Written by Miami Today on February 12, 2004
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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PORT CUSTOMIZING: With cargo and security regulations at the Port of Miami being tightened, the US Customs and Border Patrol will expand its operations at the port. The county plans to rent an additional 20,700 square feet and 74 parking spaces to Customs for $28.70 a square foot, totaling $595,000 a year for five years. In exchange, the county will invest $616,000 in improvements to the office space.
MORE SPACE: Airport Corporate Center leased 280,000 of its 1 million square feet last year, dropping the building’s vacancy rate to 14% from about 50% at the start of the year. At the end of 2002, the building near Miami International Airport had leased 580,000 square feet of office and warehouse space. According to figures from CB Richard Ellis, the overall vacancy rate in the Airport West market is 18.4%.
CENTER SUPPORT: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Governors voted unanimously last week to ask the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners to find funds to expand the Miami Beach Convention Center. Carefully ducking the issue of whether funding priority should be for a baseball stadium or the center, the chamber vote asked commissioners "that in the event (Convention Development Tax) revenues are not sufficient to fund the expansion … Miami-Dade County shall provide such alternative source of funding for the expansion." Commissioners have set aside $73 million for a baseball stadium using Convention Development Tax funds. The convention center "does more to generate Convention Development Tax than any other facility in this county by far," former Beach mayor Neisen Kasdin told the chamber in seeking support for the resolution. The $50 million expansion plan would add a 50,000-square-foot ballroom, a covered exhibition area and a parking structure.
HELP WANTED: The City of Miami needs "experienced and trustworthy contractors" to finish ongoing home-rehabilitation projects, says Barbara Gomez-Rodriguez, director of community development. The call is for general contractors that specialize in electrical, plumbing and roofing work to do home improvements in the city’s Single Family Rehabilitation Program, which provides homeowners loans of up to $30,000. Contractors can find applications at www.ci.miami.fl.us/communitydevelopment; at the Department of Community Development, 444 SW 2nd Ave., Second Floor; or the City of Miami Housing Division office, 1313 NW 36th St., Second Floor. Details: (305) 693-3120.
HEALTHY IDEAS: Telling the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce that "our health-care industry is in crisis," Robert I. Lufrano last week offered consumers three action steps in his first public speech since becoming CEO and chairman of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida on Feb. 1. He suggested that consumers become better-informed, adopt healthy lifestyles and look at efforts to make health insurance a pre-income-tax rather than post-tax expense. He did not elaborate on the final point but noted that at its present rate of increase, health-care costs for small businesses will double in five years and quadruple in 15 years.
UNEMPLOYMENT SHRINKS: South Florida unemployment rates continued to fall in December, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week. The Miami area’s unemployment rate fell to 6.1% from 6.7% in November and 7.0% in December 2002. Fort Lauderdale-area unemployment fell to 4.7% from 5.3% in November and 5.5% in December 2002. For Florida as a whole, unemployment in December was 4.4%, down from 4.9% in November and 5.0% in December 2002.
WEST COAST JOB BONANZA: The Sarasota-Bradenton area led the nation in job-growth percentage in December, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week. The area added 15,800 jobs in 12 months, a 5.7% job growth. That was the fastest pace in the nation and sixth-largest total job growth. Orlando was fifth in total job growth, adding 23,200 jobs in a year.
REALTY STUDY ON LINE: Candidates for the state’s prerequisite course for real estate licensing can now do the program online, according to the Florida Real Estate School. The Miami institution says it is the first to offer the pre-license course via the Internet since a Feb.9 change to state rules, which until this month required students to have face-to-face interaction with instructors. Last year, 55,191 candidates applied for the associate license, which permits them to sell real estate in Florida. Details: www.floridarealestateschool.com.
ARTS AT THE ZOO: Although the Performing Arts Center of Greater Miami is at least two years from opening, that isn’t stopping the center’s trust from spreading the arts. The Performing Arts Center Trust will sponsor performances at Miami Metrozoo each weekend through May 23. Saturdays, the arts center-produced Flying Squad will put on shows throughout the zoo, and Sundays, Asian cultural performances will take place at the Asian bird exhibit. The center also will launch a six-week program March 15 in which children can learn to use stilts. Details: (305) 372-7611.
HOUSING HUDDLE: Realtors, attorneys, former Miami Beach Mayor Neisen Kasdin and other participants in South Florida’s multifamily housing market will meet to discuss the sector’s financing, demographic trends and development issues. Industry analyst and researcher Michael Cannon will moderate a market-overview session. The half-day meeting hosted by the Urban Land Institute begins at 7:30 a.m. Feb. 24 at Wyndham Fort Lauderdale Airport Hotel. Details: (954) 522-0570.
REAL-LIFE LESSON: Learn the do’s and don’ts of starting a business by learning from the mistakes of others. A new technology company will present its product to a panel of experts Feb. 19 at Nova Southeastern Business School. The experts will critique the company and give advice about understanding the market and creating a business model. Networking will start at 6 p.m., and the presentation and panel discussion will run 7-8:30 p.m. Pre-register for $20 at www.mitforumfl.org or $25 at the door.
CITY TRUSTS ARRIOLA: The Performing Arts Center Trust of Greater Miami, which will run the center once it opens, has a new member. The Miami City Commission appointed J. Ricky Arriola, son of Miami City Manager Joe Arriola, to one of three commission-appointed seats on the board. Ricky Arriola has a master’s degree from Harvard Business School and is president of printing and graphic company Inktel Direct.
GABLES SPACE: Saying the project represents the first new Class A office space in Coral Gables in more than 15 years, leasing agency Holly Real Estate said it is ready to sign tenants for Starwood Urban’s 55 Miracle Mile, a mixed-use project with 28,000 square feet of office space. "We anticipate that space in this complex will go quickly" due to ongoing demand, which has been strong "even in a bad economy," said William Holly of Holly Real Estate. He said the building, which will offer in excess of three parking spaces per 1,000 square feet, "is the first Class A office property in Coral Gables connected to luxury apartments" and will house retail and restaurant establishments. Details: (305) 777-0300.
FAMILY MAN: Jerry Haar, former senior research associate for the University of Miami’s Dante B. Fascell North-South Center, has been named director and senior research fellow of the Global Entrepreneurship Center’s Institute of Family Business at Florida International University. Mr. Haar has also accepted a professorship in the department of management and international business at FIU’s College of Business Administration.