BEAMING OVER BEAM: Originally, builders were to have been putting the final touches on the Miami Performing Arts Center this month. Instead, they will be hoisting the last steel beam of the center's skeleton. It took more than 21/2 years to get the steel frame of the massive concert halls spanning Biscayne Boulevard in place. The arts center trust will have a special ceremony at noon March 26, when those involved will get to sign the beam. The center is to open in October 2006, officials said Tuesday - two years later than expected.
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BIG RAISE: Miami commissioners today (3/11) are to consider increasing contract limits with design firm Zyscovich Inc. from a maximum of $300,000 to $2.25 million for work on a cultural center and park in Little Haiti. The Miami firm led by architect Bernard Zyscovich was selected for the project by bid in January 2003.
BRANCHING OUT: U.S. Century Bank opened its fourth branch Monday, at 1100 E. Fourth Ave. in Hialeah. Two of the bank's four branches are in the Hialeah area. The bank plans three more branches this year in Miami-Dade County - at Coral Way and Southwest 138th Avenue, at 18590 NW 67th Ave. and at 2400 NW 87th Ave. Maggie Cueto will be vice president and branch manager of the new Hialeah office.
CREATIVE NAME CHANGE: The Culture Committee of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce has just been renamed the Creative Industries Committee, Chairwoman Shelly Spivack said at a chamber trustees lunch last week. The reason? "We're an industry, just like everybody else. ... 'Culture' and 'chamber' really don't go well together."
ECONOMIC ENGINE: The Miami Performing Arts Center has raised $54 million of its $80 million goal, is halfway through construction, will open before the end of 2006 and is driving a condo construction boom from 36th street south to the Miami River and from Overtown to Biscayne Bay, Michael C. Hardy, its CEO, said at a Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce trustees lunch last week. "It's already the engine that is driving development and creating thousands of new jobs in Miami. ... It's going to put Miami even more on the map than it is."
ISLAND HAGGLING: Miami and Florida officials keep negotiating what share of revenues the state should get for allowing commercial development on city-owned Watson Island. As of Tuesday, the state is asking for 15% of profits from a proposed $281 million retail-hotel-marina project called Island Gardens, according to the Department of Environmental Protection, which also wants more changes to the public offerings proposed by the developer. Without state permission, the project can't break ground.
AVIATION CENTER: Chalk's Ocean Airways owner Jim Confalone said he's to meet with Miami city officials Friday to look at four proposals to revive a Watson Island aviation center project that fell apart after the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau pulled out of plans last year. The latest proposal has been drafted by consulting firm Kimley-Horn and Associates. The site on the northwest tip of Watson Island has also been pitched as home base for the Free Trade Area of the Americas, but Mr. Confalone said that proposal isn't among the four. If the center doesn't progress, Chalk's is required to construct a structure as part of its lease with the city.
INCREDIBLE BUY: The former Incredible Universe site in Airport West sold Friday for $12.5 million. The 27-acre property at Northwest 25th Street and the Palmetto Expressway includes three parcels, a lake and an 180,000-square-foot building formerly used by Radio Shack Corp. as a retail store. Sellers were Palmetto Miami Co. LLC and Jersey Palmetto LLC. The buyer was Universe 2004 LLC. Ernesto Casal of Alliance Companies brokered the deal.
FILM/VIDEO/TV FOCUS: The International Roundtable will focus on growing international ties for our film, video and television industries at 5 p.m. today (3/11) at The Collection, Bird Road and Ponce de Leon Boulevard, Coral Gables. Panelists are Robert S. Berkowitz, president, Multivision Video and Film; Jeff Peel, director, Miami-Dade County Mayor's Office of Film & Entertainment; Richard Warren Rappaport, partner in Adorno & Yoss specializing in entertainment law; and Angel Zambrano, executive director of programming at Claxson. A cocktail reception with a fashion showcase will follow. Sponsors are Miami Today, The Collection, Claxson, Formenti and Dewar's 12. Admission is free. Reservations: Claudia Fernandez, (305) 358-2663.
RAIL-ROADED: Despite delays for Tri-Rail riders because a second set of rails is being laid beside the existing line, ridership hit a 10-year high last month. An average 10,000 a day rode the train Mondays through Fridays. Regional Transportation Authority Director Joe Giulietti said the increase isn't due to added marketing but a reflection of frustrations with South Florida roads. He said the past few months have been plagued with delays and passengers often have had to switch from the train to a bus because parts of the line are closed. "Passenger numbers are going up with all this chaos," he said. "Now is not the time to bring people onto a system that is running at 80% performance capacity ... but it is going up because of the need down here."
RENTAL COMPLEX SALES SOAR: South Florida apartment-complex sales hit $1.84 billion last year - 41% more than in 2002, according to Cushman & Wakefield's multifamily report released March 3. The report, which covers properties with 100 or more apartments, said apartment development is declining due to land scarcity. The report said condo conversion - the refurbishment of apartment complexes into units for sale - was the "most notable trend" in the region's multifamily housing. In the third quarter, about 2,400 apartments were planned in Miami-Dade County, compared to about 7,700 condos. Low interest rates and higher returns on condo sales account for the trend.
APARTMENTS RISING: Cornerstone Group officials say they are building a 240-apartment development for $22 million at 1600 NW 119th St. Alhambra Cove Apartments is to open in October with 11 low-rise buildings on 14.5 acres. Monthly rents for apartments are planned to be $552 to $754. Alliance Construction is the contractor and Mouriz Salazar & Associates is the architect.
INDIA JOINS IN: The India-US Chamber of Commerce Inc. has joined the Association of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce in Florida, an umbrella group of chambers that work to create business opportunities between the US and their home countries. The Indian chamber, headed by garment designer and importer Madhu Mehta, brought association membership to 40 organizations and about 8,000 individuals that do business in 130 countries. Details: (305) 365-7247.
ARGATE GETS FINANCING: Union Bank has issued a $7.06 million loan to Market Square Associates, a subsidiary of Brickell-based Argate Properties. The money is to go toward buying land for Market Square Phase II, a 65,000-square-foot retail development in Fort Myers.
COMPLIANCE CONTRACT: Miami software company Zequel Technologies signed a major contract last week with nationwide real estate lender NovaStar Financial to help NovaStar comply with new government regulations. Zequel will tailor software for the Missouri company to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which requires companies to develop procedures for employee complaints regarding auditing and accounting practices.
COLD TALK: Under the banner "Major Events in the History of Life," Laurel Collins, associate professor of paleontology at FIU, is to speak on the effects of such events as the Ice Age on the development and evolution of life at 7:30 tonight (3/11) in the Miami Science Museum, 3280 S. Miami Ave. Before joining FIU, Mr. Collins was with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City, Panama. Cost is $10. Wine and cheese will be served from 7 p.m. Details: (305) 773-8408.