Written by Miami Today on May 15, 2003
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
of the news. Here are highlights from the most current edition.
JOBLESS RATE FALLS: Mirroring statewide improvement, Greater Miami’s unemployment rate fell to 7.1% in March from 7.4% in February, the US Department of Labor reported Tuesday. Fort Lauderdale’s unemployment rate fell to 5.5% from 5.8%. The state had unemployment of 4.9% in March, down from 5.2% in February. A year earlier, Miami’s unemployment rate was 7.7%, Fort Lauderdale’s 5.9% and the state’s 5.2%. A total of 78,300 were unemployed in Greater Miami, 46,900 in the Fort Lauderdale area in March.
GROVE OFFICES SOLD: Real-estate investor WBP Miami Acquisitions has paid $11.5 million for Continental Plaza, a five-story, 81,000-square-foot office building in Coconut Grove. The brick building at Mary Street and Day Avenue is about 90% occupied by small and medium-sized companies, said Bill Lezinski of WBP. "It was one of the few such buildings available on the market that works well with our investment strategies in terms of tenant mix and the potential for market-price increases," he said. The seller, Alecta Real Estate Continental Plaza Inc., declined comment.
BANK DEAL NEAR: Miami-based Gulf Bank, which has been operating under close federal scrutiny for 18 months, says it is close to selling its $90 million in assets. Although the Federal Reserve issued a cease-and-desist order against Gulf in November 2001 for failing to comply with customer reporting codes, several buyers are interested in the nearly 20-year-old institution, said CEO James M. Assalone. An earlier bid from Pan American Bank is no longer being considered because the bank, which has four locations in Miami-Dade County, has received better offers, Mr. Assalone said.
IN SEARCH OF: The New World School of the Arts’ board has begun a search to replace Provost Stephen Sumner, who leaves June 30 to become president of Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. Incoming board Chairman David Lawrence will lead the search. The school is a partnership of the Miami-Dade Public School System, Miami-Dade Community College and the University of Florida. Students may enroll in ninth grade, earn diplomas and continue for higher degrees in the arts at M-DCC and the University of Florida.
NEW LEADER: Doran Jason of 30-year-old real-estate fixture Doran Jason Group has passed the torch to partner Dwight Hewett, who replaces him as president and CEO of the company. Mr. Hewett, a 20-year real-estate veteran, said his predecessor was instrumental in reviving Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road Mall and other districts. "He set very high standards, and I like having high standards to meet."
TRADING WITH SANTIAGO: A trade mission of about 25 small companies is heading from Miami to Santiago, Dominican Republic. "This is a good opportunity for Florida companies to establish contacts and business relationships in the Dominican Republic for both merchandise trade and foreign direct investment," said Yunis Segura, president of the Dominican International Chamber of Commerce. According to Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development agency, the Dominican Republic is the state’s third-largest trading partner behind Brazil and Japan and accounted for $4.8 billion in merchandise trade in 2002. The registration deadline for the trade mission is May 20. Details: (305) 643-2866.
INTERNATIONAL REAL ESTATE: The Urban Land Institute’s Southeast Florida/Caribbean District will sponsor a seminar on international real-estate investing from 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m. May 21 at Eden Roc Renaissance Resort & Spa, 4525 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included and seminar fees vary. Details: 1-800-321-5011.
TALES OF TALLAHASSEE: Florida House majority whip Marco Rubio is to speak to Brickell area executives May 28 at the Of Importance to Brickell lunch series, sponsored by the Brickell Area Association and Miami Today. The noon lunch is at the JW Marriott hotel, 109 Brickell Ave., in London rooms I and II. The lunch is $35 for association members, $40 for others. Reservations must be paid by May 21. Details: Gloria Konsler, (305) 375-0080.
MARITIME AWARD: Charles A. Towsley, seaport director of the Dante B. Fascell Port of Miami-Dade, was named 2003 Maritime Person of the Year by the Propeller Club of the United States, a national advocacy for the maritime industries. The club’s Miami chapter recognized Mr. Towsley, a 25-year industry veteran, for contributions to the promotion of trade and waterborne commerce.
AMERIJET PURCHASE: Cargo carrier Amerijet International on Monday bought an interest in ITN Consolidators of Miami, a family-owned ocean-freight company. The companies will continue to operate independently. Fort Lauderdale-based Amerijet said it will integrate ITN’s sales and product lines.
GAIN SOME: The City of Miami bought the first bundle of properties for its proposed Little Haiti park. City commissioners, at Thursday’s regular meeting, approved the acquisition of a 9,375-square-foot parcel for $150,000 at 263 NE 59th Terrace, a parcel of undetermined size for $205,000 at 265-71 NE 59th Terrace, two parcels totaling 11,000 square feet for a combined $103,500 at 253 and 255 NE 59th Terrace and three parcels totaling 27,352 square feet from Miami-Dade County at no cost at 299 and 303 NE 59th Terrace and 6150 NE Fourth Ave. The area marked for acquisition is from Northeast 59th to 67th streets and from Northeast Second Avenue to the Florida East Coast Railway tracks. The city has earmarked $25 million for the park.
LITTLE HAITI CHANGES: Miami Chief Administrator Joe Arriola said the city might tear down Little Haiti’s Caribbean Marketplace in its efforts to build a proposed park. The building is at Northeast Second Avenue and 59th Terrace. He said the city is considering demolishing the building because of its location. "That’s the area targeted to be the beginning of Little Haiti park."
GLOBAL BANKING REVOLUTION: How changes around the globe are affecting international banking in Miami will be the focus of the International Roundtable on June 19. Panelists are Bowman Brown, head of financial services practice at law firm Shutts & Bowen; Augustin Garcia, senior vice president of correspondent banking at Colonial Bank; Thomas P. Noonan, president and CEO of BAC Florida Bank and first vice president of the Florida International Bankers Association; and Peter R. Wallin, head of organization of Standard Bank Group. Colonial Bank and Miami Today will present the roundtable at a 7:30 a.m. breakfast at Colonial Bank, 1200 Brickell Ave., 10th floor. Details and reservations: Techy Fernandez, (305) 358-2663.
SCHOOLS’ ECONOMIC IMPACT: Merrett Stierheim, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, will speak on the future of the county school system and its effect on Greater Miami’s economic growth. The leader of the nation’s fourth-largest school system will address the Commercial Real Estate Women, or CREW Miami, on restoring the district’s credibility at 11:30 a.m. May 27 at the Hotel Sofitel, 5800 Blue Lagoon Drive, Miami. Details: (954) 437-7048.
PATRIOT ACT: Jimmy Gurule, a former enforcement official for the US Treasury, will talk about the USA Patriot Act at a luncheon sponsored by the Florida International Bankers Association and the Notre Dame Club of Miami. Mr. Gurule is now a law professor at the University of Notre Dame. The event is scheduled for noon-2:30 p.m. May 29 at InterContinental Miami, 100 Chopin Plaza. Details: (305) 579-0086.