Written by Miami Today on April 1, 2004
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MOVING TARGET: Friday’s meeting of the Organization of American States has been moved from the Biltmore Hotel to Omni Colonnade Hotel, 180 Aragon Ave. The meeting is to be the first of about 18 set for Coral Gables in the next two years for talks between South Florida business leaders and OAS officials. The city’s business development administrator, Stephen Albee, said more than 100 executives have said they will attend. The 35 member countries of the Washington-based organization focus on several issues including free trade.
TRANSPORTATION AID: Miami-Dade County is lobbying for $30 million from Congress for next year to move on projects promised to voters when they passed a half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements in 2002. Congress is setting transportation funding for the next six years. A funding bill was to have passed in September, but the deadline was extended to April 30. County Surface Transportation Manager Carlos Bonzon said that while Miami-Dade is competitive for funds because of the tax, politics still play a key role in federal appropriations. Over the 30-year life of the voter-approved plan, the county expects to lobby for billions more to add 88 miles to Metrorail by 2031 and millions of passenger miles in bus service.
HIRED: The Miami City Commission hired Ronald Book as its state government lobbyist Thursday for $440,000 for one year and options for four one-year renewals.
RAISED: An extra $500,000 was kicked in for Orange Bowl repairs by the Miami City Commission to prep the aging stadium for the University of Miami’s football season. The money will be used to repair 15 of 40 supports on the north side that are deteriorating and replace four ramps that lead from the ground to the concession concourse and are suffering from severe damage. The increase bumps construction costs from $1.9 million to $2.4 million. In July, the city deemed repairs an emergency, and Miami-based Professional General Contractors Inc. was awarded the job after commissioners waived the bid process.
DELAYED: Miami city commissioners last week put off a final vote on a proposed noise ordinance. Among proposed regulations are a prohibition on construction before 6 a.m. and after 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, before 8 a.m. and after 6 p.m. Saturday and at all times Sunday and holidays. Also taken off the agenda was the purchase of land to create a park in Little Haiti.
MAKE THAT TWO: Months after launching a high-rise condo east of Biscayne Boulevard, BAP-GGM Development plans a similar project blocks away. The partnership of BAP Development and GGM Developers plans the 122-condo Onyx 2 on 1.5 acres at Northeast 28th Street it is buying for an undisclosed sum from Intrepid Realty. The team expects to close on the purchase April 15 with financing from Pointe Bank. BAP-GGM did not reveal development costs and has no construction start date for Onyx 2. It launched Onyx on the Bay on Northeast 25th Street in November and intends to start building it by the last quarter of this year.
LOFTY GOALS: Coral Gables architectural and engineering firm BEA International is set to design Stone Street Development’s $2.5 million Trilogy Lofts. The deal will see BEA design a 160,000-square-foot building with three interconnected towers and plan the layout of most of the lofts. Construction is expected to start by June 2006 on the 70-unit lofts project set for 8699 Biscayne Blvd.
RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT: A $1 billion public-private venture expects to create a residential community featuring parks, recreation, dining and thousands of apartments on the site of a former North Miami landfill, according to marketers. Swerdlow Boca Development Co. said it negotiated a 200-year ground lease for a 193-acre undeveloped site on which it intends to create Biscayne Landing. The company plans about 4,800 apartments, a 35-acre park, a 100,000-square-foot town center that features restaurants and retail and a 5-acre hotel and conference center. It also intends to build a charter school across from the property, develop 5,000 units of affordable housing in the city and plus build a library and Olympics training center.
LONGEST PLANE: Miami International Airport is adding service on what is billed as the world’s longest airplane. Virgin Atlantic Airways will begin three weekly flights from Miami to London on the 246-foot Airbus A340-600. The plane holds 380 passengers for a trip of 7,500 nautical miles. Iberia Airlines also flies the Airbus A340-600 to Miami.
ORIENT EXPRESS: Aviation officials are exploring the Asian market, with a trip to Japan due in May, said Chris Mangos, Miami-Dade County Aviation Department marketing manager. Last month, a Miami International Airport representative traveled to Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai. Next spring, exploratory excursions are planned for Taiwan and South Korea to pursue service development. Only a cargo service that runs four times a week to Taiwan connects the airport to that side of the globe, Mr. Mangos said Monday.
SILVER ANNIVERSARY: El Salvador President Francisco Flores and Gov. Jeb Bush will speak at the 25th Hemispheric Congress of Latin Chambers of Commerce and Industries, CAMACOL’s annual convention that promotes trade throughout the Americas, said William Alexander, president and chairman of the Latin Chamber of Commerce of the United States. The event April 14-17 at Radisson Mart Plaza Hotel near Miami International Airport is to include the signing of three international sister seaport agreements between Miami-Dade County and Nicaragua, Belize and San Andreas, a Colombian island.
PR GURU: Former New York publicist David Granoff has taken on the mantle of PR manager for Dania Beach-based Design Center of the Americas, known as DCOTA. "I consider this my newest star," he said last week. It’s his first dive into the corporate world working for somebody other than himself. Less than six months ago, he traded his West 57th Street address in Manhattan for one on South Beach.
STARBUCKS IN THE PARK: Bayfront Park officials met with representatives of coffee retailer Starbucks last week to devise a way to offer park goers a proper caffeine jolt. Timothy Schmand, executive director of the park trust, said the Seattle beverage maker has a vehicle used to hawk its wares that’s available weekdays. Look for temporary operations, and some table and chairs, near the war memorial in the coming weeks, he said.
PROJECT GRANTS AVAILABLE: The City of Miami is inviting non-profit groups to apply for grants from a pool of more than $7 million for community improvement projects. Under its Community Development Block Grant, the city is making available nearly $1.5 million for public-service programs, $3 million for economic development and about $2.5 million for housing project management support. A pre-proposal workshop is scheduled for 10 a.m. April 8 at Manuel Artime Theater, 900 SW First Ave. Deadline to apply is April 30. Documents are available at department offices, 444 SW Second Ave., or from Client Services at 1313 NW 36th St. Forms are available at www.ci.miami.fl.us/communitydevelopment. Details: (305) 416-1927.
CARIBBEAN TIES: The International Roundtable’s April 15 session will examine how the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas could affect relationships between Miami and the Caribbean. Panelists are Ricardo Allicock, consul general of Jamaica; Harold Robertson, consul general of Trinidad and Tobago; Anthony T. Bryan, senior associate at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington; and Gilbert Lee Sandler, senior partner at Sandler Travis & Rosenberg PA. The free program, sponsored by Miami Today and the JW Marriott Hotel, will be at the hotel, 1109 Brickell Ave., fifth floor, at 5 p.m. Details: Claudia Fernandez, (305) 358-1008.
PRICE CHANGE: The price of a single copy of Miami Today this week rises to $2. It is the first cover-price increase since 1988.