: The Building Owners & Managers Association of Greater Miami is holding its Toby Awards 2002 ceremony to honor the city’s best managed buildings at 7-9 p.m. March 21 in the Wyndham Miami Beach Resort. Sponsorships are available from $500. Details: (305) 530-0083.
KOREAN TRADE: The Korea Trade Center in Miami is holding a trade and investment expo from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 28 in the Monte Carlo ballrooms of the Hotel Sofitel, 5800 Blue Lagoon Drive. Several firms based in Korea plan to showcase products. Details: (305) 374-4648.
TAXING MATTER: Assistance with income tax is offered from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through April 13 at Legal Services of Miami, 3000 Biscayne Blvd., as part of the UM law school’s HOPE volunteer income tax assistance program. Details: (305) 576-1228.
JAMAICA MEET: Air Jamaica is sponsoring a town hall meeting to discuss the impact of the US Patriot Act at 6 p.m. Feb. 18 in the Church of the First Born, 2290 NW 183rd St. Scheduled panelists include consuls general from Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Surinam and Trinidad & Tobago. Another meeting is planned on March 2. Details: Don Daley, 305-255-9990.
HOME SWEET HOME: After detailing for the Beacon Council board on Friday his efforts to keep neighboring counties from poaching each other’s businesses with incentives to make a move, Beacon President & CEO Frank Nero shifted to efforts by the county’s economic development arm to get a new office lease. "I asked Broward if we moved would they give us incentives," he quipped. "They said they would think about it." Broward needn’t think hard: the board unanimously approved a new lease in the present offices at 80 SW Eighth St. – pending investigation of one more offer in Miami-Dade County.
CANADA-FLORIDA TIES: Citing $1.5 billion in spending by Canadians in Florida in the year 2000, Canada’s ambassador to the US, Michael F. Kergin, told Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce trustees last week of a mutual concern to keep that spending flowing after last year’s terrorist attacks. He cited Canadian procedures to keep the border as open as possible to the movement of people and goods – with $1.5 billion worth of goods crossing it daily – despite tightened security, including a new border card for those who frequently go between nations. "Geography," he said, "puts the US right at the center of Canada’s foreign and economic policy."
BUILDING BRIDGES: How does Canada-US trade stack up? Ambassador Kergin said the flow of goods on the Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit and Ontario alone exceeds all merchandise trade between the US and Japan.
WELCOME TO GOOSE BAY: Sept. 11 terrorist attacks had a huge impact on isolated parts of Canada, Ambassador Kergin told the Greater Miami chamber, as 33,000 passengers on US-bound planes landed instead in Canada. Goose Bay, Newfoundland, for example, with just 9,000 residents, received 12,000 passengers in two to three hours. Residents, he said, opened their homes and hearths and kitchens to hungry visitors, with some humorous aspects. "Imagine if you’d arrived in Newfoundland and eaten cod tongues," or elsewhere got seal flipper. "We’re only sorry that one of the delicacies of the Maritimes, fiddleheads, was out of season."
PINNACLE SALE: A California company sold a 240-unit apartment complex for $4.9 million to Pinnacle Housing Group, according to Grubb & Ellis, which represented Sterling Financial, the seller. Sail Cove Apartments, 18701 NE Third Court, was built in 1971 and is a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom lakefront apartments.
NORTHERN GROUND: North Bay Village gets ground broken Tuesday on its first large residential project, Bay View Apartments. At 9:30 a.m. Feb. 19 Carey USA Properties is to begin work on a 13-story, 75-unit building at 1625 Kennedy Causeway. The one- and two-bedroom apartments, said Inigo Ardid, director of Carey USA, should be ready in 14 months. Units, she said, will rent from $950-$1,600 monthly.
BEACON STATION PLAN: Leasing agents for Beacon Station business park are pushing to bring in retail, said Pedro J. Garcia, vice president of Codina Realty Services. Now that there’s a critical mass of employees in the park at Northwest 106th Street and the Florida Turnpike, owner Flagler Development Co. and Codina built a 42,000-square-foot retail complex. To date, Codina has signed two restaurants and a small office, he said. "We’re doing nothing more than taking a play from the Codina game book. We’re going after a daycare center, an insurance company, a travel agency, a Mailboxes Etc. and a BellSouth or Nextel – the typical little businesses you go to on your lunch hour or on your way in."