Written by Miami Today on July 17, 2003
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CONSOLIDATING BOARDS: The Miami City Commission plans to abolish the International Trade Board and Sister Cities Coordinating Council and replace them with the Mayor’s International Council at today’s (7/17) regular meeting. The idea is to create one agency that advises elected officials on international trade, the Sister Cities program and protocol for visits of international dignitaries and promotes foreign trade and cultural exchanges. The new body will have 16 members and a non-voting, salaried executive director. Its budget is to be determined.
HEADED TO OVERTOWN: Miami’s Community Redevelopment Agency hopes to move to new headquarters by August, said Executive Director Frank Rollason. The agency, which uses property taxes to improve southeast Overtown, Park West and Omni, is based in Dupont Plaza, 300 Biscayne Blvd. Way. It will move to 49 NW Fifth St., just south of Miami Arena. A two-year lease approved Tuesday is for $15.80 per square foot for 10,000 square feet, or $13,167 a month. While the current lease is $13.60 per square foot for 6,000 square feet, Mr. Rollason said the cost increase is worth having a bigger, nicer, safer space.
TICKETED: According to the license between the City of Miami and the promoter of a downtown auto race, tickets included in sponsorship packages or bartered for goods or services are considered sold, according to a legal opinion issued this month by City Attorney Alex Vilarello in a dispute with Raceworks regarding a surcharge on ticket sales. The promoter of Grand Prix Americas has balked at paying $9,336 for tickets it said it didn’t sell during its October street race. Grand Prix Americas President Chuck Martinez declined comment pending a review of the opinion by a company attorney.
BOOM GOES ON: The National Association of Realtors projects a 6% rise in existing-home prices this year, bringing the median price nationwide to $167,800. In the association’s July Outlook, Chief Economist David Lereah attributes the projected rise to historically low interest rates and tight inventories. The figure matches Florida’s price increases in May, the most recent month for which statistics are available from the Florida Association of Realtors. Miami listings showed a 15% increase in May to $209,600 from $182,000 in May 2002. Mr. Lereah said the number homes sold nationwide this year should easily surpass last year’s record.
NEO VERTIKA: Developer Lissette Calderon’s latest condominium project goes before the Miami City Commission today (7/17) for a multi-use special permit. The Miami native is planning Neo Vertika, a 36-story, 443-unit tower with 24,000 square feet of retail space to rise at 690 SW First Ave., along the south bank of the Miami River. The project is expected to cost $129 million, employ 260 workers and create 26 jobs during construction and add $2 million annually in tax revenue, according to city documents. Neo Vertika, set to open at the end of 2006, has the approval of the city’s planning advisory board and the Miami River Commission.
MARKET SLUMPS: The Airport West and West Dade commercial real-estate markets did not recover in the second quarter, according to Insignia ESG. The availability rates in the two markets are 20.3%, or 230,000 square feet, a slight improvement from the first quarter, when rates were 21.5%. Buildings with the highest vacancies are Doral Concourse and 703 Waterford at Blue Lagoon. Prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, only 11.1% of office space in that region was vacant. Prices for office space slightly decreased in the past year to $20.25 per square foot from $20.46.
RETURNING HOME: Residents of an evacuated Brickell-area condominium may be able to return to their homes Aug. 15. The City of Miami ordered Brickell Harbour Condominium, 200 SE 15th Road, evacuated in March amid fears that the 17-story tower could collapse, said condo association attorney Paul Breitner. More than $1 million in repairs are being made by Structural Preservation Systems of Pompano, which is correcting weakened cables that serve as reinforcement to concrete floors.
UN-REAL RETIREMENT: Kay Byrne, founder of Miami real estate firm Byrne Rinehart Co., has been lured out of retirement. She has teamed with daughter Kay Brown to open Granny Kay’s Frozen Custard at 5780 Sunset Drive, South Miami. Ms. Byrne, who took an extended vacation after joining Esslinger Wooten Maxwell as a shareholder in 1997, said she rediscovered the frozen treat while returning from a trip to Montana. "Frozen custard is the hit of the Midwest. Every time I spotted a shop, there would be lines of people," she said. "Once I tasted it, I understood why." Ms. Byrne said she became "totally enthralled with the concept of bringing frozen custard home to South Miami" after talking with a franchise operator in Milwaukee. Details: (305) 666-1170.
NEW LONDON FLIGHT: Virgin Atlantic Airways now operates a daily nonstop flight between Miami International Airport and London’s Heathrow Airport. The flight leaves Miami at 6:25 p.m. and arrives at Heathrow at 7:50 a.m. the next day. Flights are on an Airbus A340.
CONSULTANT CHOSEN: The North Miami City Council has chosen Siskind Carlson & Partners/Judson and Partners as the consulting team to study the need for a community redevelopment agency, which, if approved, could give city planners a larger share of local property taxes. The team’s first step will be to investigate and assess areas that should be redeveloped, said Steve Siskind of Siskind Carlson. The preliminary phase, he said, should be completed within 90 days.
TRADE TALK: Chuck Cobb, chairman of Florida Free Trade Area of the Americas, will speak at the Chamber South general-membership breakfast at 7:30 a.m. July 23 at Marriott Miami Dadeland, 9090 S Dadeland Blvd. His topic will be "The Importance of the Free Trade Area of the Americas to You and the State of Florida." Tickets are $12 for members with prepaid registrations, $20 for all others. Details: (305) 661-1621.
EUROPEAN DEAL: Pharmaceutical group IVAX says it now has exclusive rights to 3M’s branded respiratory products, along with around 200 related marketing and sales staff in nine European countries: United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. "This transaction complements IVAX’s growing strength in the global respiratory products market," said Neil Flanzraich, IVAX vice chairman and president. "Additionally, these products, along with the marketing and sales infrastructure, will expand IVAX’s presence in several strategically important countries and provide a robust platform for IVAX’s rich and diverse product pipeline."
LOOKING AHEAD: The Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce is to set its yearly agenda during its July 25-27 goals conference at Biltmore Hotel. The chamber will hold workshops on economic development, community affairs, international business and refocusing on the chamber’s values. Manny Mencia of Enterprise Florida and Jorge Arrizurietta of Florida Free Trade Area of the Americas will speak. Details: (305) 446-1657 or www.coralgableschamber.org.
TOWER CONSTRUCTION: Construction on The Beach Club, a 43-story oceanfront condominium tower at 1850 S. Ocean Drive in Hollywood, is to begin by month’s end and be competed in early 2005, said Karen Lempert of developer The Related Group of Florida. More than half the units, from $300,000 to $800,000, are sold, she said.
EMERALD GLOWS: Construction of the 27-story condominium tower Emerald at Brickell is to begin in October and should be completed in December 2005, developers said. The building, at 218 SE 14th St., will have 142 units that will be priced at $250,000 to more than $1 million. Developers SunVest Resort Communities and Hamilton Investment Group LLC say it is 40% sold.