Written by Miami Today on April 28, 2005
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LAND SALE WAITS: A vote to sell land for a 1,050-unit downtown housing redevelopment might not go before the Community Redevelopment Agency board until June, Director Frank Rollason said. "I am still waiting for legal counsel to advise me. I know it is not on the May agenda, so it might have to wait until June." The agency chose Crosswinds to finish a disputed four-block project bounded by Northwest Eighth and Sixth streets, Interstate 95 and First Court that has been in limbo since 1988. The city auctioned the land in March under a covenant requiring the high bidder to build housing. Miami Arena owner Glenn Straub bid $1.2 million and Crosswinds bid $32,000. Mr. Rollason said the agency won’t focus on the higher bid but what is best for the project.
ONE WAY VS. TWO WAY: The Florida Department of Transportation has reviewed the downtown Miami Traffic Re-circulation Study on converting one-way into two-way streets, and a city consultant is to address concerns within the next five weeks, Miami transportation coordinator Jose Gonzalez said. Five alternatives were submitted to the department in October. The study aims to aid redevelopment and improve accessibility between Interstate 95 and downtown. Parsons Brinckerhoff is doing independent analysis to address the state agency’s concerns about the development and environmental study. Mr. Gonzalez said that after the analysis is complete, the transportation department and stakeholders will have a meeting to discuss a preferred alternative.
WYNWOOD ART SCENE: Lionstone, which owns Ritz-Carlton, South Beach, says it will build a cultural center to house about 15 art galleries, a restaurant and a cafe in Miami’s Wynwood area. Lionstone officials are set to open the complex at North Miami Avenue and Northeast 20th Street in early 2006, said CEO Alfredo Lowenstein. Art Basel Miami Beach creator Lorenzo A. Rudolf is to consult on gallery selection and marketing. "We’re betting on his knowledge to put all this together," Mr. Lowenstein said. "Our vision is to have an international gallery center with collections from the whole country and abroad."
BRAZILIAN MATCHUPS: The American Chamber of Commerce for Brazil will hold matchmaking sessions at the Miami Free Zone in Doral at 5 p.m. May 4. The Sao Paulo-based chamber will send 13 Brazilian businessmen to meet with free-zone tenants to check on potential business relationships. The Brazilians will be in town for the Fispal Food Show at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
CAMILLUS TRIES AGAIN: Camillus House officials pulled a bid from the Miami zoning board’s April 25 agenda for approval to move their rescue mission from downtown to the Civic Center area. "We are working on another site the city would like to see us on about two or three blocks south of the current site," spokesman Sam Gil said. "The site is a little bit smaller. The only issue would be parking." Camillus House officials have been trying to get permission to move since the 1980s. Mr. Gil said he would have information on a new site within three to four months. If a deal falters, he said, Camillus House officials will ask the zoning board to approve the original Civic Center site.
MUSEUM HEAD LEAVES: Frost Art Museum has become the second institution this month to announce the departure of a long-serving director. Dahlia Morgan, who managed the collection at Florida International University for more than 20 years, has retired. Assistant Stacey de la Grana has stepped in as acting director while FIU selects a replacement. Two weeks ago, Miami Art Museum revealed that Suzanne Delehanty would leave Dec. 31 after 10 years. Her replacement is to be installed by year’s end.
WINDOWS: Biscayne Boulevard will define downtown to millions of visitors, according to Miami’s Downtown Development Authority. More than 100,000 work downtown, about 30,000 live within a mile and 10,000 to 15,000 will move nearby in three to five years, the authority says. "All of these market segments overlap on Biscayne Boulevard," Executive Director Dana Nottingham said. "In that regard, Biscayne Boulevard is our window on the world and will be a window that we will look through in seeing our future in terms of how downtown’s position is strengthened as an international hospitality destination and business center."
MARKETING BAYSIDE: Marie Balbuena is new marketing manager at Bayside Marketplace, replacing Jim McMichael. After six years at Burdines, she joined General Growth Properties in mid-April with ambitious expansion plans for the downtown mall. "We don’t have anything to announce yet because we are currently putting all divisions in a program," she said. "The mall has so much potential, it is unbelievable."
POLICE MUSEUM: A Miami building constructed 55 years ago to segregate black police officers from their colleagues is undergoing conversion to a museum and educational facility. Restoration of the Old Black Police Precinct at 1009 NW Fifth Ave. was celebrated Tuesday by city commissioners, retired officers and guests. Homeland Defense Bonds sponsored by the Department of State, the Division of Historical Resources, the Florida Historical Commission and the state will pay for the conversion. The facility is to reopen as a police museum and tutoring facility for students from Booker T. Washington High, Douglas Elementary, Dunbar Elementary and Phillis Wheatley Elementary schools.
HONORING VOLUNTEERS: Those nominating volunteers for the 15th annual United Way of Miami-Dade awards have until May 22. Winners are to be honored June 28 at the nonprofit’s annual meeting at the Radisson Miami. "We’re looking for individuals who have demonstrated exceptional dedication or compassion within the community," said Eileen Fragomeno, media relations director. The outstanding volunteer, human-service professional and community builder will receive plaques. The outstanding youth will receive two roundtrip tickets to any city in the US from American Airlines.
LIVE, WORK AND STUDY: FIU’s graduate business school is accepting applications for a downtown MBA program. Officials are targeting downtown workers interested in twice-weekly classes for 18 months. School research showed downtown workers would rather study close by than battle rush-hour traffic, according to a college newsletter. FIU and Macy’s are in final negotiations to open the campus in August on the sixth floor of Macy’s, 22 E Flagler St. Details: dtmba.fiu.edu.
BIOPARK LEASE SET: Miami-Dade County officials approved a 75-year lease for Poinciana Partners to build a mixed-use pharmaceutical complex that is to bring hundreds of jobs to Liberty City. Town Center Properties is to start building Poinciana Park, a $120 million project on a county Empowerment Trust site near Northwest 79th Street and 27th Avenue. Phase one is to include 1.1 million square feet – 600,000 for office industrial and manufacturing, 60,000 for retail and the rest for 100 apartments. The site is to have an outpatient clinic and a training center for biotech jobs.
LATIN AMERICA FORUM: The Atlas Economic Research Foundation is hosting a two-day Liberty Forum concluding today (4/28) at the Hyatt Regency downtown focusing on such issues in Latin America as Ecuador’s political crisis and democracy in Venezuela. "This year’s forum will focus on topics of private security, education, urban policy and free trade," said Alex Chafuen, foundation president and CEO. Details: Angela D’Costa, (305) 491-1047.
BATISTA MEMORABILIA: The widow of the Cuban president who preceded Fidel Castro has donated thousands of her late husband’s belongings to the University of Miami. Martha Batista, whose husband, Fulgencio, died in exile in Spain in 1973, made the gift to UM’s Cuban Heritage Collection. The gift, which is to be housed in the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion in the Otto G. Richter Library, includes books, letters and photographs.
MEDICARE DEAL: Preferred Care Partners is buying the Medicare business of Neighborhood Health Partnership, pending approval of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The two say they expect the deal to close by June 1. Terms weren’t disclosed. Neighborhood Health customers’ benefits wouldn’t change. The deal covers the HMO’s 38,000 members and brings Preferred Care’s membership to about 45,000.