Written by Miami Today on November 10, 2005
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
of the news. Here are highlights from the most current edition.
POWERING UP: Miami commissioners have approved $5.2 million to lay underground power infrastructure to help run the city’s proposed streetcar system on a 6.8-mile loop linking downtown and Northeast 41st Street in the Design District. Officials hope to have the streetcars going by 2009 at an estimated cost of $132 million.
SECURING PARKING LOTS: The Miami Parking Authority and Miami’s Office of Homeless Programs are teaming to move out homeless people camping on parking lots under Interstate 395. Authority board members funded a six-month pilot program for $25,000 to have a two-person team in a van monitor the lots from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. According to the authority, customers aren’t using the lots because of homeless camping on sidewalks and nearby streets.
BANK FLOATS DEAL: City National Bank of Florida is building a $125,000 water taxi dock south and adjacent to its property at 315, 325 and 335 S. Biscayne Blvd. and must maintain it for 25 years in a deal with the city. The bank agreed to build the dock after city officials granted a major use special permit for commercial and residential development on the property.
TECHNOLOGY HERO: One Economy, a 5-year-old nonprofit with a Little Havana office that brings technology into affordable housing nationwide, awarded 17-year-old Juan Velasquez the Lisa Y. Sullivan Horizons Award. The Miami Senior High student and graduate of One Economy’s Digital Connectors program was recently named to the City of Miami’s Youth Council, where he will help develop a policy to improve the community.
SHOWS BLOWN AWAY: Hurricane Wilma did minor physical damage to the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts: a window and a door. As for fiscal damage, the theater lost six of 10 shows scheduled for October but was able to reschedule two for November: the Chamber Theatre’s Children Show and a production by Casa Valentina. Mike Wharton, Gusman director, said he hopes to receive $350,000 from the state when he goes to Tallahassee this week to continue major restorations.
CITY DOES RIGHT THING: Miami commissioners gave $100,000 to the city’s Do The Right Thing program that targets 9,000 children and rewards them for being leaders. Interaction between police and the children is promoted to establish respect.
MOST STARTS EVER: The 9,098 Miami-Dade County housing starts for single-family homes in the 12 months ended Sept. 30 were the most in history, according to housing analyst firm Metrostudy. The 2,431 starts in the third quarter of the year were up 3.6% from the third quarter of 2004, the firm reported.
WHERE THEY’RE RISING: The three top South Florida developmental communities, ranked by annual new home starts through September, are Waterstone in Homestead, developed by Landstar, with 758 home starts; Islands at Doral, developed by Century Partners, with 533, and Keys Gate, developed by M&H Homestead Partners in Homestead, with 462, analyst Metrostudy reports.
CONDO BOOM ANALYSIS: International aspects of Miami’s condo boom – including trends and the impact of recent hurricanes – will be the topic of Miami Today’s International Roundtable as it opens its 20th season Dec. 1. The roundtable, sponsored by Swire Realty, will include panelists Brian Street, principal of Boca Developers, and Megan Kelly, vice president of Swire Properties. The moderator will be Michael Hayes, international editor of Miami Today. The free program begins at 5 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Mandarin Oriental on Brickell Key. RSVP: Ivonne Nuñez, (305) 358-2663.
RAH, RAH HOME PRICES: Miami not only ranks high as a university football team’s home but also in the price of a home, according to Coldwell Banker’s first College Market Home Price Comparison Index. Of the 59 communities with top football programs, the study ranked Miami as sixth most expensive for a single-family home in the middle-management community at an average price of $671,584. Homes in the survey averaged 2,200 square feet with four bedrooms, 21/2 baths, a family room and two-car garage – average for middle management but not for Miami as a whole. Top average price was Palo Alto, CA, home of Stanford, at $1,550,000. For a bargain, attend Texas Tech in Lubbock, where the average is $164,133, or Mississippi State in Starkville, at $169,433.
NEW ROLE FOR KELLEY: Darrell Kelley, who just stepped down as president and CEO of Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development organization, has been named chief operating officer of Holland & Knight law firm. He’ll be based in Orlando, where he once was president and CEO of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission.
AWARDS DEADLINE: The Beacon Council has extended the deadline to Nov. 11 to apply for its fourth annual Beacon Awards. Applications for awards in the council’s 10 targeted industries for job growth can be found at www.beaconcouncil.com. The awards will be presented Feb. 1 at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.
GOING UP: Downtown Miami office space is in for inflationary price increases between now and 2008, according to a study by Jones Lang LaSalle, while suburban Miami markets face moderate increases. The firm forecasts downtown vacancies at 12.5% in 2008, suburban vacancies at 10.7%. At the end of September, the firm says, the central business district had a 10.4% vacancy and suburban areas 8.9% – ranging from 2.5% in the Kendall/Dadeland area to 14.5% in Coconut Grove.
PERU MISSION BACK ON: Enterprise Florida’s commercial mission to Lima of nearly 55 business leaders that was canceled due to Hurricane Katrina is being re-scheduled for January. "Our tentative date is (Jan.) 18-20, but we are still waiting on a final confirmation with the Peruvian government," said Manny Mencia, senior vice president of international trade for the state’s business development agency. Gov. Jeb Bush is to spearhead the trip. Florida has a $1.18 billion trade relationship with Peru, which is among the state’s top 20 trade partners, Peru imported more than $734 million in goods and services from Florida in 2004.
RAISING THE ROOF: Miami Parking Authority board members have voted to fund a $24,000 feasibility study to expand Garage Three at 190 NE Third St. by two or three levels. Timothy Haas & Associates is to investigate whether it can be done structurally, how many cars can be added and the cost of expansion.
HOOFING IT: Jet Bullet, a City of Miami police horse, is retiring after five years of service and will be sent to a farm in Tallahassee after becoming lame. Miami Police Office Brenda Watkins owns and operates the farm in the state’s capital, where Jet Bullet will live at no cost to the city.
CHINESE HOSPITALITY: Florida International University’s school of hospitality in Tianjin, China’s fourth-largest city, should be complete by July, according to Dean Joseph West. Located 69 miles southeast of Beijing, the campus of 450,000 square feet already has three six-story buildings finished. In December, a 20-story dormitory tower for 1,000 students should be complete as well. The Chinese government is picking up the construction tab of $30 million. "The Chinese gave us land, and now they’re equipping the school," said Mr. West. "And since courses will be taught in English, they are also training Chinese faculty." Classes in Tianjin are to begin in August.
WAGES OF IN: Companies seeking county money as incentives to move to or expand in Miami-Dade County under the Targeted Jobs Incentive Fund program will have to pay all of their employees salaries at or above the county’s Living Wage Rate – a formal figure set annually by the county’s Department of Business Development – the county commission decided Nov. 3 by an 11-0 vote. The targeted jobs program is geared to increase jobs at above-average salaries. It is used by the Beacon Council, the county’s economic development organization, to attract businesses to relocate here.
CORRECTION: The full name of a commercial real estate firm mentioned last week is Studley.