Written by Miami Today on January 1, 2004
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
of the news. Here are highlights from the most current edition.
53-BUILDING CENTER SOLD: At a total cost of $242 million, PS Business Parks Inc. is the new owner of the 53-building Miami International Commerce Center next to Miami International Airport. The sale closed Tuesday. With 3.35 million square feet of multitenant industrial and flex space and approximately 60,000 square feet of retail space, the park, built between 1970 and 1980, is considered the starting point for the now-industrially rich area west of the airport. CB Richard Ellis handled the sale of the park previously owned by Chicago-based pension-fund advisor Heitman Real Estate Investment Management.
HOME RESALES RISE: More Miami homes were resold and at higher prices in November, according to the Florida Association of Realtors. The community boasts the third-highest percentage increase in home sale prices among Florida cities studied. A report from the real estate association said 933 homes were resold in November, up 5% from the 885 in November 2002. The market’s median sales price increased 20% to $233,500 from $194,800 in November 2002. Greater Miami and the Beaches Realtor Association Chairman Tom Dixon pointed to historically low mortgage rates as a motivator for buyers. "Buying a home, whether it’s for the first time or the purchase of a bigger, more expensive home, is considered a smart investment," he said. St. Lucie County earned the greatest increase in home resales, 28%. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton was second with 21%.
WHAT TO PAY FOR? Miami-Dade County officials will host the first in a series of town hall meetings Jan. 7 to get feedback on a proposed general obligation bond. The outcome of the town hall meetings is to determine what projects will be included in a $1.6 billion capital improvement bond on the November ballot. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the Northeast Branch Library, 2930 Aventura Blvd., Aventura. If voters pass the bond, county officials have said, taxes would not increase because debt payments would replace those on an existing bond issue that expires in October.
TRADE MISSION: The Jay Malina International Trade Consortium will host a business-development mission focusing on Shanghai, China, Hong Kong and Singapore March 5-16. The mission will concentrate on services in architecture, construction, engineering, biomedical, information technology, financial and legal services, trade support and logistics, travel and tourism and merchandise trade. Organizers say the mission is designed to "find and reach potential customers and colleagues in South Asia, establish direct air links between South Asia and Miami-Dade, explore import and export opportunites in China and take advantage of the United States-Singapore free-trade agreement." Details: (305) 375-5808.
INDISPUTABLY TIMELY: With more than $10 billion filed in international dispute claims in the past two years, organizers of a Miami law conference say their Jan. 28-30 meeting, the second annual International Arbitration Conference, is especially timely. Steel Hector & Davis will host "Arbitration Without a Contract: Disputes Involving Investment and Other Treaties." The firm says Miami’s growing involvement in dispute settlement in Latin America, plus the planned Free Trade Area of the Americas and its proposed Miami headquarters, make South Florida a logical venue for the event. Details: (305) 448-4536.
COLOMBIAN BANK OPENS: Bancolombia opened its Miami offices Dec. 8, making it the only foreign bank to open in Florida in 2003. Linda Charity, deputy director of Florida’s Office of Financial Institutions, said the only other application her office has received from a foreign bank looking to move to Florida came Monday from Honduras-based Banco Financiera Comercial HondureÒa SA. Florida has no Honduran banks. Bancolombia’s Miami division is at 1111 Brickell Ave. The bank was founded in 1997 in a merger of Banco Industrial de Colombia and Banco de Colombia.
WEATHER CHANNEL: The Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archive is presenting "Weather Vain" 1-3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays Jan. 13-29 at the Main Miami-Dade Public Library Auditorium, 101 W Flagler St. The free screening, part of the archive’s Video Rewind series, is a look at weather and weather forecasters in South Florida over the years using home movies, travelogues, news film and videos. Details: (305) 375-1505.
PRUDENT EQUITY: North Miami Beach-based Equity One Inc., which bills itself as the leading owner of supermarket-anchored shopping centers in the southern US, announced it closed last month on centers in Buford, GA; Greenville and Bluffton, SC; and Panama City Beach. The four centers, bought for $49.2 million, bring to 186 the number of properties in Equity One’s 19.9 million-square-foot portfolio, said CEO Chaim Katzman. All four of the newly acquired centers, he said, are in high-growth markets and are anchored by the dominant local supermarket. He said Equity One last year paid $974 million for 105 properties. "We have accomplished this growth prudently," he said, "and will finish the year with a conservative and flexible financial profile." He said Equity One has 127 supermarket-anchored centers, 11 drugstore-anchored centers, 41 other-retail-anchored centers, two commercial properties and five retail developments as well as non-controlling interests in two unconsolidated joint ventures. Details: www.equityone.net.
ONLINE LIBRARY: Floridians have a new way to search and access reference material with the launch of the Florida Electronic Library recently. The free online service will allow Florida residents to access electronic magazines, newspapers, almanacs, encyclopedias, books and other documents. The site, www.flelibaray.org, also offers live, online help from librarians. The program is funded by a state grant from the Florida Division of Library and Information Services.
TECHNOLOGY SUMMIT: Technology experts and industry leaders will visit Miami Feb. 26-27 for the second annual ITFlorida High-Tech Summit. Participants will help prepare non-profit ITFlorida’s 2004 report to the governor and Legislature as well as participate in workshops and discussions with industry leaders. Attendance at the New Radisson Hotel Miami costs $250. Details: ITFlorida, (800) 748-1120.
ARTS SEARCH: Arts Recognition and Talent Search finalists from across the country will compete for $3 million in college scholarships and $10,000 in cash prizes at the ARTS Week festival Monday through Jan. 11 in Miami. The program, funded by the National Foundation for Advancement in Arts, will feature 125 actors, dancers, filmmakers, classical and jazz musicians, vocalists, photographers, writers and visual artists. Finalists will be nominated for a possible White House-sponsored Medallion Ceremony in June 2004. More than 6,500 hopefuls competed to begin the competition.
GATOR GROWS: As part of a $6 million expansion, Gator Leasing Inc., a truck rental and maintenance company, opened a 21,690-square-foot facility at 10900 NW 25th St. "We’ve got a lot of that growth that moved west, and we moved with it," said President Jim Hammel. The next expansion is to be a two-story, 20,000-square-foot building on the site to house a Gator office and offer commercial space for lease. It’s to be built by December 2004. Gator employs 200, operates in six Florida cities and plans to open in Jacksonville and Fort Myers by the first quarter of 2005.
NAST’S TOP NESTS: A Conde Nast Traveler poll found three Miami area hotels to be among the best places in the world to stay. They are the Tides Hotel in Miami Beach, Mandarin Oriental in Miami and Ritz Carlton, Coconut Grove. The list of 179 top hotels, which appears in the January issue, was based on feedback from 32,000 subscribers.