Written by Miami Today on November 4, 2004
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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THE WINNERS ARE…: The real winners of the presidential election will be Florida lawyers, a Miami television studio audience heard Oct. 28. During a recording of the BBC’s political debate program "Question Time" at WPBT’s studios in North Miami, British tabloid journalist and sometime Florida resident Richard Littlejohn said, "It’s important people and not lawyers decide the election. As Lida (Rodriguez-Taseff, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Electoral Reform Coalition) said, there are already 10 lawsuits running in Florida, and we haven’t got to the election yet." The Help America Vote Act, passed in the aftermath of the 2000 election, reserved $3.9 billion to ensure that there wouldn’t be a repeat of the vote-count scandal.
HOMESTEAD BOOMS: Prime Homebuilders of Hollywood, developing in Homestead’s master-planned community of Waterstone, sold 168 of 211 planned townhomes in one week for its new subdivision, Villa Portafino West. When sales opened in mid-October, 127 homes sold in one day, said Larry Abbo, company vice president. Prices for the smallest townhomes climbed from $189,000 to $211,900 in a week, he said. The cost of a 50-foot lot in Kendall has nearly doubled in the past four years, he said, "which has a significant impact on the final sales price of a home."
TERREMARK EXTENDS CLOSING: Terremark Worldwide, owner and operator of network-access point NAP of the Americas, exercised an option to extend closing to Dec. 1 to buy total ownership of the Technology Center of the Americas, 50 NE Ninth St., the fortress-like building where the NAP is housed. Terremark officials say they could extend the closing until Dec. 31 by paying $1 million more and receiving a waiver from the center’s mortgage holder.
LOOKING FOR CASH: The deal is contingent on Terremark finding financing. In the agreement, Terremark must pay $40 million for 100% ownership and assume $35 million in debt. Officials say they have deposited $4 million with the Technology Center partners. The deposits will be counted toward the purchase price.
RETURN FROM IRAQ: Army Reserve Col. Lettie J. Bien is to return unarmed this month as Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce president. Interim president Ana Gonzalez said Col. Bien was deployed in 2003 to work in civil affairs to bring business to Iraq and rebuild the country. A celebration honoring her return and to kick off the Chamber’s Capital Campaign Drive will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Country Club of Coral Gables, 997 N Greenway Drive. Details: 305-446-1657.
BACK TO BUSINESS: Col. Bien, a lawyer, replaced retiring Rob Robison as head of the 1,500-member chamber in April 2002. The US Southern Command, for which Col. Bien serves, is one of nine unified commands around the world within the Department of Defense. It serves as control room for almost all US military and national security operations in Latin America and the Caribbean. Col. Bien received a commission to the Women’s Army Corps in 1976 and was in active military duty until 1981.
REDLANDS ON SALE: More than 600 acres of virtually vacant land in The Redlands bordering Krome Avenue is for sale. Allen Morris Co. officials declined to comment because of confidentiality agreements associated with the property. However, Keyes Co. agent Louis Melara said Allen Morris sent letters to various agents soliciting proposals for the property. Mr. Melara said he submitted a proposal for a client but was rejected.
SMALL-BUSINESS LINK: The Small Business Council of America has set up a Florida chapter to serve as a liaison to the political scene in Washington. The chapter president is Coral Gables executive Placido Blanco of National Financial Planning Services Inc. An inaugural luncheon will be held in Miami. Details: (305) 444-6668 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PROGRAM ACCREDITED: Miami International University of Art and Design’s interior-design bachelor’s degree program won accreditation last week from the Foundation for Interior Design Education Research, a non-profit organization. The program was accredited at the associate’s degree level in 1995. "Only the most recognized and prestigious schools are FIDER accredited," said Greg Hoffman, chairman of the group’s interior-design department. "These schools attract the finest students and produce the finest designers."
BEACON AWARDS: The Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County’s economic development partnership, extended the deadline to apply for Beacon Awards to Nov. 5. The awards honor job creation, business expansion, corporate citizenship and leadership. They are to be presented Jan. 26 at the Ritz-Carlton on South Beach. Details: www.beaconcouncil.com.
CONVENTIONS RECORDS: The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau says it booked a record 500 conventions, generating $260 million for the local economy, in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30. "For the first time ever, the average daily room rate exceeded $100," said bureau president Bill Talbert. Despite hurricane threats, the average daily room rate in the summer was 10.6% higher than in the 2003 season, with Miami Beach reaching a record-high $109.66.
ITALIAN DESIGN: After six years in New York, Tour Abitare Italia is making its inaugural stop in Miami 6-9 p.m. Nov. 30 at furniture showrooms in the Miami Design District and Coral Gables. From Nov. 30 until Jan. 12, the public can preview "Luxury in Living – Italian Designers for Italian Industries," an ongoing campaign showcasing Italian fashion, design and cinema. Details: www.abitareitalia.com or the Italian consulate, (305) 374-6322.
BILATERAL TRADE: The International Consulting Group, an association of financial-services firms that help clients expand into global markets, is to host a conference on investment opportunities between South Florida and Iberoamerican markets today (11/4) at the Hyatt Regency Miami, 400 SE Second Ave. Jorge L. Arrizurieta, executive director of Florida FTAA, and professionals from Latin America and Spain are to discuss opportunities for increased bilateral trade at 6:30 p.m. Details: (305) 447-8555.
SEASONAL FLIGHTS: American Airlines, which offers flights to more than 250 cities in 40 countries, is adding seasonal flights from Miami to destinations in England, the Caribbean and Latin America. The airline added flights from Miami to Manchester, England, and St. Lucia, British West Indies, Nov. 1 and service to St. Kitts/Nevis in the Leeward Islands Nov. 3. In addition, a new nonstop service from Miami to Montevideo, Uruguay, is to start Dec. 16. Details: www.aa.com.
MANUFACTURING TRADE: Manufacturing’s role in Miami’s international business community will be the focus of Miami Today’s Nov. 10 International Roundtable. Panelists will include Gil Lugo, project manager for the Florida Manufacturing Extension Partnership; Katrin Theodoli, president of Magnum Marine; and June M. Wolfe, president of the South Florida Manufacturers Association and the Florida Manufacturers Association. The free 5 p.m. session, sponsored by the City of Coral Gables Development Department, will be at the Hyatt Coral Gables, 50 Alhambra Plaza. RSVP: Victor Guedez, (305) 358-1008.