Written by Miami Today on January 6, 2005
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HOME PRICES RISE: The average single-family home in Miami-Dade County sold for 25% more in November than in November 2003, according to the Florida Association of Realtors. Demand was static, however, as 934 homes were sold in November, one more than a year earlier. The median cost in November was $290,800, compared to $233,500 a year earlier. In Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, prices rose 28% and 36%, respectively, though demand fell 3% and 12%.
COUNTY COMMITTEES: Miami-Dade County officials Tuesday announced the leaders of the county commission’s six committees. Commissioners Natacha Seijas and Jose "Pepe" Diaz are chairwoman and vice chairman of the infrastructure and land-use committee; Sally Heyman and Dennis Moss will head intergovernmental, recreational and cultural affairs; Barbara Carey-Shuler and Bruno Barreiro will lead the internal-management and fiscal-responsibility committee; Rebeca Sosa and Javier Souto will head community outreach, safety and health-care administration; Carlos Gimenez and Katy Sorenson will lead regional transportation; and Dorrin Rolle and Barbara Jordan will lead community empowerment and economic revitalization.
BOND BOARD: Miami-Dade’s county commission has created its only subcommittee, a group to oversee administration of the $2.925 billion general obligation bond. Bruno Barreiro is chairman of the General Obligation Bond Program Subcommittee, which falls under the commission’s infrastructure and land-use board. Commissioners also are considering creating a citizens group to monitor bond spending. The 21 advisors would include representatives from each of Miami-Dade’s 13 electoral districts.
TRUST POST: The Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust has named a vice chairman but still has an opening. The transportation watchdog group elected engineer Miles Moss to replace former vice chairman Luis Morse. Mr. Morse served for less than six months before resigning in December. His was the latest departure from the organization that has struggled to fill its 15 seats. Since 2003, seven members, including former chairman John Cosgrove, have resigned. The trust is accepting applications to represent District Five. Deadline is Feb. 7. Details: (305) 375-3481.
CHIPPING IN: With the holiday season gone, the Department of Solid Waste Management will help turn pine trees to mulch for residents of several cities and unincorporated Miami-Dade. The department has asked residents of Aventura, Doral, Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay, Miami Gardens, Miami Lakes, Sunny Isles and Sweetwater to drop off stripped Christmas trees at recycling centers at 140 NW 160th St., 21500 NW 47th Ave., 8000 SW 107th Ave. and 1830 NW 79th St. Free mulch chips will be available at 140 NW 160th St. and 9401 SW 184th St.
UNBIDDEN ADVICE: Center for Airport Management of Portland, OR, will continue consulting for Miami-Dade’s Aviation Department after county commissioners waived competitive-bid requirements and extended its contract a year. The company has been advising aviation officials on concession planning and operations since 1997. It’s to help solicit retailers and review tenant proposals. The extension will add $200,000 to the contract for a total of $1.8 million since 1997.
SHERATON ON HOLD: The Related Group of Florida asked the City of Miami Historic and Environmental Preservation Board on Tuesday to defer until Feb. 1 its bid to redevelop the Sheraton Biscayne Bay hotel at 495 Brickell Ave. The board must review work there because it is within the archaeological conservation area next to the historic Miami Circle.
HOSPITAL NEEDS HOME: HCA affiliate Kendall Regional Medical Center, at Florida’s Turnpike and Bird Road, continues to look for 30 to 40 contiguous acres in western Miami-Dade to build an 80-bed hospital, tentatively to be called Tamiami Hospital, said Peter Jude, hospital spokesman. Kendall officials had been interested in land near Tamiami Airport, he said, but the land was deemed too close to the airport for a hospital. "We have the money. We have the certificate of need," he said. What Kendall lacks is a site. Officials have been looking for more than a year.
SIGNS IN: County commissioners have accepted a $100,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation to place signs along nature trails. The grant will help Miami-Dade County’s parks department place signs that highlight safety and environmental issues and point out historic sites. The project will cover 2.5 miles along the northern portion of Biscayne Trail and the trailhead at Black Point Park.
TECH CENTER SOLD: Coconut Grove data specialist Terremark Worldwide Inc. has gained control of the Technology Center of the Americas, hub of its Network Access Point, in a deal valued at $75 million. The operator paid off $35 million in debt and $40 million in equities for the 750,000-square-foot building, freeing up almost $8 million in rent each year. "We’re seeing more customer demand and more customer growth," said company spokeswoman Sandra Gonzalez-Levy. "We’re eliminating huge rental payments." The Northeast Ninth Street facility is dedicated to the electronic provision of Internet services to almost 200 customers worldwide, about half of which are telecom carriers. The staff of 175 remains at the publicly traded company’s South Bayshore Drive offices.
TRANSPORTATION OUTLOOK: A Jan. 21 luncheon conference sponsored by the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will examine transportation issues affecting South Florida. Panelists will be Carlos Bonzon, interim Miami-Dade aviation director; Darryl Sharpton, chairman of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority; Allen Harper, chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority; and Antonio Villamil, president of Washington Economics Group. The conference will be at Wyndham Grand Bay Hotel, 2633 S. Bayshore Dr., Coconut Grove. It’s $40 for chamber members, $45 for others. Details: (305) 534-1903.
LIST TO OPEN: The City of Miami this week was to reopen applications for long-term rental subsidies to low-income persons with AIDS. Applicants are to go on a wait list by random lottery. All 400 eligible applicants were housed last year. The program serves more than 1,200 people. Details: (305) 416-2181.
GABLES BUY: Prospect Aragon, a joint venture of Prospect Capital and the Robert Martin Companies, has been identified as buyer of X Aragon and 55 Miracle Mile, a 15-story mixed-use building at 55 Miracle Mile in Coral Gables. The venture paid $84.5 million. X Aragon consists of 184 residences totaling 201,592 square feet. 55 Miracle Mile consists of 40,590 square feet of retail space and 25,764 square feet of offices. Prospect Aragon, which owns two other properties in Florida, bought the site from Starwood Urban Investments in a deal reported last month.
MLK BIRTHDAY: Several events in Miami-Dade County this month will commemorate the birthday of slain civil-rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., who died in 1968. Religious services, parades, breakfast meetings and a show by the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus are among activities beginning Friday. Details: (305) 375-2836.
ARBITRATION CONFERENCE: Law firm Steel Hector & Davis will host the International Arbitration Conference Jan. 26-28 at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. The conference will focus on such issues as admission of evidence and methods of witness interrogation. Included will be a discussion of Argentinean perspectives on international arbitration by Argentina’s minister of justice, Horacio Rosatti. Former US attorney general Janet Reno also is scheduled to speak. Details: (305) 448-4536.
SYMPHONY GOALS: The Miami Symphony Orchestra, 10300 Sunset Dr., launched a five-year plan to expand its public-school program, add eight concerts a year and expose residents to classical music who haven’t attended concerts. Details: www.miamisymphony.org.
WANTING MORE: The Miami Symphony Orchestra’s new fundraiser hopes to swell the organization’s coffers by $2 million a year by expanding its program and targeting sponsors. Fred Menachem, who’s run political campaigns for former Miami-Dade mayor Alex Penelas, said he wants to double the 16-year-old orchestra’s annual concerts to 16 during his tenure as development and public-relations director, an appointment announced Jan. 4. "I’m looking at acquiring gifts from between $25,000 to $250,000," said the FJM Consulting Group president.