BUS ROUTES CHANGE: Miami Dade Transit plans earlier rush-hour service on four bus routes through Brickell and downtown and eight new routes starting Nov. 21. "Routes 3, 9, 16 and 32 will arrive at designated stops 15-20 minutes earlier to relieve overcrowding and reduce passenger wait time," said public information officer Tarnell Carroll. The new routes will serve southwestern, southern and northern areas of the county.
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BRIGHT SIGNS AHEAD: The People's Transportation Plan will pay $97,000 to replace 68 street signs at 17 intersections in Miami-Dade this year, county officials said. Sites include Bird Road and Southwest 92nd Avenue, Miami Lakes Road and Ludlam Road, and Douglas Road and Northwest 199th Street. The illuminated signs feature larger letters that comply with federal regulations. The money is part of the $17 billion plan created after Miami-Dade voters approved a half-cent sales tax in November 2002.
UNITED THEY FALL: Bankrupt United Airlines, which now has 238 employees at Miami International Airport, continues to downsize, said spokesman Jeff Green. "For the past two years, demands for service at Miami International Airport for United Airlines flights have not been great," he said. He said employee contracts are being reviewed and offers to transfer to Washington and Chicago hubs will be based on seniority. Those with little service time will be laid off. In January, United announced the closing of its Miami domicile for 481 flight attendants and cutbacks in Miami-Latin America service.
CULTURAL CENTER BIDS: Bid packages went out Oct. 1 and are due Dec. 1 on the $34 million South Miami-Dade Cultural Center, a 1,000-seat theater on 6.5 acres on Southwest 211th Street. County officials are to meet with area residents at 6 p.m. Monday at Southland Mall next to Sears, 20505 S. Dixie Highway to update plans for the Arquitectonica International-designed center.
FUNDS WANTED: While first-phase funding is secure for the cultural center, said Marie Denis, a county cultural-affairs manager, $10 million more is needed for the second phase, an 8,000-square-foot activities building and added landscape improvements. The $10 million is part of Question 8 of the proposed General Obligation Bond going before voters Nov. 2.
COUNTESS TAKES HELM: Germany's new consul general in Miami, Eva Alexandra Countess Kendeffy, knows exactly where she has been posted. "I'm looking forward to being in the capital of Latin America," she told a large reception for German Unity Day at InterContinental Miami. The newly arrived countess, who also has been posted to Costa Rica, Washington and the Dominican Republic in her 22-year career, replaces Volker Anding.
JAPAN ADDS ENVOY: Masakazu Toshikage has been named consul general of Japan in Miami, replacing Ko Kodaira. He previously served in the US at the Embassy of Japan in Washington as first secretary. "the alliance between Japan and the US has never been more consolidated, and our two economies are increasingly interdependent," Mr. Toshikage said.
BRICKELL SPACE: The Related Group of Florida says construction is to start this year on the 1,000-unit Plaza on Brickell, 901 Brickell Ave. Roberto S. Rocha, executive vice president, said hospitality design specialist Hirsch Bedner Associates will do interiors while Emilio Fuster handles landscaping for the 56- and 43-story two-tower residential project. He said it would feature a 26,000-square-foot mixed-use outdoor plaza. "We're confident," Mr. Rocha said, of "an original and exclusive design that will further identify Brickell as a premier destination." The project will mean taking "innovative approaches to effectively utilize space while maintaining a chic yet subtle vibe," said Greg Bates, a Hirsch Bedner associate.
FLIPPING ELEPHANTS: "One friend described me as the man who wrote a check and the bank bounced," joked Nick Leeson at the historic Biltmore Hotel last week. The 37-year-old trader, whose unauthorized dealings led to a $1.3 billion loss that brought down London institution Barings Bank in 1995, was a guest speaker at the Due Diligence and Asset Recovery Symposium. Introducing Mr. Leeson, lawyer Martin Kenny summarized his story as "how a dishonest ant can flip over an elephant."
TRADE TRIANGLE: A Florida International University panel today (10/21) will seek a European perspective on trading with Latin America via Miami. Panelists include Diego Stecchi, president of Ferragamo Latin America; Nicolas Bergengruen, executive vice president of Dresdner Latinamerika; Bruno Wyler, president of Wyler Associates; and Jonas Haeger, president of Surgical Team Inc. Carl Cira, director of FIU's Summit of the Americas Center, and Rodolfo Rua Boiero, president of Buenos Aires' Center of Studies on Economic Integration and International Trade, will address the free 5 p.m. meeting at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables. Details: (305) 577-9868.
PANAMANIAN HOTEL: Miami-based InterContinental Hotels Latin America is building the 300-room InterContinental Playa Bonita Resort on a former US military beach on the west coast of Panama. InterContinental is working in partnership with Empresas Bern, one of Panama's largest hotel and tour operators. It's expected to open early in 2007. "This is our third venture with Bern and the most exciting yet," said Alvaro Diago, president of InterContinental Latin America.
HELP WANTED: The Metropolitan Planning Organization, responsible for planning county transportation, is seeking members for bicycle/pedestrian, transportation aesthetics and freight transportation advisory teams. "We are continuously looking for residents to fill vacant seats," said Susan Schreiber, who coordinates the aesthetics group. "Many pedestrians express concerns ... but very rarely do they do anything about their concerns," said Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee Coordinator David Henderson. Details: (305) 375-4507.
BANKING ON EDUCATION: A $100,000 donation from TransAtlantic Bank will help finance programs at Miami Dade College. "We have many programs and students that are in need," said college spokeswoman Beverly Counts Rodrigues. TransAltantic CEO Miriam Lopez, a Miami Dade College alumna, last week made the contribution in memory of former bank director Natan Rok. "The funds will allow us to expand the dreams and ambitions of our gifted student body," said MDC President Eduardo Padron.
GABLES CHAMBER UPDATE: The new chairwoman of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce wants to give the group's 1,500 members more for their money. The chamber is seeking business partnerships with members who can provide services for the group and is set to announce deals in coming months, according to Nancy Hogan. "We're just trying to deliver to our membership a value proposition," the chairwoman said after starting her term in September. "We want to be more effective and efficient. We want different ideas that will create more energy, more excitement and bring more value to our business community." A second major project will see Ms. Hogan lead the effort to find a permanent home for the chamber, now at 360 Greco Ave.
BEACON AWARD: The International Economic Development Council gave the Beacon Council its 2004 economic development research award for a response to a request for proposals issued by the Free Trade Area of the Americas Trade Negotiations Committee, which is evaluating sites for an FTAA headquarters.
LOGISTICS-FRIENDLY: Miami is the 22nd-most-logistics-friendly US metropolitan area, according to a ranking of the largest 100. Expansion Management and Logistics Today magazines produce the ranking in 10 categories. Miami ranked first in transportation and distribution industry climate, fifth in air cargo, sixth in workforce, 32nd in interstate highways and 42nd in waterborne commerce. Details: www.beaconcouncil.com.
COMMISSION ART COMMISSIONED: A mural inspired by Haitian and Hispanic culture is to adorn the foyer of Miami-Dade's county commission chambers by the end of this week. Xavier Cortada said he drew on stories, drawings, photos and poems by senior citizens to create the piece. He's to install the mural on the second floor of the Stephen P. Clark Center, 111 NW First St.
BEING HEARD: ISN Telcom, a local wireless and Internet services company, has launched a voice-over Internet protocol utilizing its ipFONE service. "Our goal is to flat-out be the market leader," said President Jonathan Lieberman. Founded in 1997, the company has more than 30,000 customers for local, long-distance, broadband DSL and wireless services and six retail wireless stores throughout Florida.
CENTER GOES WIRELESS: Room LinX Inc., a provider of wireless high-speed network links to hotels, is expanding into convention centers. It signed a three-year deal with James L. Knight Center and the Miami Convention Center, 400 SE Second Ave. The company will share revenues from use of high-speed access at the center. RoomLinX also will provide onsite tech support year-round for more than 200 convention days a year.
TOP BERTH: The 327-room Mandarin Oriental Miami on Brickell Key Drive has been recognized by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine as 50th among the world's 100 best hotels. Subscribers were asked to score hotels on location, service, comfort, food and design.
SHIPPING IN: The 21st annual Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention March 14-17 at the Miami Beach Convention Center will bring thousands of visitors, promoters say. Attendance passed 9,000 from 116 countries and regions this year. Details: www.cruiseshipping.net.