GREEN LIGHT FOR BLUE: Construction is under way on a 330-unit, $110 million luxury high-rise condominium near the eastbound entrance of the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami's Design District. Officials for Madison Capital Group, the financial group representing developer Hyperion Development Group, said the 36-story Arquitectonica-designed tower to be named Blue will feature blue-tinted floor-to-ceiling windows, doors and glass balconies. Condos are to start at $300,000 and be ready for occupancy in December 2005.
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PRICE INDEX RISES: The Consumer Price Index for the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area rose 2.1% for the year ending Dec. 31, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week. The increase was higher than the 1.9% recorded nationally for all urban areas, but the cost of living in South Florida remained below average. A cluster of goods that would have cost $100 two decades ago now costs $181.60 in South Florida but $184.30 nationally, the bureau reported.
INTERVAL INTERNATIONAL STAYING: The global vacation time-share company Interval International will renew a $1.4 million, 5-year lease at the Airport Lakes Industrial Center, according to real estate advisor Ron Berger of CB Richard Ellis. The company uses the 38,646-square-foot space for mailing and printing. "We were so happy to continue the deal," Mr. Berger said Tuesday. Interval International has been at the 9240 NW 12th St. location for eight years. JDRP Associates No. 3 is the landlord.
PLANNERS HIT THE ROAD: The South Florida Regional Planning Council, a public policy and planning agency serving Miami-Dade, Monroe and Broward counties, will host a discussion on the "future of the region" Feb. 2 at Florida International University's Roz and Cal Kovens Conference Center, 3000 NE 151st St., North Miami. The 19-member board works to improve technical assistance in transportation, economic development, geographic information services, human services, affordable housing, emergency preparedness and land use and natural resource planning. The board, based in Hollywood, is planning three other traveling meetings through the region. Details: (954) 985-4416.
PRESSING BUSINESS: The Miami Beach Convention Center will host the annual printing and publishing tradeshow Graphics of the Americas Jan. 22-25. The show will feature companies from the US, Mexico, South America, Central America and the Caribbean. Officials expect 500 exhibitors and 22,000 visitors. Details: (407) 785-0040.
METRORAIL EXPANSION ROLLING: Miami-Dade Transit is soliciting engineering bids to extend Metrorail along US 1 from its current end at the Dadeland South station south to Florida City. Applications for the three-year contract are due at noon Feb. 13 to the county's procurement department. Consultants have until Jan. 23 to bid for design and engineering on an east-west corridor to extend Metrorail east to Port of Miami and west to Florida International University. Details: (305) 375-5289.
SPOKESMAN SEPARATED: Former City of Miami spokesman Carlos McDonald will receive severance pay through Jan. 29. The city replaced him Nov. 3 with Janet Lopez, formerly a spokeswoman for Miami Beach, and then transferred him to work connected to the Free Trade Area of the Americas meetings among officials from 34 nations, according to Rosalie Mark, city director of employee relations. Mr. McDonald was given a "notice of separation" by the city manager's office, said Ms. Mark, who could not comment on the reason. City Manager Joe Arriola was out of town Tuesday and could not be reached.
ETHICS ISSUE: The Miami-Dade County Ethics Commission has asked to review documents from the Nov. 4 election campaign that Mr. McDonald worked on while he was communications director, according to Ms. Lopez. That campaign included three questions that all passed: raising city commissioners' salaries, extending the lease for the Rusty Pelican restaurant on Virginia Key and extending a city parking surcharge at a lower rate.
MEDICAL CONDO: Pan American Cos. and Kenneth Weston & Associates plan a five-story, 75-000-square-foot office condo, Pavilion at Doral, for medical use at Doral Boulevard and Northwest 82nd Avenue. Pan American President Carlos Lopez Cantera said groundbreaking is planned for summer. Vice President Stephen Blumenthal said his firm partnered with Weston because it is an expert in medical office condos. "We knew there was a need for a medical building in the Doral area," said Kenneth Weston for Weston & Associates. "Office ownership is the fastest-growing area of commercial real estate in South Florida." He said lower interest rates and a desire to diversify portfolios are fueling the trend.
LOWE SETS FUND GOAL: The University of Miami's Lowe Art Museum is working with the university's overall fundraising campaign, Miami's Momentum, to raise $5.5 million for the museum. The money would help establish endowments for curatorial collections, education exhibition and art acquisition. The museum's 13,000 pieces of art include European and American paintings, and Asian, African, Native American and Ancient American art. "Our goal is to enrich and expand our programming," museum Director Brian Dursum said. Details: www.lowemuseum.org.
COUNTY VET TO RETIRE: In preparation for the retirement of Director of the Office of Strategic Business Management David Morris, Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess has appointed Jennifer Glazer-Moon director designate. Ms. Glazer-Moon worked for the county before leaving in 2002 to become director of administrative services for the 11th Judicial Circuit. Mr. Morris will be eligible for retirement in 2005 after 29 years with the county. After his retirement, Ms. Glazer-Moon will oversee the county's $5 billion budget.
INVESTMENT FOCUS: Experts panelists will look at trends in global real estate development and investment in Miami at a Jan. 29 breakfast session of Miami Today's International Roundtable. Panelists include Teresa Blanca de Ulloa, Cushman & Wakefield's senior managing director for South Florida; developer Alan Ojeda of the Ojeda Group; analyst David Dabby of the Dabby Group, and partner Alan Lips of Gerson, Preston, Robinson & Co., accountants. The 7:45 a.m. session, sponsored by BankUnited, will be in the lobby at the bank's Brickell Avenue offices, 1111 Brickell Ave. Reservations: Claudia Fernandez, (305) 358-2663.
BUILDING BRIDGES: The United Way of Miami-Dade hosted a three-day exchange program with a delegation of 25 women leaders from the United Way of Jamaica led by US Ambassador to Jamaica Sue Cobb. The women were in town Jan. 12-14 before returning to Kingston. In November, a team of 18 women from Miami traveled to Jamaica for three days. Sixty women in all participated last week in the exchange of ideas and experiences in volunteerism, philanthropy, early childhood education and health, including a trip to the Overtown YMCA and Goodwill Industries in Allapattah.
PORTS' STATUS: The heads of Miami-Dade County's ports will host a discussion of the past year's business and future plans. Miami-Dade Aviation Director Angela Gittens will speak on the state of Miami International Airport and the county's four smaller airfields, and Port of Miami Director Chuck Towsley will speak on the seaport. The event will begin at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 4 at Radisson Mart Plaza Hotel. Participants must RSVP to (305) 871-7910 by Jan. 30. Admission is $40 - $30 for World Trade Center Miami members.
GABLES PROPERTY SOLD: Equity Residential of Chicago, the largest publicly traded apartment owner and operator, has purchased Gables Grand Plaza from Prudential Real Estate Investments for an undisclosed sum. Gables Grand is an eight-story plaza in downtown Coral Gables that features 195 Class A apartments and retail tenants including Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and Kreiss Collection Furniture. Holliday Fenoglio Fowler represented Prudential in the deal.
OFFICE MOVING: Barthco International Inc. is moving its office from 11350 NW 25th St. to a 15,000-square-foot building at 1825 NW 87th St. Officials say they hope the new location, 2 miles from Miami International Airport and 10 miles from Port of Miami, will place it at the hub of the import and export industries. "It puts us in position to meet the ever-growing demands of the Miami market," Senior Vice President Robert Chin Quee said. Barthco has 20 offices in the US and one in Hong Kong.