Written by Miami Today on February 26, 2004
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FREEDOM TOWER APPRAISAL: Miami-Dade County administrators are set to appraise the Freedom Tower as part of a process that could lead to the purchase of the 17-story building in downtown Miami that served Cuban immigrants in the 1950s and ’60s. Media relations manager Aimee Artiles confirmed that the appraisal is part of determining the feasibility of a sale of the 79-year-old tower, which would be converted to a museum operated by the Historical Museum of Southern Florida. The building, at 600 Biscayne Blvd. is owned by Freedom Tower Group Partners, who purchased it in 1997 for $4.1 million and spent $20 on restoration, according to spokeswoman Ofelia San Pedro. She said the property was appraised at $25 million at the end of 2002.
OAS MEETING RESCHEDULED: The first of several Organization of American States meetings in Coral Gables will be March 18 rather than this week, as planned. The session will allow 150 executives to discuss Latin American trade with OAS heads, local government leaders and regional experts. After Gables administrators announced the invitation-only event, 75 people signed up. Organizers say topics aren’t firm but the goal is to educate business on the role of the OAS, a Washington, DC-based group with 35 member nations. Gables Mayor Don Slesnick said the high-level talks bring the "right kind of attention" to the state’s bid to host the secretariat of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas. Details: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PALMETTO BAY ADDS TENANTS: Two leases have been signed at Palmetto Bay Village Center, former site of Burger King’s world headquarters. Gardner’s Market, a gourmet grocery, signed a 10-year lease for 21,000 square feet for its administrative offices. South Dade Rehab Inc. leased 23,016 square feet. The two leases and 13 letters of intent account for 140,000 of 305,000 square feet in the three buildings, according to listing agent Abood Wood-Fay Real Estate Group Inc. Developer Grouper Financial Inc. held town meetings to discuss plans for the property at Southwest 184th Street and Old Cutler Road. Suggestions include a city hall for the fledgling Village of Palmetto Bay, senior housing and parks.
MIAMI EYES LAND: Miami is considering seizing four sites to create a park in Little Haiti. City commissioners are to vote today (2/26) on a resolution to invoke eminent domain to take land at 212 NE 59th Terrace and 211, 215 and 225 NE 59th St., according to city records. A hearing is due today on property at 245 NE 59th St. that the city will consider buying for $100,000 from Thomas N. Yates and Keith M. Yates.
SWAN SONG: Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas is to discuss how the county has changed in the past year and what to expect in the future during his final State of the County address today (2/26). Remarks are likely to focus on transportation, health care and poverty. He is to speak at 11 a.m. at the University of Miami’s Gusman Concert Hall in Coral Gables. After eight years at the county’s helm, he will step down this fall.
BOARD MEMBER: Miami-Dade College President Eduardo Padron has been appointed to the American Association of Colleges and Universities board of directors. He has been a member of the association for several years and served on various commissions, but this is his first board seat. More than 900 college and universities belong to the group, which is dedicated to promoting liberal higher education.
STRAIGHT ARROW: Miami air cargo line Arrow Air’s $30 million debt was purchased Monday by Anthony Romeo, president and owner of aviation company Charter America. The purchase is an attempt to get the company out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, for which it filed in January. Mr. Romeo, who oversees a number of aviation-related companies in South Florida, plans to reorganize Arrow Air and develop a business plan for growth.
ARTS CENTER RESCHEDULING: Performing Arts Center of Greater Miami officials said this week that they expect to have a revised construction schedule by mid-March. The center’s completion has been delayed until 2006, but a more specific date is still under discussion. The Miami-Dade county commission, architect Cesar Pelli and Associates and the three construction companies building the center – Odebrecht Construction, Haskell Co. and EllisDon Construction – must agree on a revised schedule.
BUT CURTAIN IS RISING: A portion of the main curtain for the Performing Arts Center’s ballet-opera house will be on display at Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W. Flagler St. The design was to be unveiled Wednesday (2/25). New York artist Robert Rahway Zakanitch designed the curtain to reflect South Florida’s diversity and culture. It was commissioned by Miami-Dade Art in Public Places as one of the center’s five major pieces of art.
TWENTY-SEVEN ADDRESS: Gabriel Puche and Susana Puche, owners of B.B. Real Estate Ventures LLC in Miami, are proposing 181 residential units on 1.3 acres at Southwest 27th Avenue and 27th Court. Called Tower 27, the $32 million project would also offer retail just north of US 1 next to the Coconut Grove Metrorail station. Miami city commissioners are scheduled to discuss the issue today (2/26).
DEAL CHILLS: MLJ Holdings paid $2 million for a 31,800-square-foot warehouse in west Miami-Dade County where food distributor Webeco Foods will operate. The site, at 8225 NW 80th St., will house a 15,000-square-foot refrigerator. Webeco, currently in Miami, distributes imported dairy products. Ernesto Casal of Alliance Companies brokered the deal.
DEVELOPMENT SYMPOSIUM: The Knight Foundation will host a symposium March 22-23 to promote responsible development nationwide. The event, at Omni Colonnade in Coral Gables, will be part of the foundation’s Community Partners Program. Speakers will include foundation President Hodding Carter and University of Miami President Donna Shalala. Topics will include policy and community design in education, housing, economic and community development, civic engagement and cultural life. The Community Partners Program is based at the university’s architectural school. Details: www.arc.miami.edu/knight.
ROMANTIC WEEKEND: The Wolfsonian-FIU is offering A Very Wolfsonian Weekend Saturday and Sunday although the action is not at the museum. Downtown Miami’s historic Alfred I. Dupont Building, 169 E Flagler St., will be center stage Saturday for a 7 p.m. dinner and 10 p.m. late-night party under the banner "Prohibition." The evening has been crafted to "recapture the wild romance of the 1920s," say publicists. It will include casino games, dancing to the music of the Peter Duchin Orchestra and a gourmet meal by Le Basque. The late-night party includes an open bar, a dessert buffet and music. On Sunday, honorary event chair and architect Zaha Hadid will speak at noon in the Club Tropigala in Miami Beach ‘s Fontainebleau Hilton Hotel, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Costs are $20 for the presentation only, $75 for the party, $300 for dinner and $500 and $1,000 for the entire weekend, which includes brunch with Ms. Hadid. Details: (305) 535-2631 or www.wolfsonian.org.
WESTSIDE EAGLE: Eagle Bank leased 17,323 square feet of office space at Westside Plaza III, 8200 NW 33rd St., Miami, for 10 years and four months from Prudential Insurance.