Written by Miami Today on January 26, 2006
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PERMIT US: Representatives of the Miami-Dade County Commission were to reveal this week a dozen measures designed to improve the construction permitting process. The planned changes follow a year of negotiation and review in which county officials sought input from residents and construction industry experts. The intention is reduce wait times and expedite processes for private and commercial enterprises.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: The international economic arm of Miami-Dade County has a new vice chairwoman. The county commission voted unanimously Tuesday to approve Jana Sigars-Malina at the recommendation of Commissioner Natacha Seijas, who assumed the chairmanship this month from Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz. Ms. Sigars-Malina, who replaces trade attorney Gilbert Lee Sandler, is the widow of entrepreneur Jay Malina, for whom the International Trade Consortium is named.
ZONING IN: Miami Free Zone officials are a step closer to realizing their dream of constructing a $200 million hotel and trade hub in Doral. Miami-Dade County commissioners Tuesday approved a reworking of the free zone’s plat so that three parcels of 30, 10 and 7 acres may be treated separately and representatives can begin negotiations with an operator for the hotel. Free zone officials plan to complete the complex by 2008.
BLACK FLAG: Tim Schmand, executive director of the Bayfront Park Management Trust, is negotiating with pirates. Pirates Adventure — a European company that began 22 years ago entertaining tourists in Mallorca, Spain, with high-seas adventures — may come to Bicentennial Park. The family-dinner showcase may sail its way into Miami in November for a six- to eight-week run.
74-STORY TOWER: Seeking a major use special permit at Miami’s planning and zoning meeting today (1/26) is the developer of 1101 Brickell, 1101 Brickell Ave., which would be an 849-foot, 74-story mixed-used building with 650 residential units, 269,000 square feet of existing office space, 30,007 square feet of retail and 1,529 parking spaces.
RIVER TOWERS: Also on the Miami planning and zoning agenda today (1/26) is Coastal on the River, 2215 NW 14th St.. The developer needs a permit to build two residential towers of 12 stories with 633 residential units and 898 parking spaces. Construction cost is estimated at $162 million. Also on the agenda for permitting is Oak Garden Homes, 3129-3159 NW 11th St., a 17-unit single-family duplex with construction costs at $2.5 million.
EDUCATION SUPPORTER: The March of Dimes awarded Liliam Lopez, CEO and president of the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, its Building Our Community Award in the Education and Training category for her support of education. She has helped initiate 42 scholarships and 10 paid internships to students in the Miami-Dade school system.
EARNING CREDIT: Miami Mayor Manny Diaz is launching the city’s 2006 Earned Income Tax Credit campaign and free tax-preparation initiative at the Corpus Christi Community Center, 730 NW 34th St. The center is offering free tax preparation. Eligible residents can receive a federal income-tax refund of up to $4,400 from the credit. He will launch the campaign at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the center. Details: (305) 416-2096.
TURNING 80: Friends of Gusman, the fundraising organization that supports Miami’s Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, has added nine people to its board to help fundraising for the theater. The 80th-anniversary party for the theater has been tentatively scheduled for May. Details: www.gusmancenter.org or (305) 374-2444.
FIRMLY COMMITTED: Former Sen. Bob Graham was wrapping up a presentation to the Prologue Society at Northern Trust Bank, 700 Brickell Ave., on Tuesday when an admiring guest asked, "Sen. Graham, is there any chance, any chance in the world, that you would make a bid for the presidency again?" The 164 persons who had come to hear him present his 2004 book, "Intelligence Matters," applauded loudly before Mr. Graham responded, "I was going to answer that ëcategorically no’ — until there was such a burst of applause." Upon which, he still answered categorically no.
PRESIDENTIAL TIES: One reason Mr. Graham said he would not seek the nation’s highest office again is that he and wife Adele are enjoying life too much living in a dorm room at a Harvard institution named for a former president. He is a research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. The three-term senator and two-term governor will be linked to another president Friday when he receives the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.
ICING ON THE CAKE: Valentine’s Day is a great day for chocoholics, which is what the owners of Chocolate Inc., a new restaurant that’s to open at 506 Española Way on Feb. 14, are counting on, said Jamil Dib, one of the four owners. "We were sitting around and talking, and we said ëWhat is the best-selling dessert in the world?’ And everyone answered, ëChocolate cake.’ So we decided why not chocolate cake?" he said. The casual restaurant will offer items including hamburgers, pizza and pasta, but the showcase will be a cooler filled with 40 chocolate cakes made fresh daily. The other owners are Alejandro Firllin, Edwardo Araoz and Simon Jacobs. The group also owns Española Way restaurants Oh Mexico, CafÈ Nuvo, Akairo Sushi and Mojitos Lounge. The Miami Beach Board of Adjustment unanimously approved the restaurant application this month.