Written by Miami Today on July 21, 2005
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HOTELS DOING WELL: Miami-Dade County is building a solid tourism season in the summer, traditionally slow. According to Smith Travel Research, county hotels averaged 65.8% occupancy in the first week of July, slightly surpassing the national average of 65.6%. It’s a 7% increase from the same week in 2004. At the same time, room rates continue to rise. For July 3-9, room rates in the county averaged $105 per night, up 18.5% from 2004. Room rates around the nation and state averaged $88 and $90, respectively.
HOT SUMMER TOURISM: Miami-Dade County areas benefiting most from this month’s increase in summer visitors are Miami Beach with 68.8% hotel occupancy, up 4.7% from a year ago, and airport areas with 67.8%, up 8%. Coral Gables also had increases, with hotels 65% full, up 9.6%. Downtown Miami had a 58.5% rate, a 9.8% increase from summer 2004. The Beach had the biggest jump in room rates, 25.4%, with per-night rates averaging $134, followed by downtown hotels at $89, an 11.8% spike. All statistics are for July 3-9, according to Smith Travel Research.
HOME IMPROVEMENT: Camillus House plans a number of improvements to its shelter at 726 NE First Ave., says president Paul Ahr. "We plan on taking down the overhang at Northeast First Avenue and Seventh Street," he said. "There will be significant repainting, and the entrance is to be moved to the side so that visitors have to cross the property. We also plan to have more manpower so that we are able to move people along." The capacity of the shelter will be increased to 50 beds from 26 to accommodate more people during severe weather.
FONTAINEBLEAU ANEW: Fontainebleau Spa & Resort, purchased May 13 by Turnberry Associates of Aventura, is about to undergo a $400 million renovation. The former Hilton property in Miami Beach will be expanded from 1,338 rooms to 1,750. The renovation includes new condo-hotel suites. According to Tom Bruny, the hotel’s marketing vice president, construction should start next spring and be complete in early 2008. The hotel is to remain open during renovations.
TRANSIT-FUND HUNT: Officials plan an August trip to Washington, DC, to discuss financing for Metrorail expansions, said Tarnell Carroll, Miami-Dade Transit spokesman. The north corridor project, from 215th Street and Northwest 27th Avenue south to the Martin Luther King station on Northwest 75th Street, is estimated to cost $843 million and be ready in 2012. The $1.3 billion east-west link, to run from the planned Miami Intermodal Center to Florida International University, is to be finished in 2014. The Florida Department of Transportation has pledged to finance 25% of both projects if the federal government provides 50%.
BUDGETING IN AVENTURA: The city commission is to review Aventura’s 2006 budget at 10 a.m. today (7/21) at the government center, 9200 W. Country Club Dr. Commissioners also are to set a tentative tax rate for 2005-06. "For the 10th consecutive year, we won’t have a tax hike," Mayor Susan Gottlieb said, adding that the city has the lowest millage rate in the county at 2.227 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
CARGO SHOW RETURNS: Air Cargo Americas is returning to Miami. The biannual show is scheduled for Oct. 26-28 at the Radisson Centre, 777 NW 72nd Ave. This year’s theme is Air Cargo Security: Safeguarding or Jeopardizing Trade? Speakers will include Miguel Southwell, assistant director of business development for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department; David Brooks, president of American Airlines’ cargo division; and John Mullen, CEO of DHL Americas. Robert Berrios, Air Cargo Americas sales director, said the show in 2003 generated $147 million in business. Details: (305) 871-7910 or email@example.com.
ASIAN TALKS: The Miami Free Zone in Doral will host the Asian Business Conference on Aug. 4 with talks about opportunities in China, Japan and Korea. Speakers are to include the consul general of China from Houston, Hu Yeshun, whose jurisdiction includes Florida; Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz; Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez; Enterprise Florida Senior Vice President Manny Mencia; and Miami Free Zone President Ralph Gazitua. Admission is $20. The Miami Free Zone is at 2305 NW 107th Ave. Details (305) 569-2639 or (305) 591-4300.
FAR EAST TRIP: The Asian Business Conference will preview an October mission to the Far East set up by Enterprise Florida, the Florida-China Association, the Southeast US Japan Association and the Korean Business Council. The group is to land Oct. 16 in Tokyo, travel to Korea to participate Oct. 20 in the Seoul International Air Show and then visit Beijing. Organizers may take up to 70 delegates. The trip is to extend to Oct. 28. "China is the United States’ fastest-growing market," said Dave Woodward, executive director of the Florida-China Association. "As China gears up to the 2008 Olympics and the World Expo in 2010, the country becomes one of the world’s greatest consumers." Details: (305) 569-2639.
MONEY TRANSFERS: The Florida International Bankers Association will present a congress on money remittances at 8:30 a.m. July 25 at the Hotel InterContinental Miami downtown. "This meeting aims to bring together money-transfer companies with their counterparts in Latin America to talk about issues that confront both parties," said Jorge Guerrero, CEO of Optima Compliance and Consulting, one of the organizers. "One solution is to create a hemispheric-wide association to develop recommended practices." Details: (305) 579-0086. Admission is $300.
AIRPORT VENDORS: The Miami-Dade Aviation Department will host a July 28 workshop for small and disadvantaged businesses seeking to sell products or services to Miami International Airport. The free workshop will provide information regarding financing, insurance and bonding. Details: Lourdes Borrego, (305) 876-7753 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Reservations are required.
CHILD’S PLAY: The PlayGround Theatre for Young Audiences is $5,000 richer, thanks to the Miami branch of Smith Barney. The gift is to be used for a community outreach program that is to provide free tickets to children and families. The company, founded last year by Stephanie Ansin and husband Oleg Kheyfets, has hosted more than 2,600 children from groups that include Amigos for Kids, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami and Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida.
SCHOOL GRADES: The Florida Department of Education has awarded Miami-Dade County Public Schools a "B" for the school year, up from a "C" last year. The county’s schools achieved the third-highest point rise statewide in 2004-05 based on FCAT scores, student learning gains and improvements among the bottom 25%.
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CORRECTION: A July 14 story about the Miami Free Zone inaccurately reported plans by the Jay Malina International Trade Consortium. The consortium may open a business incubator at the Miami Free Zone in Doral. The proposal is pending review by the Miami-Dade County Commission.