Written by Miami Today on March 4, 2004
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NORTH-SOUTH ADVANCING: The University of Miami and California think tank RAND Corp. are weeks away from an agreement that would reopen the Dante B. Fascell North-South Center within two months, said UM Executive Vice President and Provost Luis Glaser. The mid-March deal would re-establish the 20-year-old research institution UM closed in December with the firing of North-South’s 13 staffers. Mr. Glaser said an agreement, postponed from February, would outline operations and specify roles for UM and RAND. No plans have been made to determine who will head the center, he said.
RETOOLING HOTEL DEAL: The county Aviation Department is "entertaining a private-public partnership" and revising its proposal to have a company refurbish and run Miami International Airport Hotel, spokeswoman Trenae Floyd said Tuesday. About 19 companies that studied the offer declined the deal. When it sought proposals last summer, the county required a developer to finance refurbishment of the 259-room hotel and operate at three-star quality or better. Sherwood Weiser, chairman and CEO of Continental Hospitality Holdings, said his company declined after spending $200,000 studying feasibility. He wrote Aviation Director Angela Gittens that the proposal created "insurmountable hurdles." Ms. Floyd said the county would consider feedback in reviewing its offer.
STILL SEARCHING: The Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust is back to Square 1 in its search for a financial adviser. The watchdog group followed Miami-Dade County minority hiring guidelines and limited its search to firms with no other county contracts but came up empty. The trust is looking for a consultant to help it oversee procurement and spending on transit expansion projects funded by a half-cent sales tax voters created in 2002. Only towing firms responded to the group’s first search and did not fit the trust’s needs, said member Michael Abrams. The group will return to county government and ask it to broaden the search. Chairman John Cosgrove said the trust might have a consultant by May.
LIFTOFF: Cargo and domestic traffic at Miami International Airport continues to improve, airport officials report. Cargo was up 6.3% during the quarter ended Dec. 31 from the same quarter a year earlier, with domestic cargo up 14.5% and international up 4.6%. Domestic passenger loads rose 2.6%, but international travel fell about 1%.
RETAIL REAL ESTATE BOOMS: Sales of multi-tenant retail sites last year climbed more than 47% in South Florida from 2002, hitting $1.2 billion, according to data released Friday by broker CB Richard Ellis, which predicts another good year in the sector. The jump was due to a 13.7% rise in space on the market and higher prices. The average square foot of retail space sold for 29.6% more than in 2002, reaching $123.15. Prices exceeded $150 per square foot in more than a fourth of the sales.
FLATTENED FOR PLATINUM: A rental building at 480 NE 30th St. in Miami was demolished last week, clearing the way to build the 22-story, 119-unit Platinum condominium tower. Miami-based Maysville Inc. and A.R. Development Group Inc., led by Alex Redondo, planned the $38 million Biscayne Bay tower as the first of three. Kamany Realty reports more than 65% of units sold. Completion is expected in fall 2005.
AVENTURA DEVELOPMENT: Partners Gilbert Benhamou of Apex Development Group and Claudio Stivelman of Planinvest Inc. said they raised $57.3 million from BankUnited in a final round of financing for the planned 216-unit Uptown Marina Lofts, 3029 NE 188th St., Aventura. Groundbreaking for the 11-story project, billed as Aventura’s "first and only luxury loft condominium development," is scheduled in May, with completion expected in winter 2005. Plans call for units from 1,000 to 1,800 square feet priced from $300,000 to $700,000. Fortune International is to market the property. Details: (305) 466-2600 or uptownmiami.com.
SELLING GABLES IN MIAMI: Boca Raton-based E.B. Developers announced the opening of a sales office at 3232 Coral Way to sell units in the 20-story Gables Marquis, billed as a luxury tower, to rise at that address. The development, designed by Cohen Freedman Encinosa & Associates Architects, has 177 residences from 792 to 2,460 square feet at preconstruction prices from the $180,000s to the $600,000s, said E.B. principal Elie Berdugo. In Miami-Dade County, EB Developers is also developing Promenade at Doral, described as "a garden-style condo community" with 770 residences. Details: (305) 461-0039 or gablesmarquis.com.
HONORED COMMUNICATORS: MSNBC talk-show host Chris Matthews and wife Kathleen Matthews, a Washington, DC, television news anchor, will be honored for achievements in communications by Barry University. The annual David Brinkley Award for Excellence in Communication will be presented at 9 a.m. Monday at 11300 NE Second Ave., Miami Shores. Details: Francisco Duque, (305) 899-3195. Mr. Matthews will also be at American Airlines Arena that evening discussing politics.
DESIGN DISTRICT DUO: The $27 million Dwell, the second Design District venture of Urbana Development within a year, is to create 140 condo lofts and 10,000 to 15,000 square feet of retail space, the company said. Units of 650 to 1,500 square feet are to sell for $175,000 to $300,000. Urbana paid $1.75 million for nine lots on 1.4 acres at 2110 N. Miami Ave. and will raze a one-story structure there that houses Diaz Towing. Construction on Dwell, a mid-rise, is to begin early in 2005 and be completed by mid-2006. At 90 NE 41st St., Urbana is to build Aria, a mixed-use project with 78 condos to sell for $200,000 to $800,000. A month before scheduled groundbreaking, it’s 60% sold.
TOWER STOP: Miami commissioners approved a permit for a 38-story office tower that includes a new Metromover station to replace the single-story Columbus Bazaar at 50 N. Biscayne Blvd. The $181.4 million tower would include 661,593 square feet of office space, 29,508 square feet of retail and a 1,260-space garage, according to city documents. The project would be the first foray into South Florida by multistate developer Cousins Properties Inc.