Written by Miami Today on April 15, 2004
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RIVER BID WINNER: The dredging of the Miami River should begin no later than August, according to Gov. Jeb Bush’s office. "With the completion of this dredging project will come a safe and reliable navigation channel, which will stimulate growth along the river," the governor said in a statement Monday. "The river plays a vital role in the local economy, and dredging it will improve international trade, particularly among Caribbean-based companies who are primary users of this waterway." The US Army Corp of Engineers awarded the project to Weston Bean – a partnership of Weston Solutions of West Chester, PA, and Bean Environmental of New Orleans – for $11.8 million for the first phase of the cleanup, according to corps spokesman Barry Vorse.
TRADE FLOW: The Miami River Commission and others say the $54 million-$72 million dredging project is necessary to maintain the river’s depth at a consistent 15 feet to accommodate cargo ships and prevent contaminants from flowing into Biscayne Bay. More than $4.1 billion in cargo moved through the Miami River in 2001, according to the commission. According to Gov. Bush’s statement, the project connects with efforts to bring the Free Trade Area of the Americas headquarters to Miami as "optimal trade efficiency will support that FTAA-based endeavor."
DUPONT’S DOOM: Destruction of Dupont Plaza at the mouth of the Miami River is looming. A tenant who originally was told to move out by July said last week that she was asked to leave last month. No tenants remain at the complex. Miami-Dade County’s Shoreline Review Committee on April 1 approved plans for a mixed-use project on the site although the proposal needs City of Miami approval. Lionstone Hotels & Resorts and Miami developer Ugo Colombo of CMC Group want to replace the 1950s-era structure at 300 Biscayne Blvd. with two buildings to house retail stores, condos and a hotel. No demolition permit was issued as of Friday, but a city official said one is in the works.
GROVE GUIDE: A master plan for the Coconut Grove waterfront from Miami City Hall to Peacock Park is in the works. The area falls along the Coconut Grove Expo Center, one of two locations proffered for the headquarters of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas. City staffers are crafting what they want out of a consultant’s blueprint for the strip. Details and cost for the master plan are under consideration, as is a date for when a bid request will go out, according to David Rosemond, chief of staff for City Manager Joe Arriola.
MORATORIUM ON HOLD: A 90-day halt to construction along a busy corridor in Miami’s Silver Bluff neighborhood was put off last week by city commissioners because it must first go to the planning advisory board Wednesday. Development restrictions on Southwest 27th Avenue from Coral Way to US 1 have been suggested to block further high-rise projects and were sparked by a 14-story development called Catalonia, slated to rise next to single-family homes.
BISCAYNE BAN: After May 8, Miami won’t accept applications to build tall buildings in the Upper Eastside for 90 days. City commissioners decided April 8 to bar applications of commercial buildings taller than 85 feet and residential buildings taller than 95 for the area along Biscayne Boulevard. One zoning attorney warned that the halt could have a "chilling effect" on development, but Commissioner Johnny Winton, who represents the district, defended his resolution by saying it wouldn’t affect projects in the pipeline. New guidelines for the area are now being crafted. The moratorium will start May 8 if the mayor doesn’t veto it within 10 days.
LEASING LARGE: Brickell Avenue’s trophy buildings secured Miami-Dade County’s two largest leases so far this year, according to a report released last week by C.B. Richard Ellis’ Miami office. The top transaction was Fowler White Burnett PA’s lease for 42,000 square feet of office space at Espirito Santo Plaza. Another law firm, Tew Cardenas, made the second-largest deal, for 38,300 square feet at Four Seasons Hotel and Tower a block away. Kraft Foods’ lease for nearly 38,000 square feet for its Latin American and Caribbean headquarters at 355 Alhambra Circle in Coral Gables is the county’s third-largest rental transaction this year.
FLAGER LEASES: Two new leases at Flagler Park Plaza brought the 350,000-square-foot property to 94% occupancy, its marketers said. PetsMart contracted for more than 20,000 square feet and Linens ‘n Things signed up for 30,000 square feet in the shopping center at 8277 W. Flagler St., according to Terranova Corp., which manages the 14-year-old property. The plaza has a Publix Super Markets store, an Office Depot outlet and other businesses.
SUPERINTENDENT NAMES NEAR: A firm hired to find candidates for the superintendent post plans to give Miami-Dade County Public School Board officials a list of names next week. Korn/Ferry International of Los Angeles expects to submit names to a search committee at the school board’s Tuesday meeting. Officials said last month that they hoped to have a replacement by May for Merrett Stierheim, whose contract ends in June. Once Korn/Ferry submits names, the board will post them on its Web site, said selection team member Patrick Gray. Details: www.dadeschools.net.
NIGHT-NIGHT: Miami-Dade County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to end overnight Metrorail service, a move anticipated for months. As of April 25, bus service will replace 1-5 a.m. rail runs. Because ridership was low, transit officials recommended that the commission end 24-hour service, which began last year. Transit Director Roosevelt Bradley said only 125 people a day rode in those early-morning hours.
JERSEY INCENTIVE MODEL: After a trip to study New Jersey’s tax incentive program, Miami-Dade County officials will decide over the next few weeks whether to seek a similar plan. "I think there are some lessons to be learned from it," Assistant County Manager Tony Crapp said. He said he will discuss the next steps with county commission Chairwoman Barbara Carey-Shuler when she returns in May after personal time off. One route could be to seek a state law creating sales-tax-free zones in underdeveloped areas to lure businesses. New Jersey lets businesses in underdeveloped areas pay less sales tax.
COUNTY EMULATES EBAY: Miami-Dade County is trying a reverse auction to purchase technology equipment. The system works like eBay in that bidders are given a timeframe to compete via the Internet. In the county’s case, competitive bids from vendors will get smaller. For example, when the county offers a contract for computers, companies would compete by Internet to provide computers at the lowest price. County officials say the system will cut procurement time 60% and contain costs. Details: Theodore Lucas, (305) 375-5257.
BARRY GOOD WORK: Gov. Jeb Bush made Barry University President Jeanne O’Laughlin’s day when they met last week with his cabinet in Tallahassee. Sister Jeanne, who has headed the Catholic university for 23 years, saw the governor name April 13 Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin Day to mark her raising of more than $200 million and making Barry the state’s fourth-largest private university. Sister Jeanne, who is to retire June 30, is the state’s longest-tenured university president.
GROWING PORT FAMILY: Port of Miami officials will sign an agreement with Port of San Andres Island in Colombia, the Port of Belize and Autoridad Portuaria de Rama in Nicaragua. Port of Miami officials expect the agreement to increase cargo and cruise traffic in Miami. Signing of the three sister-seaports agreement is to take place today (4/15) during the Latin Chamber of Commerce’s 25th Anniversary Celebration and Hemispheric Congress. The Port of Miami has 30 similar agreements intended to foster relationships through information sharing.
CORRECTION: An article April 8 inaccurately described one use of Miami’s Orange Bowl Stadium. Built in 1937, the stadium once was home to the annual Orange Bowl college football game, but that game now is played at Pro Player Stadium.