Written by Miami Today on March 10, 2005
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WORLD OF SPORTS: Bayfront Park Management Trust Executive Director Timothy F. Schmand should become interim head of the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority, City Manager Joe Arriola proposed Friday. The leaderless authority, which moved out of Miami Arena after its sale and is now at the Community Redevelopment Agency, 49 NW Fifth St., is to handle agreements with developers on Watson Island, Chalk’s Ocean Airways and the Miami Children’s Museum. "We want to keep the structure of MSEA," Mr. Schmand said. "In a perfect world, the Orange Bowl renovation should be completed January 2007 – then MSEA can represent it." A committee is reshaping the group’s future, and its proposals are to go to the authority’s board March 22.
TOWERING DELAYS: The Miami Historic and Environmental Preservation Board cancelled its meeting last week, deferring for the fourth time action on the Sheraton Biscayne Bay redevelopment at 495 Brickell Ave. The hotel site is in an archeological conservation area beside the historic Miami Circle. "Unfortunately, the board did not have a quorum, so there was no meeting," preservation officer Sarah Eaton said. The hotel, on the $100 million-plus, 4.7-acre waterfront property purchased by The Related Group in December, is to be replaced by three towers – one of 45 to 48 stories, one of 52 to 55 stories and a third of 55 to 57 stories. "We have been told by the owner that they plan to withdraw the item and resubmit it at a later date when they have everything ready," Ms. Eaton said. The board is to meet next April 5.
ON THE ROAD: Workers Tuesday began converting Flagler Street from one-way to two-way downtown. MCM Engineers and General Contractors also will resurface several streets and improve traffic signage and signals in the area. Zimri Prendes, a spokesman for the City of Miami, said the $9.1 million project is to be finished in December. Work will be on Flagler from Second Avenue to Biscayne Boulevard; on First Street from Northwest First Avenue to Biscayne; on Southeast First Street from Southeast First to Third avenues; and on Third Avenue from Southeast Fourth to Northeast First streets.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau’s sales staff launches its annual three-month blitz this week, heading to 42 cities and 7,500 travel agents to promote the summer season. After last year’s blitz, June-August hotel occupancy rose 7 points from 2003 to 65.7% – still below the nation’s 69.7%. "The summer is an entirely different scenario because domestic market becomes extremely competitive," said David Whitaker, bureau marketing vice president. The bureau will tour eight more cities than last year, including Louisville during the Kentucky Derby.
CLEVELAND-MIAMI AXIS: The Cleveland Orchestra’s participation at the Miami Performing Arts Center hasn’t been confirmed despite reports, the center’s president said Tuesday. A deal to showcase the orchestra for three weeks a year for 10 years hasn’t been concluded, CEO Michael Hardy told the Performing Arts Center Trust, but is still under discussion. If a deal is made, the orchestra would be a resident. Tickets would be sold through the center’s ticketing system exempt of surcharges.
WORKING ON OPUS: Opus, a proposed 408-unit, 58-story condo next to Interstate 395 at 1237 Biscayne Blvd. and 324 and 444 NE 13th St., is tentatively slated to be reconsidered March 24 by the Miami City Commission, said Luciana Lamardo-Gonzalez, the city’s special projects coordinator. Action was continued from the Jan. 27 meeting. Florida Department of Transportation officials fear Opus would disrupt highway improvements. "We are still under negotiations with (the Florida Department of Transportation)," said Lucia Dougherty, attorney at Greenberg Traurig who represents the developer. "It’s going to take at least another month."
HYUNDAI UNIT GROWS: Mobis Parts America has added 60,000 square feet to its Latin American headquarters at Flagler Station Business Park, 10805 NW 100th St. in Medley. Now Mobis, a subsidiary of Korea’s Hyundai Automotive Group, occupies 180,000 square feet. Operations began there in November 2003 with a $1.2 million capital investment. "We needed the additional 60,000 square feet because Hyundai is gaining market share in Latin America faster than we anticipated," said Bosoon Yim, president of Mobis. "At this pace, we believe we can meet our target of employing 30 full-time employees by mid-2007."
SELLER BEWARE: Properties in some areas of Florida have appreciated an average 150% in the past five years, said Joao Carlos Correa, loan processor for Solaris Mortgage Bankers of Coral Gables. The skyrocketing values have led some owners to price their properties against neighbors and overestimate their value, he said. "Listing agents should require appraisals before listing properties," he said, so contracts aren’t rejected during mortgage processing. He said he rejected three contracts in February due to overpricing.
MANY DOLLARS, FEW DEALS: Office and retail investors last month discussed a dwindling number of bargains in a strong South Florida market during a Trammell Crow-sponsored meeting. Representatives of Trammell Crow said sellers have the upper hand now as improving fundamentals attract capital from around the world. Morgan Stanley representatives joked that they and other finance companies are buying more than $6 billion in property north of South Florida because they have no other options after selling most of their holdings.
SHIFT AT MERCY: Mercy Hospital has a new chairwoman, architect Barbara Cekosh, replacing Elizabeth Worley, who became CEO of Catholic Hospice in Hialeah. "We want to make communities aware of our modern, up-to-date facility," Sister Cekosh said. "I am looking forward to getting involved." One of the biggest problems in the industry, she said, is not being able to provide health care for enough patients. "Many people don’t have adequate health care," she said. She is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph in St. Augustine, which has overseen Mercy since its 1950 founding.
MEDIATE, DON’T LITIGATE: A court directed Key Biscayne condo owners suing their management company to mediate first, the defendants’ attorney said. Circuit Judge Marc Schumacher on Monday "dismissed large sections of the claim," said John Shubin of Shubin & Bass, "and abated other parts pending mediation." On Jan. 10, resident associations from Grand Bay Towers I and II alleged financial irregularity and a lack of transparency in proceedings against Grand Bay Master Association, GB/JT Hotel Partners, Donald Lefton and Sherwood Weiser – litigation Mr. Shubin said was premature in light of Florida’s mediation statute.
MOVING UP: Stroock and Stroock and Lavan of New York has named Manuel Fernandez managing partner of the law firm’s Miami office at 200 Biscayne Blvd. He joined its real estate group in 1994. "Our goal is to continue to find partners consistent with financial services, real estate, litigation and bankruptcy," he said. "Florida continues to be an internationally recognized focal point of growth and increased economic activity."
HALL OF FAME: The Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau are to honor Steven Haas, general manager of Tuscan Steak House, with the Travel & Tourism Hall of Fame award April 14 at a luncheon at Loews Miami Beach Hotel. Tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at the door. RSVP: Martin Calderon, (305) 695-6817, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FREE-TRADE COUNTDOWN: The Free Trade Area of the Americas and Miami’s role will be the topic of an International Roundtable today (3/10). The session, open to the public, will feature panelists Jorge Arrizurieta, president of Florida FTAA Inc.; Carl Cera, director of the Summit of the Americas Center at Florida International University; and Manuel Lasaga, president of Strategy Information Analysis Inc. Michael Hayes, Miami Today international editor, will moderate. The 5 p.m. panel, sponsored by Commercebank and Miami Today, will be at Commercebank, 220 Alhambra Circle, 12th floor, Coral Gables. RSVP: Amy Sossa, (305) 358-1008.
CORRECTION: A story Feb. 24 inaccurately described how the Miami Art Museum will use $75 million it plans to raise to move to Museum Park. The funds will be put toward an endowment.
CORRECTION: A March 3 article and photo caption headlined "Office condos appeal to small niche, real estate pros say," inaccurately reported the location of EquiProperty. Principal Hank Bush formed the Miami company at 1000 Brickell Ave. in 2000.