Written by Miami Today on June 10, 2004
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TAKING FLIGHT? Problems securing a lease imperil Miami-Dade County’s bid for Safire Aircraft Co.’s planned jet-assembly plant, risking the loss of 800 future high-wage jobs, said Frank Nero, president and CEO of the Beacon Council, the county development agency. Mr. Nero said he spoke to Gov. Jeb Bush about the peril at last week’s South Florida Economic Summit in Hollywood and the governor suggested that the county offer the land for free. Many meetings have taken place between the company and the county in recent weeks, said Mr. Nero and Beacon Council Chairman Calixto Garcia-Velez. In May 2003, Safire announced it would build a $45 million plant at Opa-locka Airport based on city and state incentives worth almost $10 million. Now, Safire is looking at sites in six other states. "Clearly," Mr. Garcia-Velez said, "this woke us up."
NEW AIR ROUTE: American Airlines is to introduce a route from Miami to St. Kitts this year. The new service will consist of three flights a week starting Nov. 3 with two more flights a week starting Feb. 2. Each flight will accommodate 142 passengers. The route is the airline’s third new one out of Miami this year, following service to St. Lucia, an Eastern Caribbean island, and Manchester in the United Kingdom.
INTO THE FIRE: Burger King Corp. on Tuesday named John Chidsey president of its North America operations. Mr. Chidsey is former chairman and CEO of Cendant, which operates Avis and Budget car-rental companies. He also was chief financial officer of PepsiCo World Trading Co. Inc. and its Eastern European business. Miami-based Burger King operates more than 11,220 restaurants worldwide and had $11.1 billion in sales last year.
LANDING LAND: Miami city commissioners are to consider today (6/10) acquiring land from the Florida Department of Transportation that may be used for a new police training center. The city wouldn’t have to pay for the land, but commissioners must decide whether to pay closing costs and other expenses. The police department has $10 million to build a center that could also train Latin American and Caribbean officers. The city would need to spend $16,000 to acquire 1.7 acres at Northwest 20th Street near Interstate 95 and $22,000 for 2.31 acres between Northwest 15th and 17th streets, according to city documents. The properties surround the site of a proposed Camillus House homeless shelter.
REOPENING ACT: The Byron Carlyle Theater will reopen its curtains Sunday with the Florida Dance Festival. The theater, at 500 71st St. in Miami Beach, underwent a major transformation from an outdated closed cinema to a modern performing-arts venue. Details: www.miamibeachfl.gov.
CLUB DEBUTS: The city-owned Country Club of Coral Gables is to officially reopen today (6/10) after a two-year renovation. Marketers say membership in the historic club at 1007 S. Greenway Drive has grown from about 280 to 700 since the renovation project began. Mayor Donald Slesnick and City Manager David Brown are expected for a ribbon-cutting.
MEXICAN MONEY: The next big wave of real estate investors may be coming from Mexico. Natcom Marketing President and CEO Robert Rodriguez told business-workshop participants at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce annual meeting Friday that his company "tripped over" about $20 million in real estate deals by connecting contacts at Natcom’s Mexico office with agents in Miami. But the company couldn’t profit on the transactions, he said, because it isn’t licensed in real estate.
FONTAINEBLEAU UPDATE: The Fontainebleau Hilton and Turnberry Associates this week started sales for the 311-unit Fontainebleau III Ocean Club, an 18-story condo-hotel on the south end of the resort property at 4444 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Groundbreaking is scheduled for early next year, said Bruce Weiner, president of Turnberry’s residential division. He said the adjacent Fontainebleau II, which is sold out, is due for completion in November. Units in the new building, he said, range from $435,000 to more than $1.8 million and from 500 to 1,600 square feet. "We’re thrilled about continuing our relationship with the Muss family, owners of the Fontainebleau Hilton," he said. Architect John Nichols is replicating the facade of the Fontainebleau Sorrento building, which the new tower is replacing. Details: (305) 531-8480.
NEARER INFINITY: Infinity at Brickell will inclue 459 condo units and two additional floors following approval from city commissioners. A consortium of developers needed permission to make the changes, prompted in part by market demands. Thirteen planned two-bedroom units have been changed to one-bedroom, 26 units were added, parking increased from 585 spaces to 590 and 13,400 square feet of office space was added. The project is to cost $89.8 million and employ 840 construction workers, according to city documents, and add $1.27 million in annual tax revenues.
BOOMING MIAMI: The Urban Land Institute, a non-profit education and research center, will discuss the Miami development boom. The group will address trends, foreign-investment levels, opportunities and potential pitfalls. Speakers will include attorney Neisen Kasdin, real estate analyst Michael Cannon, Miami City Manager Joe Arriola and Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Dana Nottingham. The meeting is scheduled for 7:30 a.m.-3:15 p.m. Wednesday (6/16) at InterContinental Hotel Miami, 100 Chopin Plaza. Details: (954) 783-9504.
FREE-TRADE COUNTDOWN: A countdown to decisions on the Free Trade of the Americas will be the focus of the International Roundtable on June 24. Panelists will be Ambler H. Moss Jr. of Florida FTAA Inc. and law firm Greenberg Traurig’s global-trade group; Joseph R. Smith, vice president of the Florida Foreign Trade Association; Harold E. "Ed" Patricoff Jr., county representative to the Jay Malina International Trade Consortium and chairman of law firm Shutts & Bowen’s international dispute-resolution group; and Dominique Virchaux, a trustee for Florida FTAA and managing partner of executive-search consultant Virchaux & Partners. The breakfast session, sponsored by BankUnited and Miami Today, will start at 7:30 a.m. at JW Marriott, 1109 Brickell Ave. Details: Claudia Fernandez, (305) 358-1008.
ONE OF ITS OWN: After Miami Mayor Manny Diaz said at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce annual meeting Friday that "the chamber is ready to rise from its ashes," the group was ready to honor the mayor, a grad of the chamber’s Leadership Miami program years ago. Committee head Art Noriega and outgoing chamber chairman Peter Roulhac gave the mayor the Bill Colson award, which Mr. Noriega called "the highest example of what a Leadership Miami graduate is about."
EARLY TAKEOFF: During a workshop at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce annual meeting last week, Florida FTAA leader Jorge Arrizurieta spoke about supporting Miami International Airport and the "aviation authority" instead of the "aviation department." He then corrected himself, adding, "Maybe that was a Freudian slip." In recent weeks, a group led by the Miami Business Forum has been circulating a petition to put an independent aviation authority on the fall ballot after attempts failed at the county commission level.
FORUM CHAIR: The Miami Business Forum, a 32-year-old civic group, has named Jorge Hernandez-ToraÒo chairman, replacing Joe Lacher. Mr. Lacher, president of BellSouth Florida, led the board for 28 months. He will remain on the executive committee. Mr. Hernandez-ToraÒo is a partner with Holland & Knight and heads its Miami office’s corporate practice and national entertainment practice.