Written by Miami Today on April 8, 2004
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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FREE QUARTERS: BankAtlantic is set to give away $1,825 in a statewide promotion, handing out newly released 25-cent pieces in its 73 branches Friday. The coins bearing Florida’s insignia, released by the US Mint as part of its 50 States Quarter Program, are part of a program to issue a new quarter every 10 weeks from 1999 to 2008. BankAtlantic plans to distribute 100 Florida coins at each branch across Florida. The Fort Lauderdale bank has more than a dozen branches in Miami-Dade County. Marketing chief Jarett Levan said he expects customers to sweep up the coins within an hour.
DEALS FOR RIDERS: Check out mass transit and get a discount at a local business. That’s what the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority is trying in an attempt to get more commuters interested in tri-county transit. Coupons for things such as 10% of the price of a meal at Di Salvo’s in Hollywood to a free home appraisal are available at the transit board’s Web site, www.sfrta.fl.gov.
FAST TRACK: The Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust is to vote April 28 to limit its review time for contracts. The watchdog group introduced a resolution last week that would require members to act on a contract or amendment to the transportation plan within 45 days of the county commission’s approval. All contracts funded by the voter-created half-cent sales tax need trust approval. According to the 10-month-old trust, it acts in an average 39 days after commission approval. Commissioner Dennis Moss said last month that the trust could intentionally delay a contract, though he did not say that has occurred.
MIDTOWN JOBS: Developers of the 56-acre Midtown Miami project in one of Miami’s poorest communities sponsored a workshop last week for local residents interested in jobs with the project. The mixed-use development on the former Buena Vista rail yard site is expected to create 3,500 jobs, mostly in construction and security. Residents of Wynwood were able to apply for the jobs at the workshop before applications were opened to the general public.
DOLLARS FLY: Miami International Airport is spending $2 million a day on its $4.8 billion airport expansion, airport officials say. Almost $1.4 billion of work is finished and $2.8 billion of construction is under way, according to a construction report released March 31. The projects include two new terminals, a new runway and $100 million in security infrastructure.
PULLING OUT: Margaret Pulles, vice president of strategic affairs at the Miami Museum of Science and Space Transit Planetarium, is leaving for a post with the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority. Ms. Pulles, who has worked toward getting the museum a home in Miami’s Bicentennial Park, is to step down today (4/8) and become the expressway panel’s director of communications and public affairs April 19. The expressway authority oversees the county’s five toll roads. It currently outsources its public relations to a private firm.
HITTING THE ROAD: Road America Motor Club, a roadside-assistance company, will move its divisional headquarters into 22,935 square feet of space at Airport Corporate Center. The company said it will relocate several offices to the site. The center, at 7300 Corporate Center Drive, contains more than 1 million square feet in 11 buildings.
DREDGING DEAL DUE: The Army Corps of Engineers is evaluating proposals to dredge the Miami River, spokesman Barry Vorse said. The Miami River Commission says the $54 million to $72 million project is vital to maintain a depth of 15 feet for cargo ships and to prevent contaminants from flowing into Biscayne Bay. US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen wrote to the corps in February expressing concerns that millions of dollars in federal funds to dredge the river are no longer available, but officials said work should begin in late summer. A contract was to have been awarded Jan. 21, but the corps delayed a decision. Mr. Vorse said he was "confident" the contract would be awarded in one to two weeks.
AUTHORITY FIGURE: Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority CEO Jim Jenkins is still in charge, more than six months after he resigned. News that he sent a resignation letter to authority chairman Manny Diaz came out in October, and he later told the board he would step down Dec. 31. Mr. Jenkins, the 10th executive director of the 20-year-old authority, said Monday that he would probably stay on until a new leader is found. A committee is to be appointed in coming weeks to review candidates.
ISLAND PARKING: The Miami Parking Authority broke ground Tuesday on a 340-space parking lot on Watson Island east of Miami Children’s Museum. Projected cost of the lot is nearly $813,000, according to the authority. In addition to the museum, it is expected to accommodate spillover from Parrot Jungle Island. The parking authority recently finished a $445,300 upgrade to the island’s boat ramp and nearby lot next to Parrot Jungle and Ichimura Miami-Japan Garden, on the north side of the island off MacArthur Causeway. The amphibious Miami Duck Tours also operates from that site.
ILLUMINATING BAYFRONT: Talks will continue with non-profit group Light Up Miami, which wants to take over Bayfront Park’s laser tower, said Timothy Schmand, executive director of the park’s management trust. He said he agreed with Light Up’s leader, Carlos Batista, about using the tower as a beacon for the community but "I don’t necessarily think it means lasers." A revitalization plan calls for dismantling the monolith’s beam machines. The trust plans to renovate the structure’s restrooms and find a use for space on its west side, now a storage site, Mr. Schmand said. The pair met Friday about using the tower’s base for vendors.
KISLAK GOES TO WASHINGTON: A primary concern for Jay and Jean Kislak was that the Kislak Collection, donated Tuesday by the Miami Lakes couple to the Library of Congress, be on view to the public. "They want the collection to be shared both with the academic community and with children, families, tourists and the public at large," said publicist Phyllis Shapiro. The collection of more than 4,000 books, manuscripts, historic documents, maps and art will be in the North Gallery of the library temporarily. A permanent display is planned at the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington. Mr. Kislak, chairman of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, which works with the US Department of State, is founder of J.I. Kislak Mortgage Corp. Jean Kislak is an art historian and consultant.
VENTURE BEARS FRUIT: Related Group of Florida last week started building The Venture, a 500-condo mixed-use development at 187th Street and 29th Avenue in Aventura. Units sold out on the first day on the market, the company said. Construction should be finished by the fourth quarter of 2005, Related said. The building, designed by Arquitectonica, is to have 18,000 square feet of retail, three swimming pools, a spa and a gym.
GOOD MORNING, MIAMI: Three developers, Miami transportation planner Mary Conway and the Downtown Development Authority’s executive director, Dana Nottingham, will hash out "The New Face of Downtown Miami" at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at Miami City Club. It’s part of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Good Morning Breakfast Series and will be moderated by Miami Today Publisher and Editor Michael Lewis. Also speaking will be Tim Weller of MDM Development Group, developer of Metropolitan Miami; and Rudy Touzet of America’s Capital Partners and Tim Hendricks of Cousins Properties, developers of the Columbus Center. Details: (305) 577-5471.