THE METER IS TICKING: A Coral Gables plan to allow commuters to pay for parking by cell phone, once slated to begin in January, is still in the planning stages and has been postponed to mid- or late March, said Gables Parking Director William Carlson. "Mint Inc. is taking longer to set up the program than anticipated," he said. "This is the first time it has been implemented in the US, so it is a learning experience for them." Mint - a Toronto company that provides an electronic payment system through cell phones, magnetic cards and radio-frequency transponders - signed a deal to pilot the public parking program for a year.
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TRANSIT TRY TWO: The Miami-Dade County Commission is to consider an amendment to the People's Transportation Plan on Tuesday that proposes that funds from the transit system surtax be used to cover the operating losses of four fiscal years from 2001 to 2005 and future years, subject to certain conditions. The proposed amendment follows a veto by Mayor Carlos Alvarez of the plan in its previous form when it was passed Feb. 8.
FIVE ROUTES: The Florida Department of Transportation is reviewing a Miami study offering five ways to improve traffic flow in the Dupont Plaza area downtown, said Jose Gonzalez, city transportation coordinator. The city aims to convert one-way streets to two-way as new towers rise in the plaza. A key goal is a better flow of traffic between Interstate 95 and downtown. The city sent the five alternatives to the state in October. "There is no actual deadline, and we are not pressing them on it," he said. "FDOT is doing an independent traffic analysis, and the environmental study is still moving along."
ARROW EXPANDS: Arrow Cargo this month is acquiring a 120,000-square-foot warehouse and office complex at Miami International Airport. The complex, next to the company's existing facilities, is to double the size of the airline's logistics center to more than 240,000 square feet, according to company officials. Arrow, which officials say transports 1.2 million pounds of freight a day to Latin America, announced plans to add up to five DC10s to its cargo fleet after moving out of bankruptcy reorganization in June.
AT THE PLATE: Miami's City Commission today (2/24) is to consider a resolution authorizing City Manager Joe Arriola to execute a non-binding memorandum of understanding among Miami-Dade County, the city and the Florida Marlins to design, develop, construct, operate and finance a $420 million, 38,000-seat baseball stadium and related parking adjacent to the Orange Bowl Stadium. If approved, the memorandum is to serve as a stepping-stone for future legal agreement that would address terms of construction and maintenance.
SUPPORT, IF...: Colombia President Alvaro Uribe has agreed to support Miami as headquarters for the planned Free Trade Agreement of the Americas as a second choice. While welcoming a Florida delegation visiting Colombia this week, he told Gov. Jeb Bush and 180 Florida businessmen that Colombia would support Miami if Panama withdraws its candidacy. "Florida and Colombia have a long tradition of economic, cultural and educational ties," said Jorge Arrizurieta, president of the Florida FTAA. "This visit strengthens our relation with Colombia and the entire hemisphere."
ROAD SHOW: The America's Linkage Program is going on a one-month tour to Latin America. The idea of the program, created in 2000 by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and American Airlines, is to promote Florida's exports and services south of the border. Starting in Santiago, Chile, April 18, the mission will tour eight other cities before ending in Mexico City on May 18. "This is a great opportunity for a business who wants to open new markets," said Maria Masvidal-Visser, chamber vice president of international business development. The program so far has generated $600 million in service trade for 5,000 companies, the chamber says. Details: Marina Foglia, (305) 577-5464 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARTS-TURNED-ART CENTER: The Performing Arts Center is looking to South Florida artists to provide works to decorate interiors of the venue, set to complete in August 2006, the trust announced Tuesday. Proposals are being solicited until April 11 as part of a commissioning project titled Incubator. Works may be in any medium, on any scale and suitable for interior or exterior. The project is being supported by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs. Details: (305) 579-7627 or www.miamipac.org.
NO MEZZANOTTE: Piero Filpi has shut down one of his five Miami-Dade County restaurants because, he said, Coconut Grove has peaked. Mezzanotte was closed Feb. 15 after 10 years at the Streets of Mayfair, he said, because the complex is less busy and restaurant-goers favor Coral Gables. "The center went through a lot of changes, which really hurt our business. Lunch business fell away, and when we lost the theaters from the center, the traffic went to CocoWalk. Then there have been a number of restaurant openings in Coral Gables, and there's now a shift there." He still runs Carnevale on South Beach, Carpaccio in Bal Harbour, Puccini & Pasta at Dadeland Mall, Splendido in Coral Gables and three other restaurants outside the county.
LOOK SOUTH, CHAMBER SAYS: The Brazilian American Chamber of Commerce is hosting a workshop-luncheon at noon today (2/24) to discuss the importance of US and European companies doing business in South America. The meeting is at Porçao restaurant, 801 Brickell Bay Drive. Admission is $30 for members, $35 for non-members. Details: (305) 579-9030 or (954) 965-1184.
UNITED'S WAY: The United Way of Miami-Dade has allocated more than $14 million of community investment funds to be released July 1. The money is earmarked for three of the four areas the non-profit's board decided in 2003 to focus on when it revamped the methods by which it distributes money. The $14.1 million is targeted for 143 programs at 58 non-profit agencies. United Way has earmarked almost $8 million for child and family programs, about $4 million for health education and more than $2 million is to fund basic and emergency needs. Staff and volunteers will support the fourth priority of "encouraging neighborhood and civic involvement" through an in-kind educational program.
BRIDGING THE GAP: A public meeting to discuss issues arising from construction along Southwest 97th Avenue including a delayed bridge planned for the cross section with Southwest 16th Street is to be held Feb. 24. County commissioner Javier Souto is among those expected to attend the meeting at the West Dade Regional Library, 9445 Coral Way.
BANKER HONORED: Bank United President and CEO Ramiro Ortiz will be honored by the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as 2005 Banker of the Year. The ceremony will be at noon March 10 at Bongo's Cuban CafÈ, 601 Biscayne Blvd. The luncheon will feature Florida Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings as keynote speaker. Tickets at the door are $45 for members, $50 for non-members. Reservations: (305) 534-1903.
COMMUNICATIONS DEAL: A Miami Beach company has acquired a controlling interest in Movida Communications Inc. - a group that has been targeting its wireless voice and data services to the US Hispanic market. How much the Cisneros Group of Companies paid for the stake, it didn't disclose. Movida is to use the Sprint nationwide wireless network and plans to sell handsets and pay-as-you-go cards at selected Wal-Mart stores. The Cisneros Group, formerly based in Venezuela, has interests in a number of media organizations, breweries and a supermarket chain across the Americas.
SHERATON SITE ON TAP: The Related Group, one of South Florida's most active developers, is to go before the City of Miami's Historic and Environmental Preservation board Tuesday for approval of construction in an archeological conservation area after deferring the request four times. Related, which in December spent more than $100 million to buy the Sheraton Biscayne Bay hotel, 495 Brickell Ave., a 4.7-acre waterfront property, plans to tear it down the two-decade-old hotel and replace it with three residential towers, the smallest 45-48 stories, followed by a 52-55 story and lastly a 55-57 tower, Related Vice President Bill Thompson has said. The hotel is immediately south of the Miami Circle, which is considered a 2,000-year-old artifact created by native Americans.
NEW MIAMI OPERATION: Crawford & Company International Inc., an Atlanta-based insurance services provider, has named Mauricio Alonso senior vice president and regional director of its Latin America and Caribbean operations. He is to assume his new duties March 1 at Crawford's new Latin American and Caribbean headquarters in Miami. He previously was at vice president of Latin America Claims Division of AIG.