Written by Miami Today on January 20, 2005
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BUILD IT FASTER: Miami, in the midst of a massive development boom, has created a rapid review for building permits. A Public Works Department study showed a significant demand, and the city commission approved the program Thursday. In-house reviews by a public-works examiner will cost $250 and outside reviews, directed to a consultant by the Public Works Department, will cost review fees plus 15%. "This code change allows the Public Works Department to perform expedited plan reviews on plans submitted to the building department for permit processing only," said Stephanie Grindell, public-works director. "The details are not yet nailed down."
WATSON ISLAND LEASE: The Miami City Commission last week approved spending $20,000 more for legal services from Gunster Yoakley & Stewart on the lease and development on Watson Island by Flagstone Properties LLC. Flagstone’s proposed $426 million island project, approved by voters in 2001, includes two luxury high-rise hotels, 50 marina slips and more than 230,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space.
RACE TO SETTLE: Miami agreed to take 40 cents on the dollar from ex-downtown Grand Prix promoter Raceworks, settling a debt of $15,348 for $6,139. In 2002, Raceworks agreed to produce the event and pay fees for all tickets sold. "As you all know, Raceworks will be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and therefore, as they say, we are better off getting as much as we can before they call off the leading man and we get X amount of dollars," Commissioner Joe Sanchez said before Thursday’s settlement vote. "Just a little business sense – that is why I support the item."
BOWLING: Miami-Dade County, which is to host Super Bowl XXXXI in 2007, is bidding for the 2009 game, too. With a probable economic impact of $330 million, according to industry officials, the 2009 Super Bowl also is attracting bids from Atlanta, Houston and Tampa. Last week, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau President Bill Talbert flew to New York to meet with National Football League officials. "The NFL presented specifications and requirements to host the Super Bowl," he said. "Since we are hosting the game in 2007, we are very well-versed. I think we have a chance." If the area hosts in 2009, it would tie New Orleans in number of Super Bowls hosted with nine. A decision for 2009 is expected May 27.
BOWLERS: Six members were appointed to the Orange Bowl Advisory Committee at last week’s Miami City Commission meeting. Twelve appointees were needed to replace members whose terms expire Monday. Appointed were Ron Stone, Rick Rodriguez Pina, Theodora Long, Arthur Hertz, Jorge Luis Lopez and Lazaro Lopez.
JOINING TRUST: Insurance agent Enrique Bello is the newest member of the Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust, which was created to oversee spending of the half-cent sales tax for transportation approved in November 2002. Mr. Bello officially joins the watchdog group Jan. 31, when he is to be sworn in. He replaces Hermino Lorenzo as trust representative for District 13. His appointment leaves one vacancy on the 15-member trust.
NEWCOMERS: A promotion to gain new business brought 1,000 new customers to BankUnited. The bank ran a contest as part of its 20th anniversary in October, offering clients a chance to win up to $20,000. About 3,400 people participated in the drawing that saw 1,000 open deposit accounts at branches across the state. Boca Raton resident Richard Boulier won the $20,000 grand prize.
TARGET PRACTICE: Before the Miami City Commission passed a resolution allowing the police department to buy 240 tasers Thursday, Commissioner Joe Sanchez had one wry comment: "My recommendation is we try it on the city manager first." City Manager Joe Arriola responded: "Not before I sign a document with city police to make sure they have the right dosage."
STILL PLANNING: Four of the 10 members of Miami’s Planning Advisory Board whose terms expired this month were unanimously reappointed last week by the city commission. They are Denis Rod, Arva Moore Parks McCabe, Tamara Gort and the Rev. Guillermo Revuelta. The board makes recommendations to the commission on the city’s comprehensive planning program.
MORE JOBS, MORE WORKERS: The state jobs outlook for 2005 may not be as positive as statistics imply, said Bruce Nissen, director of research at Florida International University’s Center for Labor Research and Studies. Florida is expected to be a national leader in job growth due to increased construction and personal-service jobs, he said, but the growth may be surpassed by growth of the working-age population. State job growth has failed to beat the growth of working-age population since before the recession of March 2001, he said. "I’ll say we are completely out of the hole when that happens."
LIBER HONORED: At the request of Chairman Joe Sanchez, the Miami City Commission last week unanimously named Northwest First Street between 11th and 12th avenues for Moises Liber, who helped found Clinica Cubana in the early 1960s. The request came from daughter Betty Liber and friend Antonio Llano Montes in June. With just $1,000, Mr. Liber opened the clinic that provided medical services at $30 a month to thousands of new Cuban Americans. He died in 1966.
MOVE OVER, MADISON AVENUE: Advertising Age has named Coconut Grove ad firm Crispin Porter Bogusky, 2699 S. Bayshore Dr., its agency of the year. The firm jumped from 40 employees and $40 million in billings eight years ago to 200 employees and $300 million in billings in 2004. Its biggest account is another local company, Burger King.
ART DRIPPO: Rain last week probably accounted for a 30% dip in the number of tours taken during Art Deco weekend, the Miami Design Preservation League’s executive director said. "Our tours were down, but sales were up," said Bill Farkas. "It was a significant jump, something like 10%, which was unexpected." With good weather, the league could have expected up to 400,000 visitors, he said, but the number probably was closer to 350,000. Concessions did well, he said. "The vendors were very happy with Saturday and Sunday sales, which is good. It means they’ll be back."
FISHERS OF MEN: Getting back to work in the new year proved a little more challenging for one Palmetto Bay teacher than the rest of us. The Rev. Adrian Parry returned to teach at Palmer Trinity School on Tuesday after a two-week stay in Thailand to help the tsunami relief efforts, compounded by a 37-hour return flight. "It shouldn’t have taken that long, but my baggage was lost in Chicago," said the priest, who was back in the classroom after arriving at Miami International Airport at 2:45 a.m. The school has set up a fund and hopes to help purchase fishing boats for people whose livelihoods were damaged by the floods.
ARTS CENTER OUTSOURCING: The Performing Arts Center Trust is investigating how it might outsource facility management jobs such as engineering, custodial and security to commercial companies. Members of the Facility Management Task Force are to meet potential bidders Jan. 28. "We’re meeting with representatives from about six or seven firms from around the country," said trust president Michael Hardy. "We’ve got companies who want to do one of those, we’ve got companies who want to do all of those." The outcome of the talks will determine whether the trust puts the jobs out to bid. Jan. 28 is also the deadline for a sponsorship deal for the flooring in the concert hall.