Written by Miami Today on December 25, 2003
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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CABBIES BUCK UP: Taking a cab from Miami International Airport now costs many riders $1 more to compensate cab owners for costs due to airport security, traffic congestion near the airport and tolls. Miami-Dade County commissioners approved the increase this month, though it took effect Oct. 1. The change affects trips from the airport to Miami Beach, the Port of Miami, Key Biscayne and several areas near the airport. Miami-Dade has the fourth-highest cab fares of 19 major areas surveyed by the county. The most recent increase, according to county documents, was in 1997.
TRANSIT JOBS GROW: Miami-Dade County’s transit expansion program approved by voters last year has created 500 jobs for transit operators and technicians, according to county records. The transit plan, funded by a half-cent sales surtax, has resulted thus far in 256 additional buses and 24-hour Metrorail and Metromover service.
RIVER WORK FLOWING: The US Army Corps of Engineers is accepting bids for Miami River dredging and plans for work to begin between March and July, according to an update presented this month to Miami-Dade County commissioners. The $45 million project is to take about three years. Workers will remove excess waste on the bottom of the river so heavier ships can navigate the waters.
HOT HOTELS: Miami boasts the fifth-most-popular US hotel destination for New Year’s Eve, a jump from the city’s ninth-place rank last year, according to Hotwire.com, a discount travel Web site. Florida is the only state to place multiple cities in the top five. Orlando is the No. 2. New York took top honors. Chicago is third and San Francisco fourth. California has three cities in the top 10, earning seventh place for Los Angeles and 10th place for San Diego.
HEALTH BUSINESS CUTS: A reported $1.8 million operating loss for the fiscal year ending in June is prompting Continucare Corp. of Miami to cut its home health-care agencies, according to CEO Richard Pfenniger. The corporation operated two Medicare-licensed home health-care agencies and three private ones. The 8-year-old corporation with $4.2 million in revenues for the year will continue operating its 15 outpatient medical centers in Florida. According to the company’s Web site, about 18,000 patients use the service each year. Continucare’s current home health-care employees will find new jobs in other companies but Mr. Pfenniger would not release the names of those firms.
PROGRAM SIGNUP: The Dade Community Foundation has invited young professionals to apply for Class III of its leadership program, the Miami Fellows Initiative, which provides education, travel, and networking opportunities. The free two-year program, which begins in March, is open to all county residents in the early stages of their careers or with less than 10 years’ experience. Organizers say the event, sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, targets “those who have an interest in community activism and a passion to make a difference in Miami-Dade County.” Details: (305) 663-1222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BLOCK SALE: Alexander Chediak sold 700-744 NE Second Ave., an entire city block between Northeast Seventh and Eighth streets in downtown Miami, for $2.8 million, or $103.70 a square foot. David Z. Sokol of Keyes Co. identified Royal Palm Park West as the buyer and said the buyer has no immediate plans for the lot. Buildings totaling 18,258 square feet sit on the 300-foot by 90-foot parcel. Tenants include a grocery, a coffee shop, a Western Union outlet and a pawnshop
PORT SECURITY: The Port of Miami will host one of the largest shipping conferences in the Western Hemisphere Feb. 25-27. The Organization of the American States Hemispheric Conference on Port Security will focus on how to improve security and cope with new regulations. Another topic will be how the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement would affect international port security standards
GROWING HOSPITALITY: Tecton Hospitality, a Miami-based hotel management company that in October merged with R&S Investment Co., this week moved to larger offices. Tecton, which manages 20 hotels and resorts in the US and the Caribbean for hospitality brands such as Sheraton and Marriott, will for the first time purchase properties through R&S. The company moved from 300 Biscayne Blvd. Way to 4,000 square feet at 1101 Brickell Ave. Miami-Dade properties under Tecton’s management include the Best Western Inn in South Miami, The Wave and Aqua hotels in Miami Beach and the Traymore Hotel in South Beach.
VOLVO VOID: The next Volvo Ocean Race won’t return to Miami after docking here during the 2001-02 race. It will call in New York City instead. Officials said they had an excellent time in Miami during the last race but will visit New York to vary things for participants. The only other US city the ships will stop at is Baltimore, which officials said is geographically convenient after the long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. When the last race visited Miami it had an estimated economic impact of $65 million here. The next race, to begin November 2005, will make stops in Spain, New Zealand, Brazil, the US and England.
PASS THE GAVEL: Johnny Winton presided over his last Miami City Commission meeting Thursday as chairman, with the task now rotated to Arthur Teele Jr. Joe Sanchez will serve as vice chairman. At the end of the meeting, Mayor Manny Diaz presented Mr. Winton with a glass gavel in appreciation for his service. “Mine was smaller,” commented previous chairman Tomas Regalado, sparking laughter and off-color comments.
FIVE-WAY SPLIT: Hand-delivering a check to the city manager, Commissioner Regalado on Thursday donated $25,000 in surplus campaign funds, splitting the money five ways with fellow commissioners. Each commissioner will get $5,000 for a reserve fund for his district’s Community Development Block Grant program.
LINCOLN CENTER SOLD: Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road pedestrian mall proved its upscale value Monday as the 235,000-square-foot Lincoln Center sold for $43 million. RFR Holdings LLC of New York, in an equity partnership with Greenstreet/Niosi Capital Partners, purchased the building that houses an 18-screen multiplex cinema, retail stores and a 290-car parking garage. The four-story, fully leased building anchors the western edge of the pedestrian mall at Lincoln and Alton roads.
TOWER’S START NEAR: Work may begin in March on a three-tiered, 40-story condo tower to rise from a Brickell area parking lot. BBB Group, formerly South Bayshore Tower Development, has hired Bernard Zyscovich to design the $90 million building. Fortune International will broker residences that range from $200,000 to more than $1 million. A publicist for 1390 Brickell Bay said Tuesday that more than half of its 323 units are sold. The property was purchased in February from Florida East Coast Realty for $9.7 million, according to Miami-Dade County property records.
DINING DELAY: A pair of Spanish-cuisine restaurants in the former Firehouse Four building will have a “soft opening” in mid-January, said Larry Harris, principal of New Spanish Concepts in Delaware and founder of Pollo Tropical. Mr. Harris purchased the rights to operate in the 80-year-old former City of Miami firehouse and has until Wednesday (12/31) to open the business or be in default on his lease agreement. He acknowledged penalties for missing the deadline, saying there are “monetary obligations, which we are fulfilling.” The two restaurants are to open with a combined staff of about 80, he said Tuesday.
INTERNET CONFERENCE: More than 400 Internet operators will gather for a North American Network Operators’ Group conference in Miami Feb. 8-10. Terremark Worldwide will sponsor the event featuring three days of tutorials, specialized classes and presentations. The group holds similar meetings three times annually. To sign up, send an e-mail to email@example.com.