Written by Miami Today on September 11, 2003
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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NO ANNUAL RAISES: If voters approve a pay raise for Miami commissioners Nov. 4, it will take another referendum before commissioners see another increase. That’s because the commission denied a provision for an annual cost-of-living increase Friday at the urging of Commissioner Joe Sanchez. Commission-approved wording on the ballot will ask for a pay hike from $5,000 to $58,200. The salary hasn’t changed since 1949, though commissioners today get benefits including cellular phones and health insurance.
CITY BUDGET: The public will get first crack at presenting its opinion on Miami’s proposed fiscal 2004 budget during a commissioner meeting today (9/11) at City Hall. The proposal details $416.5 million in the general fund, up 6% from last year’s amended budget. The public hearing will be at 5:05 p.m. Other budgets on the agenda include the Downtown Development Authority, Bayfront Park Management Trust, Department of Off-Street Parking and Model City Community Revitalization District Trust.
CONFERENCE MOVED: Chamber South’s Goals Conference this weekend has moved to Coconut Grove. The conference will be Friday and Saturday at Sonesta Hotel & Suites, 2889 McFarlane Road. It includes a cocktail reception, workshops, planning sessions and networking events. Registration is $120. The conference moved from Sonesta Beach Resort Key Biscayne because that hotel was overbooked. Details: www.chambersouth.com.
HOMES ON WATSON? The fate of a proposed Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau home on Watson Island is to be decided today (9/11) by the bureau’s executive committee, which must cover a funding shortfall or abort the project. Bureau options include extending its lease at 701 Brickell Ave. or looking to Miami Beach for a home. The project has been planned since 1997, but the bureau lost a major chunk of funding from county tax revenue when it didn’t break ground by Dec. 31 on the $11.7 million aviation and visitors center on the isle connecting Miami to Miami Beach.
MOVING TARGET: An opening date for the Performing Arts Center of Greater Miami is in limbo but is still targeted for the 2005-06 season, center officials said this week. The center’s current completion target is September 2005 with a grand opening in February 2006, said Performing Arts Center Trust President and CEO Michael Hardy. Earlier this summer, officials said construction was to be finished in July 2005 with a grand opening that October. Mr. Hardy said performers will need three months after construction is done to become accustomed to the center before a grand opening.
METROMOVER REPAIRS: The Metromover’s Inner Loop will be closed from midnight to 5 a.m. daily for repairs and system upgrades until mid-October. Transportation officials will run extra buses free for riders along the route through downtown Miami when Metromover is out of service. Revenue from a half-cent sales surtax approved by voters last November will finance the repairs.
HOTELS PERK UP: Miami-Dade County’s hotels averaged 61.5% occupancy from June 1 to Aug. 30, according to Smith Travel, up 5% from the same period last year. Those rooms had daily rates of $82.46, up 1.5% from the same period last year, said William Talbert, president of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, because higher occupancy supported higher rates. He attributed the summer’s gains to the bureau’s April and May marketing of summer festivals to its main 25 US markets.
TRAVEL SUMMIT: More than 1,200 people in the travel industry expected to sign $1 billion worth of contracts are in Miami this week to meet with business leaders and see what the area has to offer. The Le Cumbre-The Americas Summit will draw mostly suppliers and buyers of products related to travel in the Americas. The participants are at Loews Miami Beach Hotel, Crowne Plaza Royal Palm Resort Hotel and Doubletree Surfcomber Hotel.
CEO HUNT: The Donors Forum of South Florida, a five-county association of 125 foundations and corporate-giving programs, is recruiting a president and chief executive officer. Nine-year President Jo Anne Chester Bander is retiring at year’s end. The job description and application process are posted at www.donorsforumsf.org.
BEACON MEETING: The Beacon Council will hold its annual meeting Oct. 7 at Loews Miami Beach Hotel. The new officers and board of directors will be announced. AT&T President Betsy Bernard will be keynote speaker. Details: (305) 579-1382.
RAIL YARD MONIKER: Midtown Miami is likely the name for 22 blocks of homes and business expected to be built out of the Buena Vista rail yard, according to project spokesman Seth Gordon. The name also works as a reference point for the project, which occupies 56 acres bounded by Northeast 36th Street on the north, rail tracks along Northeast Second Avenue on the east, North Miami Avenue on the west and Northeast 29th Avenue on the south.
MIDTOWN SHOPPING: Developers Diversified Realty, the Ohio-based shopping-center developer building out half of the Buena Vista project, is calling the planned retail center Shops at Midtown Miami. About 600,000 square feet are to be used for retail. Mr. Gordon said to expect an "exotic mix" of big box stores and smaller shops. Site plans can be viewed at www.ddr.com.
PARK LAND BUY: Miami commissioners are to consider the $2.75 million purchase of Keystone Trailer Court at 6307 NE Second Ave., a key parcel for plans to create a park in Little Haiti., today (9/11). City documents say the site was appraised at $1,775,000. The extra funds will let seller Lincoln Property II Inc. remove tenants, clear structures and debris, cap sewerage and fence the area, according to city documents. The city would use $25 million from the 2001 Homeland Defense-Neighborhood Improvement bond to create the park.
WHIRLPOOL MOVING: Whirlpool Corp. last week signed a lease for its Latin American sales and service operations to occupy 7,295 square feet in Phase I of Doral Costa Office Park at 9800 Doral Blvd., now under construction. Walter Robinson, vice president of leasing agent Trammell Crow Co., said Doral will be more convenient than Whirlpool’s current location in the Airport Corporate Center for its customers and more than 50 employees and offers space for future growth. The move is to due this fall.
MORE VISITORS: More than 18 million people visited Florida in the second quarter, a 0.4% increase from second-quarter 2002, according to Visit Florida, the state’s tourism organization. For the first six months of this year, 38.2 million visited the state, 1% more than in the first half of 2002.
FEWER FOREIGN VISITORS: A total of 4.42 million foreign tourists came to the state last year, down 16% from 5.26 million in 2001, according to Visit Florida and the US Department of Commerce. The United Kingdom remained the top overseas market with 1.29 million visitors. It was followed by Venezuela, 301,000; Germany, 202,000; and Brazil and France, 134,000 each.
MIAMI WINNERS: Miami-based NAP of the Americas, Alienware Corp. and The Pharmed Group will be among 13 Florida companies to receive an inaugural Governor’s Business Diversification Award from Gov. Jeb Bush Sept. 18 in Tallahassee. The program, developed by Enterprise Florida, recognizes companies for efforts to diversify and enrich the state’s economy by creating higher-wage jobs and investing in their communities.