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Written by on December 12, 2002

ROCK SOLID: Despite softening market conditions, leasing and sales agents for Miami’s Four Seasons Hotel and Tower remain steadfast in their strategy, says property developer Brian Collins, president of New York-based Millennium Partners. That sales/leasing strategy, marketed by Millennium and commercial leasing specialists at Cushman & Wakefield, still includes potential tenants in 186 condos (400,000 square feet), a 222-key Four Seasons hotel (250,000 square feet), class A office space (200,000 square feet), 84 condo/hotel units (100,000 square feet), a fitness and spa facility (40,000 square feet) and retail space (roughly 5,000 square feet). "There is no way to change those numbers, Mr. Collins said this week, adding the tenant breakdown is "set in stone."

ONE MIAMI: Developers of One Miami, the massive mixed-use project along Biscayne Bay, plan to break ground in April, said project director Ami Tanel. The Atlanta offices of EDAW, an environmental design consultant firm, was recently hired to design the riverwalk next to the project’s two luxury residential towers, office space and restaurant, said Mr. Tanel. Jorge Perez’s The Related Group of Florida has also picked a Toronto-based interior design firm, Yabu Pushelberg, for the twin condo towers. Said Mr. Tanel of the project, "It’s going to be smashing."

BIG TIME ART: How big was last week’s Art Basel exhibit here? Big enough to make an expert believe that it’s larger than the original. Joerg Feigenwinter, Switzerland’s deputy consul general in Atlanta, toured the exhibition before its opening with Urs Lindenmann, Switzerland’s honorary consul here, and made that assessment. And Mr. Feigenwinter is from Basel. How important was the exhibit? Says Suzanne Delehanty, director of the Miami Art Museum, Art Basel here is now the most important art showing in the US.

INAUGURATION OVERSIGHT: Gov. Jeb Bush named Miami Beach accountant James P. Robinson treasurer of his second term inauguration committee. Mr. Robinson, a partner with accounting firm Gerson, Preston, Robinson & Co., will oversee all contributions and expenditures made directly in support of the inaugural event, set for Jan. 5-7 at the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee. As well as being his personal accountant since 1981, Mr. Robinson also served Mr. Bush as both campaign and inaugural committee treasurer for his first term. Founded in 1951, Gerson, Preston, Robinson & Co. has 50 employees and offices in Miami Beach, Boca Raton and Tampa Bay.

LOOKING NORTH: Coral Gables-based Commercebank said it planned to expand in the New York market, hiring Peter H. Smith as VP and real estate lending officer in its New York office. With more than $3 billion in assets, it has six offices in Miami-Dade County, three in Broward and one in Houston. It’s affiliated with Venezuela’s largest financial institution, Mercantil Servicios Financieros.

LINK TO GERMANY: A Miami Beach design firm bought a German marketing and planning company this month. Steinberg Advertising + Design purchased Impulskraft, whose clients have included Hyundai, Subaru, Kawasaki and Daewoo. SA+D is a private company with offices in Miami Beach and Frankfurt that provides advertising, branding, interactive, photographic and graphic design service. Impulskraft will keep its offices in Germany. "We’re focusing ourselves as a small global agency," said company President David Steinberg.

PAINT THE BANK RED: Florida-based BankAtlantic last week began a colorful promotion for its customers, called Red Fridays. For the next year, not only will branch locations and employees be dressed in red, but customers who come in wearing the hot color for the next 52 weeks will receive gifts such as Frisbees, key chains and bottle openers. Later this month, the bank will also host photos with Santa, who dresses in red on a regular basis.

SHOPPING TILL THEY DROP: Three Miami shopping centers have been ranked among the top 15 in the US based on annual sales per square foot, with Bal Harbour Shops tops in the nation at $1,350, Women’s Wear Daily reports. Dadeland ranks 10th at $690 per square foot, with Aventura Mall 12th at $680. The average US mall sells about $340 per square foot, the newspaper reports. Other top US malls: the Forum Shops in Las Vegas second, Ala Monana Center in Honolulu third, the Americana in Manhasset, NY, fourth, and South Coast Plaza in California fifth.

ON THE VERANDA: The Village of Merrick Park, a 20-acre mixed development project that opened its first stores in September, celebrates its third-floor Veranda today (12/12) from 7-10 p.m. The event kicks off 14 upscale home furnishings stores in the outdoor mall area of the project. Veranda stores range from Ann Gish, known for decorative silks and other textiles, to StoneHaus, known for architectural ceramics. In addition to the Veranda, home decor shoppers may also visit six other home furnishings stores throughout the complex. The Village of Merrick Park is at Ponce de Leon Boulevard and San Lorenzo Street (just north of US 1) in Coral Gables

WATER BONDS GLEAM: Moody’s Investor Service, a global credit rating firm, gave an Aaa rating to the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department’s $420 million in outstanding revenue bonds. The rating is the Moody’s highest, making the bonds desirable investments. The department is one the largest water and sewer utilities in the US, serving most of Miami-Dade’s 2.3 million residents.

UNITED FLIES: Despite this week’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by its parent company, UAL Corp., United Airlines continues to serve passengers at Miami International Airport, said Aviation Director Angela Gittens. No flights have been canceled or delayed here and activities at check-in counters and gates are normal. United has stressed that it will continue with business as usual and will honor all current and future tickets.

FINLAND NAMES CONSUL: The Consulate General of Finland named Susan Kelley, president of Coral Gables marketing agency Kelley Swofford Roy, its honorary consul for Finland in Miami. Replacing William Spohrer, Ms. Kelley now heads efforts to strengthen economic and cultural ties between Finland and her South Florida jurisdiction, covering Miami-Dade, Broward, Collier and Monroe counties. "South Florida’s reputation as an international hub of commerce, fashion, technology and the arts can only benefit from a long-term relationship with Finland," she said. A Massachusetts native, she attended Garland College in Boston and has lived in England and Germany.

GROUP PARTY: For the fourth year, members of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce spread holiday cheer Dec. 10 with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and Beacon Council with hosts The Falls shopping mall. The party was planned for The Falls Center Court but then moved into the garages because of earlier tornado warnings, said planners. By the day of the event, more than 850 people had sent in an RSVP, many of whom belong to two or more of the inviting agencies. With so much overlap, it may be only a matter of time before the agencies resolve to combine membership drives.

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