Written by Miami Today on February 17, 2005
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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PRICES UP, SALES DIP: The average resale price for a single-family home in Miami-Dade County in the final quarter of 2004 was $291,800, up 23% from $237,000 in the same quarter of 2003. But the number of resales dropped 4% from 3,136, figures from the Orlando-based Florida Association of Realtors show. Resale prices compare favorably with a state average of $193,200, a rise of 22%.
UPDATE UPDATE: The Miami City Commission last week put off its required financial update and budget outlook until Feb. 24. City tax income is expected to double by 2006, officials say. "From 2003 to 2004, we grew $3 billion in taxable value," said Larry Spring, chief of budgeting and strategic planning – "75% was due to existing property and 25% to remaining new construction."
SHIPPING IN: Half of the cruise passengers through Miami are extending their stay before or after their voyage, according to an economic-impact study by the Port of Miami. With 3.5 million cruise passengers through the city for the year ending Sept. 30, 1.8 million tourists contributed millions of dollars to the economy, said port director Charles Towsley. "The average cruise passenger expenditure is about $89 a day," he told an audience at the State-of-the-Ports luncheon at the downtown Miami Hyatt Regency. "Overnighters spend an average of $280."
BYE-BYE ARENA: The Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority’s finance committee agreed Tuesday that authority financial advisor Richard Berkowitz, president of Berkowitz Dick Pollack & Brant, should draft a $28,000 agreement to sell its arena and office equipment to new arena owner Glenn Straub while cutting off lease negotiations with the arena, where the authority now has its offices. Committee Chairman Samuel Gentry recommended that the authority chairman, Mayor Manny Diaz, set up a meeting to discuss the authority’s future. The panel met at City Hall.
CRITICAL PLANNING: North Miami Vice Mayor Michael R. Blynn was elected vice chairman of the South Florida Regional Planning Council, a tri-county group that reviews major development projects and local government comprehensive plans for Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties. The council identifies challenges facing the region and assists leaders in developing strategies that improve communities, the environment and the economy. Mr. Blynn has served on the council’s board for four years.
FILM HIGHLIGHTS: Box-office returns at this year’s Miami International Film Festival were up 39% from last year, chief sponsor Miami Dade College reported. Ticket sales for the Feb. 4-13 event brought in $398,703, topping $287,581 last year, while attendance rose 19% from just more than 50,000 to more than 60,000. The festival offered almost 50% more films and more than 50% more screenings this year. Organizers also surpassed a fundraising target of $1 million by almost 10%.
MIAMI APPOINTEES: By a unanimous vote at last week’s Miami City Commission meeting, Commissioner Johnny Winton appointed Yvonne McDonald and Patrick Range Jr. to the Equal Opportunity Advisory Board. Vice Chairman Angel Gonzalez appointed Gaston Smith and Commissioner Jeffery Allen appointed Charles Flowers and Charles Cutler Jr. Mr. Allen’s bid to name James Black to the Planning Advisory Board failed for lack of a second. City Manager Joe Arriola said Mr. Black has given the city many problems and he didn’t want him on the board. Commissioner Tomas Regalado’s request to appoint Luis Revuelta and Kricket Snow to the Planning Advisory Board passed unanimously.
FROM IRAQ TO CITY HALL: A former aide in the White House and the State Department, Jose Mallea, was appointed chief of staff for Miami Mayor Manny Diaz this week. Mr. Mallea was a member of the State Department’s Iraq task force assisting the economic restructuring of Iraq.
WHO’S NEW: Purchasers of the 511,701-square-foot mixed-use Ten Aragon in Coral Gables have been identified as Prospect Capital Group and the Robert Martin Co. They bought out Starwood Urban for about $80 million Dec. 23. Residences are at 10 Aragon Ave., commercial units at 55 Miracle Mile. Just less than 60% of the 66,000 square feet of retail and a third of the residential space was leased when the deal closed. "The commercial units are only just complete," said Tim Jones, managing director of New York-based Robert Martin. "City Cellars is now under construction, which it wasn’t when we purchased the building, and Max’s Grill is coming soon. Residential just became available in July, and we will start selling next month." Robert Martin is moving into the Miami-Dade market as Washington-based Starwood is departing. "We’re looking at residential and retail opportunities," Mr. Jones said. "Starwood was liquidating a fund, and this was one of the last assets." In October, Starwood sold eight properties in Coral Gables and two in Miami Beach for $54.1 million.
FAR EAST MISSION: Miami-Dade County’s Jay Malina International Trade Consortium will lead a March 7-20 mission to Malaysia and three cities in China – Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tianjin. "Our No. 1 priority is to promote commerce so we can create jobs in Miami-Dade County," said County Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz, leading the mission as consortium chairman. He said he expects about 25 people on the trip. In Malaysia, Florida’s 16th-largest trade partner, the mission will promote the medical and biotechnology sector, electronics, energy, aviation, information technology, education and services. In China, the focus will be on manufacturing, franchising and services. Details: (305) 375-1254 or (305) 375-5420.
CHINA TIES: The Florida-China Association will sponsor a presentation on how to do business in China at 4 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. Guest speaker will be Wang Shu Zun, vice chairman of the congress of Tianjin, China’s third-largest city. Details: Dave Woodward, (305) 569-2639.