Written by Miami Today on November 25, 2004
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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ARENA SALE EXTENDED: The contract for the sale of Miami Arena, with an original deadline of Monday, has been extended to Dec. 30. Miami Assistant City Attorney Olga Ramirez-Seijas said the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority and the city have agreed on a resolution now pending Miami-Dade County’s approval, expected Tuesday. Glenn Straub, owner of Palm Beach Golf and Country Club, won the right to buy the arena for slightly more than $28 million at a September auction. "If the county does approve of the resolution," Ms. Ramirez-Seijas said, "We hope to have the agreement reviewed and signed by Dec. 15."
LAND TALK: Miami-Dade County and City of Miami officials are inviting the public to discuss the future of a 4.4-acre plot east of American Airlines Arena in downtown Miami called Parcel B. The land is owned by the county and has been earmarked for several unrealized retail and residential projects over the years. The workshop is set for 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Wednesday (12/1) at the arena. "This site is a key component of the revitalization of the entire Biscayne bayfront," said Cynthia Nikitin, who will moderate the workshop. "How this site is designed, programmed and activated will contribute significantly to the future of downtown Miami."
CONDO CONVERSION WAVES: The developers of the Waverly at Surfside, a Collins Avenue hotel converted to condominiums, have secured $36 million in financing for the project. Margolias Realty Group closed the multimillion-dollar deal with Bank of America, Atlanta, which provided $31.5 million, and affiliate South Charles Investment of Maryland, which loaned $4.5 million. Seventy percent of the Surfside development’s planned 111 condos are committed, developers said.
DEVELOPER HONORED: Terra International CEO Pedro Martin has been named South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Developer of the Year. Terra is developer of condominium projects Quantum on the Bay, 900 Biscayne Bay and Metropolis at Dadeland. Terra has raised $88.5 billion in equity since 2001 and could reach $1 billion in sales by year’s end, company officials said.
NEW SALES CENTER: Terra International is to open a sales center Dec. 4 at 666 Biscayne Blvd. for its latest luxury condominium project, 900 Biscayne Bay, a 1.5-million-square-foot residential tower. Construction is to begin next year with completion in 2007.
GROVE DEVELOPER: The Miami City Commission last week chose Sasaki Associates to develop Coconut Grove’s waterfront, including the area between Peacock Park and Dinner Key Marina, where a bay walk may be considered. "The city commission will begin negotiations that will help draw a master plan to define the scope of work and budget to then present to Sasaki," said Michelle Niemeyer, chairwoman of the Coconut Grove Waterfront Working Committee, made up of Grove residents. A committee member said it would take six to eight months for the city to draft a plan.
MARINA DREDGING: The City of Miami has applied to county commissioners for a permit to dredge nearly 16 acres of Biscayne Bay at the northwest end of Watson Island. The city plans to build a 50-slip marina on the island just south of the MacArthur Causeway Bridge. The mega-yacht marina would accommodate ships up to 465 feet long. The application is to go before commissioners in December.
RACE FANS, COUNT YOUR REVENUES! Engines weren’t the only things revved up last weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend. Economic impact – who came, how much they spent, where they stayed – is being studied by Weston-based Sports Management Research Institute. "It was a banner weekend," said company President Kathleen Davis. "It’s too soon to put a number on it. We’re inputting the data as we speak." The firm surveyed 1,500 people at the speedway. A report is expected to go to speedway officials by the first of the year.
MORE THAN $117 MILLION: The benchmark is about $117 million, Ms. Davis said, the economic impact found during her company’s study in 1999 of two NASCAR races at the speedway. "All the economic indicators bode well for this year," Ms. Davis said. "The economy is moving well, she said. NASCAR’s new point system this year made for a close race for the season’s Nextel Cup championship, she said. The season championship was not decided until the end of last week’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
AIRPORT SHOPPING: Pending approval from the county commission, the Miami-Dade Aviation Department will invite proposals for stores in the north and south terminals of the Miami International Airport. Aviation officials hope to find investors interested in seven-year agreements to finance, construct, lease, manage and operate retail sites. The plan to invite proposals is set to go before commissioners in December.
IMPROVING READING: Sixty Miami-Dade County Public Schools teachers are to work toward a master’s degree in reading education through Florida International University. The school district is to pay for their education in return for a commitment to work three years in district schools, said Gabriel Quintero, the district’s director of training and development. Participating teachers are to study how to teach reading to students and develop leadership skills to help other teachers better develop students, Mr. Quintero said. The program is to run January through March 2007 at a cost of about $560,000, funded through district funds and grants. Details: (305) 995-7477.
NEW MAN AT NEIMAN: The new man at Neiman is not new to Coral Gables. University of Miami alumnus Stephen Brunelle transferred from the Neiman Marcus store in Paramus, NJ, as store manager just over two weeks ago to the Gables to replace John Capizzi, who has moved on to manage the San Francisco branch. Mr. Brunelle said he won’t become part of the revolving door of retail. "I think I will be here for quite a few years. If I was going to be sitting in a particular city for any great amount of time, this would be the one I would pick."
CORPS OF STUDENTS: A Nov. 18 accord between Miami Dade College and Jackson-Pierce Affairs Inc., a US Department of Labor Job Corps contractor, will let Job Corps graduates study at MDC. The federally funded Job Corps is an education and vocational training program that since 1964 has been helping young adults 16-24 learn a trade and find a good job. Jose Vicente, president of Miami Dade College North Campus, said the Job Corps approached the college. "I am very pleased with this partnership," he said. "It is an added component to higher the education and offer better opportunities to Job Corp students."
DESIGN AND WINE: The Reach for the Stars Foundation, benefiting persons with Cystic Fibrosis, is holding a design and wine event in downtown Hollywood from 6-9 p.m. Dec. 9. Guests must first buy an original hand-painted wine glass for $25 at Now Art CafÈ & Blue Martini Bar, 1820 S Hollywood Circle. Sale proceeds benefit the foundation. Guests will also receive a map to the nine stores where wine is available.
GO, CRANES: The Port of Miami is making way for the arrival of two Chinese heavyweights next month. Each of the two cranes, manufactured by Zhenhua Port Machinery of Shanghai, can handle ships 22 containers wide and has a reach of 213 feet. The Super-post-panamax is fully electrical and powered by 13,200 volts with diesel backup.
COOKING CLASS: Two Chefs, an 8-year-old restaurant owned by chef Jan Jorgenson, is launching weekend cooking classes in the restaurant’s private wine room. "Cooking classes provide the perfect opportunity for home cooks to sharpen their skills and novices to learn the basics," said Mr. Jorgenson, who will teach the class each Saturday through Dec. 18. Price to enroll is $45-$65 per person. Two Chefs is at 8287 S. Dixie Highway. Details: (305) 663-2100.
GOING WIRELESS: The Miami-Dade Public Library System is to use a $250,000 grant from the Florida Department of State to build a wireless network and fund a laptop-lending program. The program is being implemented to help alleviate crowded computer labs at county libraries, said Phyllis Alpert, assistant director of the library system. Users who have laptops equipped with wireless cards could access the library’s system. In addition, the library is to purchase 122 laptops for patrons and staff to use in the libraries, Ms. Alpert said. The new service is expected to be operational next fall.
FLIGHTS RESUME: Massachusetts commercial airline Cape Air is resuming seasonal service between Miami and Naples. On Nov. 4, the airline launched two daily flights from Miami International Airport and plans to introduce two more next month, using small planes that seat up to nine passengers. The carrier operates regularly out of Naples but expands into Miami during the winter, when travel increases.
THE CHANGING TIDES: The Falor Cos., with offices in Miami and Chicago, bought the Tides Hotel, 1220 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, for an undisclosed price. The hotel, with 45 oceanfront units and a 2,600-square-foot penthouse, is Falor’s fifth South Florida acquisition. Robert Falor, president & CEO, said he plans to convert the Tides to a condo hotel. Falor recently retained Kor Hotel Group to manage that hotel and others Falor recently acquired on the Beach, including the Breakwater and Edison. Mr. Falor said units go on sale Dec. 1 starting at $780,000. He said his company plans to buy at least four more hotels in the tri-county area by year’s end. Details: (305) 932-4800.
READY TO RISE: Venera Holdings reports a sell-out over the past five months of its $48 million, seven-story medical-professional office condominium development Plaza San Remo planned on 2.5 acres on the east side of Red Road, bordered by San Remo and Venera avenues. The 100,000-square-foot structure will rise a block south of US 1, said President Ford Gibson. He said office condominiums in the building would range from 1,200 to 20,000 square feet. The complex also is to feature 15,000 square feet of retail around anchor tenant Whole Food Market, which has signed to take 50,000 square feet. Details: Lisa Schunack, (305) 856-4415 or plazasanremo.com.
CORRECTION: In a list of recommendations accompanying our Oct. 28 report on brownfields, Biscayne Commons, a project under way on remediated land, should have been reported as being in North Miami Beach.