HOME SALES SOAR: Florida homeowners sold 14% more single-family residences last year than they did the previous year and got an average 12% more for their homes, statistics from the Florida Association of Realtors show. According to the association, 14,934 existing single-family homes changed hands statewide last year, up from 13,071 in 2002. The average selling price hit $174,100 in 2003, up from $155,900. Miami's market showed an 8% increase in sales and a 33% rise in prices, while Fort Lauderdale sales grew 1% and prices improved 15%. Realtors say low interest rates, a stronger job market and increased consumer confidence accounted for the sales boost.
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SPAM TALK: Industry experts will examine how one of the area's largest technology industries will be affected by a new federal anti-spamming law at the South Florida Technology Alliance's gathering today (1/29). A regulation that limits mass e-mail ads could slam the region's electronic marketing firms but may aid businesses on the receiving end of electronic messages. The alliance estimates mass e-mails cost companies $9 billion a year and account for 50% of e-mails. The 5:30 p.m. session will be at Florida International University's Kovens Conference Center, 3000 NE 151st St.
TRUST ALLIANCE: The newly created Coral Gables Trust Co. announced plans to work with New York investment firm Brown Brothers Harriman. The firm, which manages more than $48 billion, will provide fixed-income management services to the trust company among other services. Coral Gables Trust, which is awaiting approval from state regulators, plans to serve clients investing $500,000 and more.
AVIATION SECURITY: Aviation industry experts are to hold their annual conference here to discuss changes in security, aviation insurance and registration and Federal Aviation Administration policies. The session is set for Monday and Tuesday at Eden Roc Renaissance Resort and Spa in Miami Beach. Speakers will include aviation attorneys, Federal Aviation Authority officials and a representative from the US Department of Justice. To register: Strategic Research Institute, (866) 666-8514.
FUNDS ROLL IN: Of the $53.6 million pledged to the Performing Arts Center of Greater Miami, 72% has been collected in cash since fundraising started in 1994, said Performing Arts Center Foundation Executive Director Nancy Herstand. By the center's first year in operation, officials expect to have raised $81 million, which will pay back Miami-Dade County for some construction costs and establish an endowment. The center is expected to open in late 2005.
LOST AND SOLD: If you lost something at Miami International Airport but never found it, chances are it will be up for grabs at the airport's public auction this weekend. Lost jewelry, toys, cameras, luggage and more will be sold as is to the highest bidder Saturday at 5600 NW 36th St. The auction starts at 8:30 a.m. Admission is $3.
$1 BILLION DEAL: Miami-based Lennar Corp. and its spinoff LNR Property Corp. announced Tuesday that they had completed a joint acquisition of The Newall Land and Farming Co., a purchase valued at approximately $1 billion. Lennar is one of the nation's largest homebuilders. Newall's primary activities are planning the communities of Valencia and Newhall Ranch on Newhall Land's 34,000 acres 30 miles north of Los Angeles.
INSIDE STORY: Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport spokesman Jim Reynolds got a sneak peak at Miami International Airport's $4.8 billion worth of improvements Monday as he attended the airport's media day. Mr. Reynolds got exclusive access to the airport's construction projects, which are mostly out of the public's view, during a media-only bus tour. He said he was impressed with what he saw.
AIRPORT CLEANUP: During the process of expanding Miami International Airport, aviation officials have undertaken a massive water and soil cleanup. More than 100,000 gallons of oil and petroleum were removed from 5 billion gallons of surface water on the airport property, 200 underground fuel tanks were extracted and 1 billion tons of contaminated soil have been removed.
NEW CHAMPIONS: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 18 is to induct Ray Hudson, Jim Kelly and David Sime into the Hall of Champions at its 15th annual event at American Airlines Arena. The presentation will also honor the World Series champion Florida Marlins and give a lifetime achievement award to Florida Marlins Hispanic Broadcasting Announcer Felo Ramirez. Tickets are $150. Details (305) 577-5432.
HISTORY TOURS: In honor of Black History Month, Miami-Dade Transit will offer free guided tours through the county's historically black neighborhoods featuring significant landmarks in the civil-rights movement. The three-hour tours each Saturday in February will run at 9, 9:30 and 10 a.m. Buses from the Stephen P. Clark Government Center, 111 NW First St., will travel through Coconut Grove, Overtown, Liberty City, Brownsville and Allapattah. To reserve: Miami-Dade Transit, (305) 654-6545.
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.
ON THE AIR: The Western Hemisphere's air force commanders were at Homestead Air Reserve Base this week for a conference on logistics and cooperation among air forces throughout the Americas. Homestead's 482nd Fighter Wing hosted the three-day conference Sunday through Wednesday. The Homestead base has been trying to improve its profile as another round of military base closures approaches next year.
FLOOD CONTROL: Gov. Jeb Bush is due in town this weekend to check out progress on Miami-Dade County's flood-prevention improvements. The first phase of an emergency water-detention area has been finished, and work is to start on final phases this weekend. When finished, the area in southwest Miami-Dade will have 450 acre-feet of storm-water storage to control flooding during hurricanes. Gov. Bush and other elected officials are to dedicate the facility at 10:30 a.m. Friday. A shuttle will leave the Walgreens store at 13698 SW Eighth St. at 10 a.m. to take attendees to the site.
UNFILTERED ART: Put $5 into a cigarette machine at Florida International University's art museum, and instead of pack of Marlboros, you'll get a work of art. The vintage cigarette machine, coming to the university's Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum on Friday, is a new spin on selling art. Consumers can purchase original artwork for the price of a pack of cigarettes. Similar vending machines are in use at 49 other museums. Artists who sell their miniature sculptures, paintings and photos get a 50% cut of sales.
AIRPORT JOBS: Miami International Airport's $4.8 billion expansion program is expected to employ an average 3,940 people a year in construction and manufacturing over the program's 17 years. This year, which will be the peak of construction, the project is to employ 9,840 as the airport spends $2 million a day on construction, according to airport officials.
CORRECTION: Alan Ojeda heads the Rilea Group. The company's name was listed incorrectly last week.