A DOOR OPENS: The mayor of El Portal is to resign this week so she can take on the duties of a Miami-Dade County commissioner. The successor to retiring Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler, Audrey Edmonson, told the commission Tuesday she would tender her resignation to El Portal city officials that night - a formality before she can be sworn in. Ms. Edmonson will assume her seat on the commission next year. The meeting Tuesday was the commission's last of this year.
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CLEANUP COMING: Miami canals and waterways are to get a cleanup. City commissioners last week voted to accept a bid from Texas Aquatic Harvesting Inc. to remove litter and debris. The $1.9 million contract covers monthly litter removal, quarterly mowing and trimming and semiannual culvert cleaning and debris removal along with quarterly spraying for vegetation control, said Stephanie Grindell, city director of public works. The contract covers Wagner Creek north and south and the Seybold, Comfort, Ademar and Davis Canals along with Bayfront Cove at Northeast 28th Street and between Northeast 20th and 21st streets.
ELECTRA WAITS: Miami's Planning and Zoning Board deferred two items from the agenda last week that would decide the fate of Electra, a 32-story condo development in the Design District. One item was for developers to gain an alleyway closure north of Northeast 36th Street between North Miami Avenue and Northeast Miami Court for construction. The other item was an appeal from developers of the city Zoning Board's denial of the Class II building permit. Buena Vista East neighbors are fighting to prevent Electra from being built. City commissioners deferred the items to Jan. 26.
CONSTRUCTION SITE: A site in the City of Miami between Northeast 24th and 25th streets is available to developers interested in building 164 residential units and seven commercial offices. The plat, entitled Gallery Art, contains two tracts of land approximately 55,653 square feet, or 1.2 acres. The applicant must provide the intended proposed use of the plat and submit it to the city's planning department.
JOINING UP: Miami commissioners passed a resolution last week to make the city a member of the Florida Intergovernmental Finance Commission. The organization issues capital revenue bonds and provides low-cost loans to participating Florida local governments to assist them with their capital needs.
PLAZA IN LIMBO: An ordinance officially changing the name of Southeast First Avenue between Southeast Eighth and 12th streets to Brickell Plaza was deferred during a Miami City Commission meeting last week. Miami's Department of Public Works will have to wait until the new year for the first reading on the ordinance - but the Brickell Plaza signs have been up for years.
DINNER'S SERVED: Miami's Department of Community Development is transferring $13,500 to Sunshine For All Inc. to provide home-delivered meals to elderly residents living in the city's commission District Four.
TWO MORE YEARS: The Miami City Commission last week extended the life of the city's Technology Advisory Board by two years. The 4-year-old board provides computer services to poor residents and computer access in city parks with its E-Parks program.
DEEL DEAL: Berkowitz Development paid $24.6 million for a 4.5-acre site at 4811 LeJeune Rd. that was formerly the parking lot of the Deel Ford dealership. Developer Jeff Berkowitz said it will be incorporated into a 240,000-square-foot vertical shopping mall called Gables Station. The deal was orchestrated by a team of Colliers Abood Wood-Fay brokers led by Michael Fay. Berkowitz Development's retail projects in the area include Dadeland Station, Kendall Village and the planned Fifth & Alton in Miami Beach.
BANK WINS STATE OK: BBU is the newest bank in Miami-Dade County. It received approval Monday from the Florida Office of Financial Regulation to operate at 150 Alhambra Circle in Coral Gables, said Joe Matthews, a financial specialist at the state agency in Tallahassee. BBU is owned by Juan Carlos Escotet Rodriguez, Luis Lujan Puigbo and Jorge Caraballo Rodriguez, Venezuelan bankers who control Banesco Holding C.A. in Caracas. In Venezuela, Banesco owns Banco Universal, reported to be one of the nation's four largest banks. BBU raised $15 million in capital and projects total assets of $189 million at the end of its third year. The bank is expected to start operating in the first quarter of next year.
VOICES HEARD: A British bank with an Asian connection has donated $75,000 to a Miami-Dade County charity. The world's third-largest bank, HSBC, made the gift this month to the Voices For Children Foundation - the fundraising arm of the Guardian Ad Litem Program. In a further extension of cross-cultural ties, Voices For Children plans its 2006 gala as a celebration of the Chinese New Year, honoring the dog, which starts Jan. 29.
SPANISH BANKS OK'D: Caixa Galicia and Banco Popular Español have received approval from the Florida Department of Financial Regulation to open offices in Miami. With 2,100 branches in Europe, Banco Popular is the No. 3 bank in Spain and Caixa Galicia is among the top 10. In its first few months, Caixa Galicia will begin with a small operation of five to six employees, according to bank attorney Clemente-Vasquez Bello, a senior partner at Gunster Yoakley's Miami office. Both banks can open branches only after two years of activity in the state.
LIGHTING UP: A Miami performing-arts organization is one of 17 nationwide to receive a slice of more than $9 million in funding over the next four years. Miami Light Project qualifies for up to $500,000 in grants until 2009 from the New York-based Doris Duke Charitable Foundation as part of its midsize presenting organizations initiative. The foundation's director for the arts has a Miami-Dade County connection. Olga Garay worked at Miami Dade College, where she was Wolfson Campus director of cultural affairs.
CHINA VIEWS MIAMI: Miami is being featured on China's Happy Travel Channel, that country's version of the Travel Channel scheduled to be launched Jan. 8. Owned by Wang Keman, president of Southern Media Corp., headquartered in Guangzhou, the TV programming will be distributed to more than 300 stations throughout the mainland. "We met Mr. Keman in a recent trade show in China," said David Whitaker, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau vice president for marketing. "We are very pleased. We are laying a foundation for brand awareness so we can bring tourists from China."
ARTFUL GOODBYE: Rex Art, a 55-year-old art supply store that has been run by four generations of the same family, is to close Saturday at its 2263 SW 37th Ave. location, which has been sold. But the company lives on on the Web at www.rexart.com.
HOSPITAL SERVICE: Aventura Hospital re-opens its free valet service at the main entrance 7 a.m.-8 p.m. starting Jan. 1.