Written by Miami Today on January 19, 2006
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FUNNY BUSINESS: Miami city officials are in talks with a production team from Warner Bros. about bringing a DC Comics character to the big screen here. Film-company representatives are considering locations to make "Aquaman," based on a comic-book character who is the lost king of Atlantis. Robert Parente, Miami film, arts and entertainment director, said the city could probably accommodate the project from the middle of next month.
MARKETING CLEVELAND: The Cleveland Orchestra, which is to perform here for three weeks a year during the Miami Performing Arts Center’s first 10 seasons, has appointed a person to drum up support. Christina Littlejohn is to take up her position as director of the orchestra’s residencies Feb. 15. Though the Cleveland Orchestra is to be resident for three weeks in the winter, Ms. Littlejohn is to oversee marketing, sales and fundraising activities year-round. The arts center should be completed Aug. 4 in preparation for an Oct. 5 opening.
ARTS CENTER HEADLINER: The Miami Performing Arts Center has confirmed that singer Gloria Estefan is to head its lineup on opening night Oct. 5. Another homegrown talent, her husband, Emilio Estefan, is to co-produce the event with the Creative Group’s Fred Stein, a native of Pennsylvania who is to oversee the four-day opening program. Center officials are to finalize a schedule of parties, performances and a gala over the next few weeks. The $400 million-plus arts center is slated to be finished Aug. 4.
STYMIED: Miami commissioners voted unanimously last week to reject the lone proposal from Concalpro, a Doral company owned by a Venezuelan group, to build on city-owned Melreese Golf Course. "There will be issued a new request for proposals at a future date that will then go before the commission at a public hearing," said Lori Billberry, director of economic development. The city’s last request sought a four-star hotel with retail, commercial and office space on Melreese’s 135 acres at 1802 NW 37th Ave. Ms. Billberry said she wasn’t sure when the city would seek new proposals.
PLAZA STREET: Miami commissioners passed the first reading of an ordinance to change the name of Southeast First Avenue between Eighth and Twelfth streets to Brickell Plaza – a name that long has appeared on street signs there. The first reading was deferred twice, but it passed unanimously last week. The final vote is due Jan. 26.
FEDERAL MONEY TALK: Miami’s Department of Community Development will hold hearings on its fiscal 2006-07 funding and grants programs such as the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Community Development Block Grants, Emergency Shelter Funds and Home Investment Partnership Funds. Hearings will be in each district with city commissioners to identify needs of residents and set priorities for federally funded activities. The first hearing is at 6 p.m. Jan. 24 with Commissioner Johnny Winton at the Frankie Rolle Center in Coconut Grove. Details: (305) 416-2096.
WILMA FUNDS REMAIN: The City of Miami’s Miami Recovers program still has funds available. The program offers one-time forgivable loans to low- and moderate-income renters and homeowners whose residences were damaged in October by Hurricane Wilma. Apartment renters whose units were damaged can get up to $2,800, while homeowners can qualify for up to $30,000 for roof repairs, window and hurricane shutters and interior repairs. Details: (305) 960-4640.
BUILDING LATIN TRADE: Miami Today’s International Roundtable will focus on Miami’s Role in Latin American Trade at 5 p.m. Feb. 9 in the Merrick Room of the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables. An expert panel will examine opportunities for growth and development of that trade and the organizations and businesses here that facilitate it. Panelists include Jorge L. Arrizurieta, president of Florida FTAA Inc.; Marcy Grossman, Canada’s consul general in Miami; Harold E. Patricoff, partner at law firm Shutts & Bowen; and Joseph R. Smith, vice president of the Florida Foreign Trade Association. Sponsors are Florida FTAA Inc. and the Biltmore. Reservations: Jannina Roman, (305) 358-2663.
CLIMBING ABOARD: Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro and attorney Neisen Kasdin this month replaced former commissioner Barbara-Carey Shuler and Realtor Allen C. Harper on the board of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, formed in July 2003 to create a viable transportation system for South Florida.
MOVE UP: Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist has appointed Miamian Paul C. Huck Jr. to his executive staff as a deputy attorney general. Mr. Huck had served as South Florida regional deputy attorney general.
MOVING UP: Mae D. Bryant, Miami-Dade County’s acting director of the human services since November 2004, has been named assistant county manager for social services by County Manager George Burgess. She’s been in county government since 1985. Replacing her as acting director of social services is Carolina Montoya, who was director of the Office of Rehabilitative Services.
FLYING HIGH: Gordon Bethune, former chairman and CEO of Continental Airlines, is to receive the Greater Miami Aviation Association’s Wright Brothers Memorial Award on Friday in a banquet at the Westin Diplomat. Fort Lauderdale-based Spirit Airlines, the largest privately held airline in the US, is to receive the Corporate Achievement Award. Details (305) 666-1840.
TAX RETURNS: As Miami-Dade County’s tourism grew last year, so did its Convention Development Tax receipts, up 17% to $36.2 million through the first 11 months of the year.
NEIGHBORHOOD LEADERSHIP: If you wish to become a community leader in Miami Beach – or if you are simply a resident seeking to learn more about the community – enrollment is now open for the City of Miami Beach Neighborhood Leadership Academy, a free 13-week course designed to teach you everything about how the city works and give you an opportunity to meet everyone involved in providing city services. "The program enables residents to increase their knowledge about the city and learn how to participate in decisions that affect their neighborhoods," said Nanette Rodriguez, a city spokeswoman. Classes are to be held most Mondays March 6-June 26. Enrollment is open until March 1 or the class is full. Details: (305) 604-2489.
PIZZA, PASTA AND PAVAROTTI: After a 10-year hiatus, an Italian restaurateur has returned to Miami-Dade County with a venture in Coconut Grove. Fabio Rolandi closed Casa Rolandi in Coral Gables in 1995 before becoming a consultant to clients in Hawaii and on the West Coast. He opened a restaurant in San Francisco during that time. Mr. Rolandi considered a return to the county sooner, he said, but 9/11 caused him to review his business plan. Last month, he resumed operations in the county, opening Rolandi’s at 3138 Commodore Plaza, where diners are to be immersed in Italian culture as Mr. Rolandi plays Andrea Bocelli and Luciano Pavarotti DVDs for guests on the terrace.
CORRECTION: Greg Chin is media-relations coordinator for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, not the Federal Aviation Administration, as reported last week.