Written by Miami Today on April 3, 2003
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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TOWER ON MARKET: Miami’s Colonial Bank Center at 1200 Brickell Ave. is for sale with several potential buyers, said owner Colonnade Properties of New York. The 20-story black glass tower at Coral Way was just 30% occupied when the firm bought it about five years ago, said Jeff DuFresne, Colonnade’s Southeast region VP. It’s now over 90% occupied, he said, with tenants including Colonial Bank, the LVMH Group and steakhouse Morton’s of Chicago. "Miami is a strong market, and we’re interested to see what kind of reaction we’ll get from the market."
NEW BUCKS: The Miami City Commission approved a compensation package of $231,786 for new Chief Administrator Joe Arriola last Thursday. A Feb. 25 city document comparing his salary to his predecessor Carlos Gimenez breaks down the benefits. Mr. Arriola waived his health insurance and the value of the coverage was added to his salary for a total of $177,385. Though Mr. Arriola started in January, no agreement had been made on how much the job would pay. The approval was unanimous, though Commissioner Arthur Teele Jr., who has already had conflicts with Mr. Arriola, jokingly asked after the vote if a severance package was included in the totals.
WEST MIAMI RESIGNATION: Patricia Allen Carbonell, former head of Miami’s Downtown Development Authority, is now also the former city manager of West Miami. She submitted a letter of resignation March 21 citing the need to tend to her husband after a serious illness. The letter said absences caused by family illness had been causing difficulties. She leaves Mercedes Leon as acting city manager until the city commission names a replacement. As director of Miami’s DDA for seven years, Patti Allen resigned suddenly and was cited in an audit for unauthorized expenses that were later deducted from her severance package.
DIGGING IN: Miami historian Arva Moore Parks has been hired to work side-by-side with archeologist Bob Carr to search for historical artifacts buried in parcels across the Dupont Plaza between Biscayne Bay and the Miami Hyatt Regency hotel. MDM Development Group has contracted to buy the 6 undeveloped acres and is working on securing financing to build three residential towers and ground retail. The search is part of the due-diligence process carried on before closing land deals.
FLAGGED DOWN: Miami commissioners denied an appeal by the Homestead Miami Speedway protesting permits for roadwork by Raceworks for its Grand Prix Americas race along Biscayne Boulevard. Homestead Miami Speedway had opposed the work and the race, deeming the deal a "preferential no-bid contract" and the roadwork a violation of code. The Grand Prix Americas is to return for a second run Sept. 26-28.
ANOTHER BRICKELL CONDO: Real estate investment firm Madison Capital Group expects to secure construction financing early this summer for a spiraling 39-story condo tower planned to rise out of a parking lot at 1390 Brickell Bay Drive. Construction of the estimated $53 million tower is to begin by late summer and finish in 2005, said Xavier Hawley, president of Vistas International Realty Development Group, which recently bought the property and associated development rights from Florida East Coast Realty for $10 million.
GO WEST, YOUNG FIRM: Miami law firm Feldman, Gale & Weber this week opened an office in Los Angeles to expand its work in intellectual property rights litigation. Through a partnership, the 8-year-old firm will post three fulltime lawyers at the new branch and target clients in film and other entertainment industries. "There’s so much intellectual property litigation that emanates from or involves California that is significant," said partner Jim Gale. "Our hope is that within two or three years we’ll be able to have a number of lawyers in Southern California and possibly some in Northern California."
GOVERNMENT EXPERTISE: Spillis Candela DMJM in Coral Gables, an architecture, engineering and interior design firm, named Sandy O’Neil vice president in charge of government liaison and community relations. The former senior policy advisor to Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas has 15 years of consulting experience with South Florida architectural and engineering firms. Parent DMJM Design network is part of AECOM Technology Corp., a technical services organization with 15,500 employees and 150 locations.
NEW GABLES POST: Coral Gables last week hired Stephen Albee, who has published several local newspapers, as business development administrator, a new post within the city’s development department responsible for corporate recruitment and retention and economic development marketing. The city is launching several development projects to promote cultural and historical preservation as well as the presence of multinational corporations, said Catherine Swanson, development director.
GAINING STEAM: A plan to expand the Tri-County Commuter Rail Authority into a broader South Florida Regional Transit Authority for Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties Monday gained approval in the House Committee on State Administration. The bill, however, will not permit the counties to fund the expanded authority with the $2 license tag fee that local government and business leaders had requested. Conservative house members, including bill author Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Lauderdale, said they would under no circumstances allow any funding mechanism construed as a new tax. The Senate version of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Steve Geller, D-Hallandale Beach, has not been heard in committee.
AIDS CONFERENCE: More than 1,500 researchers, clinicians, social workers, health experts and leaders fighting HIV/AIDS attended a four-day conference this week at the Inter-Continental Miami hosted by the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Miami has the second-highest rate of any US metropolitan area, with Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach third and fourth, according to the foundation. Since 1985, the foundation has used nearly $207 million in support of its programs and awarded grants to more than 1,960 research teams.
REACHING OUT: The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau will have 12 staffers visit travel agencies, tour operators and media in 23 cities April 7-May 22 to promote the county as a wartime destination, said William Talbert III, president and CEO. He said this would be the bureau’s largest road show in the 6-year-old marketing initiative. Targets include drive tourism cities Jacksonville, Naples, Orlando, St. Petersburg and Tampa. Also on the list are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington, DC.
BUYING MORE: Miami-Dade Commissioners April 8 are to discuss Commissioner Rebeca Sosa’s proposal to delegate procurement authority to as much as $1 million from the current $500,000 lid, said Theodore Lucas, Department of Procurement Management head. Delegating authority to the county manager and staff to advertise and award contracts of up to $1 million could save up to three months. Currently, items of $500,000 to $1 million, representing 3.8% of contracts awarded last year, go before a commission committee and then full commission for OK.
PERMIT CENTER: The Miami-Dade County Building Department beginning this week will offer a temporary permitting center at the Caleb Center’s Team Metro Office, 5400 NW 22nd Ave., suite 702, from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Staff will consist of a building permit clerk, roofing plans examiner and electrical field unit supervisor. Details: (305) 636-2333.
HIGH HONORS: Miami-Dade County’s Department of Procurement Management has received the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing’s Outstanding Agency Accreditation Achievement Award. Of the 2,100 governmental agencies associated with the National Institute, only 54 got the accreditation, said CEO Rick Grimm.
HELPING HANDS: United Way of Miami-Dade is renewing its three-year commitment to Hands On Miami, a non-profit volunteer referral network that provides manpower to about 400 community service organizations throughout Miami-Dade County. Hands On Miami coordinators assess volunteers’ skill levels, interests and schedules to better match people with particular community missions. Details: (305) 646-7200 or visit www.HandsOnMiami.org.