Written by Miami Today on January 15, 2004
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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TAX RETURNS: The Florida Legislature will probably preserve two special tax-incentive programs nearing expiration, said Susanne Darna, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development. A Senate bill has been prefiled to continue the Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund, which would have ended June 30. A proposal to maintain the Enterprise Zone program will probably be addressed next year. That legislation will sunset in December 2005, said Ms. Darna. Both are still important for state efforts to diversify the economy and attract business.
BACK TO COUNTY BUSINESS: The Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners will convene Jan. 20 after its holiday recess. At their first meeting of the year, commissioners will be asked to approve city budgets and cultural grants and hear status reports on several projects – such as a transfer of land from the US Air Force to the county at the former Homestead Air Force Base. The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. in commission chambers, 111 NW First St.
HOUSING GRANT: The Miami-Dade Affordable Housing Foundation received a $20,000 grant from Citigroup companies this week to help low-income families buy a home. The grant will match people’s savings dollar-for-dollar up to $3,000 toward a home mortgage as well as fund outreach and financial counseling. The grant money comes from donations by Citibank, Smith Barney, CitiFinancial, Travelers Life and Annuity, Primerica Financial Services and Banamex.
PALMETTO MAKEOVER: For the next two years, commuters will see Palmetto Expressway (State Road 826) being transformed into a wider, more accessible highway. Work started this month and is to end in summer 2006. When complete, the Palmetto will have an added lane in each direction from Northwest 31st to 56th avenues, reconstructed bridges and new partial cloverleaf interchanges. Northwest 36th Street also will be widened between Northwest 74th and 79th avenues. Commuters should expect lane shifts and closures at night. The project will cost $37 million, $1 million less than it cost to build the expressway in the 1960s.
BANK GRANT: Ocean Bank says it will donate $1 million to Florida International University’s College of Business Administration. The money will go toward construction of an auditorium in a planned building complex. Fifty Ocean Bank employees, all FIU graduates, are to accompany bank CEO Jose Conception and Vice President Rolando Bichara to the check presentation today (1/15).
SIAMESE STADIUMS: If Miami’s pitch to connect a baseball stadium to the Orange Bowl comes to pass, the twin facilities should be under the control of the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority, Mayor Manny Diaz said last week. There is a $375 million proposal to build an open-roof ballpark for the Florida Marlins and renovate the older football stadium. Estimates for fixing up the Orange Bowl range from $110 million to $130 million, while other proposals for a stadium start at $325 million exclusive of land costs.
RETURN TO MIAMI: Davie-based Weitzer Communities announced a March groundbreaking for an eight-story condominium, Valencia Grande, at 650 Valencia Ave., Coral Gables. It’s the company’s first mid-rise condo in Miami-Dade and Weitzer’s first project in the county since developers Harry Weitzer and Jim Rosewater took the 35-year-old company private in 1999. Mr. Rosewater said Valencia Grande would have 28 units from 1,831 to 2,283 square feet and two $1 million 2,727-square-foot, three-story villas with 482-square-foot, two-car garages. He said pre-construction prices range from $579,990 to $899,990. "We couldn’t have chosen a better location," Mr. Rosewater said, "for our re-entry into the Miami-Dade County marketplace." The completion date, he said, is "to be determined." Miami’s Revuelta Vega Leon is the architect. A general contractor has yet to be named. Weitzer plans to open a sales center at 1940 Ponce de Leon Blvd. Details: (786) 552-0065 or valenciagrande.com.
AIRPORT HOTEL EXPANDS: Coastal Construction Group this week broke ground on a 62,000-square-foot property for a 118-room addition that would almost double the size of Hotel InterContinental Miami Airport. The project includes a 9,000-square-foot ballroom and would bring the number of rooms at the six-story hotel to 266. Miami-based Hotel Company owns the nearly 4-year-old hotel at 2505 NW 87th Ave.
TRANSIT OVERSIGHT: Miami-Dade County’s transit planning board, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, will get its annual US Department of Transportation review next month to make sure it’s complying with federal transportation rules. The review will be Feb. 24-25 in the 12th floor conference room at 111 NW First St. Department of Transportation officials will also hear public feedback on the county’s transportation planning process during a 5 p.m. Feb. 25 workshop in the county commission chambers at the same site.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD: The Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce of Florida has appointed banker Eduardo Santos as its president for this year. Mr. Santos, director of Bank Leumi Le-Israel, will head the 22-year-old trade group. He has lived in Miami since 1970 and is a former chairman of the Florida International Bankers Association. Mr. Santos replaces Paulo Rocha, the first chamber president to serve a two-year term. The chamber, 600 Brickell Ave., Suite 300E, has 300 member organizations.
GABLES TOWER: Rosen-Auker Developments is planning a 17-story condominium called Puerta de Palmas on 1.6 acres next to Puerta del Sol archway and meeting hall, 800 Douglas Road, overlooking one of the original entrances to the City of Coral Gables. Rosen-Auker Principals Paul Rosen and Scott Auker said the project, at the northwest corner of Douglas Road and Calabria Avenue, will feature 198 condos, street-level lofts and townhomes ranging from 776 to 1,470 square feet and priced from the $200,000s to the $500,000s. They said they plan to break ground in spring. Details: (305) 443-8700 or puertadepalmas.com.
LEGAL MERGER: Law firms Akerman Senterfitt and Muller Mintz have merged. Akerman Senterfitt Chairman Thomas Caldwell said the merger produces resources "to handle labor and employment issues of clients no matter what the size or where the location." The new firm will have offices in Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Tallahassee and Fort Lauderdale and more than 400 attorneys.
NEW BANK BRANCH: Beach Bank of Miami Beach is to open its second branch today (1/15) in a temporary location at 6655 S Dixie Highway and plans a third by summer. The bank plans to move the new branch into its permanent home at 8099 S Dixie Highway in the summer and open a third branch at Fifth and Washington. Two additional branches are planned for Aventura and West Miami, but no dates have been specified for those. Beach Bank will open a West Miami operations center to house its back-office functions. The company is headquartered at 555 Arthur Godfrey Road.