HOME RESALES FALL: As with the national trend, the number of houses resold is down in Miami-Dade County but prices, although not as hot as they had been, still registered gains, according to a survey by the Florida Association of Realtors that compared January 2006 with January 2005. Figures showed a 28% decline in homes resold in the county, but median home prices still climbed 26%, from $298,800 last January to $376,300. All of Florida showed gains, though they varied widely, ranging from the smallest increase of 11% in Tallahassee, $158,800 to $175,500, to a high of 59% in Gainesville, where the median price jumped from $140,400 to $223,100.
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CONDOS FALL, TOO: Condominium sales mirrored the trend, with the number of condos resold in Miami-Dade dipping 13% from last January as median prices climbed 11%, from $233,300 to $259,000. Although condo sales generally declined in Florida, that wasn't so in Gainesville, where units sold nearly tripled, from 28 to 70, and the median price rose from $133,300 to $160,000. Pensacola had the biggest plunge. Although there was only one fewer unit sold, the median price plunged 61%, from $440,000 to $172,500.
41-STORY TOWER OK'D: Developers 2937 Ferrari LLC and 2915 Biscayne LLC received a major use special permit from Miami commissioners last week for The Lima, a 473-foot, 41-story mixed-use project with 207 residential units. The Lima also includes 7,544 square feet of retail space, 30,430 square feet of existing office space and 363 parking spaces at 2919 and 2937 Biscayne Blvd. and 330 NE 30th St.
OFFICES, NOT CONDOS: MDM Group USA, developer of the MET 2 at 200 SE Third St., one of three towers of Metropolitan Miami, got the OK from Miami commissioners to modify a major use special permit to add offices and eliminate residential condos. Plans for the 640-foot tower have been changed to encompass 700,000 square feet of commercial and office space, a 400-unit hotel and 3,689 parking spaces.
CONDO BATTLE GOES ON: The Morningside Civic Association must wait to fight a permit to build at 5301-5501 Biscayne Blvd. Miami's zoning board was to hear residents and Morningside Development LLC on Monday but put it off to March 13 to let all members read transcripts of a December 2004 meeting. In October 2004, the planning department granted a major use special permit for the nine-story, 92-foot-tall project that includes 11,994 square feet of office space on the first floors of two condo towers. Later the zoning board also granted the permit, which was appealed by residents who triumphed in the city commission in March 2005. Developers fought back, going to the 11th Circuit Court, where the city's ruling was quashed and returned to the zoning board.
FARMERS IN THE PARK: The Bayfront Park Management Trust is looking to bring a fresh-foods farmers market to Bayfront Park. "We're hoping it will connect South Dade farmers to the urban element of downtown Miami," said Tim Schmand, trust executive director. He hopes to bring the market to downtown every Thursday starting in November.
INTERMISSION: Once again, the issue of whether the Coconut Grove Playhouse, 3500 Main Highway, is historic is up in the air after attorneys representing the playhouse asked for a 90-day extension before returning to Miami's city hall. Commissioners were to vote whether to uphold an Historic and Environmental Preservation Board decision to name the playhouse historic or to approve the appeal by Coconut Grove LLC. The planning department recommended denial of the appeal.
HISTORIC MOSQUE: Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones is asking the city's Historic and Environmental Board to look into designating the Masjid Al-Ansar Mosque at 5245 NW Seventh Ave. historic. Former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali worshiped at the 30-year-old Liberty City mosque, which reportedly was frequently visited by Malcolm X.
MONEY IS BLUE: Camillus Health Concern, which provides primary health care to homeless and low-income persons in Miami-Dade County, has received the $100,000 Sapphire Award from the Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida Inc. The award promotes programs that have improved the health of Florida's at-risk populations and communities. Camillus House, which helps the county's poor and homeless, founded Camillus Health Concern in 1984. The Blue Foundation is the philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida.
BUSINESS LINKS ABROAD: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce kicks off its seventh annual Americas Linkage series of international business-development missions March 20 with a visit to Puerto Rico. Other stops include Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil, April 3-7; Santiago, Chile, April 24-25; Buenos Aires, Argentina, April 26-27; and Montevideo, Uruguay, April 29. Details: Juan Pablo Gonzalez, (305) 577-5477.
CITIZEN LINKS ABROAD: Seven organizations are holding a summit in Coral Gables on citizen diplomacy with the aim of presenting action plans to the National Summit on Citizen Diplomacy in Washington in July. The event, 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. March 30 at the Biltmore Hotel, includes a panel of former US ambassadors, a panel on citizen diplomacy in action and a keynote luncheon speaker. The event is organized by the City of Coral Gables, the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, the Fulbright Association, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Miami Council for International Visitors, the Miami-Dade Sister Cities Program and the Rotary Club of Coral Gables. Attendance is $75 for the day, $45 for the luncheon only. Details: (305) 421-6394.
FORKING IT OVER: If you're among those waiting in line at one of our popular restaurants, you won't be surprised that Miami-Dade County had $3.4 billion in restaurant sales last year, a record 9.4% increase from 2004. August, when Miami Space Restaurant Month was celebrated, saw an increase of almost 15%, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
AND THE WINNER IS ...: In the category of best party, the Academy Award goes to Casa Casuarina - a Miami Beach private club that is to play host to a celebration for the Oscars on Sunday night. Visitors to the former Gianni Versace mansion can expect normal cinema offerings with a twist including ice cream creations from chef Wolfgang Birk and truffle-laced popcorn. The $150 admission includes a glass of champagne. Curtain-up is 5:30 p.m. Details: To join the cast, call (305) 672-6604.
GOOD OLD DAYS: Dade Heritage Days, a six-week celebration of Miami-Dade County's architectural and cultural heritage, kicks off this week. Open houses, historic tours, lectures and performances are planned around the county. Details: (305) 358-9572.
OFFICES SOLD: Three general-use office buildings with a total 133,500 square feet housing about 165 offices were sold recently to AM Group 36 LLC for $12 million by Soma Real Estate LLC. The Class C+ properties, one four-story and two three-story buildings, were remodeled recently. Built in 1970-73, they are on 65th Avenue and Northwest 36th Street, directly across from Miami International Airport. AM Group plans capital improvements and seeks more tenants. Absolut Financial Resources arranged a $6.7 million loan for the purchase at a fixed rate of 6.37% with a 10-year term that amortizes over 30 years.
RE-CYCLING: Miami Beach is celebrating Bike to Work Week March 6-11 with a free Safe Cycling for Adults Workshop to be taught by the Florida Bicycle Association on March 11 at Flamingo Park's P.A.L. Center. There are also opportunities to learn about bicycle commuting at locations throughout Miami Beach in sessions March 6, 9 and 10 and an essay/photo contest to win a $375 gift certificate to the Miami Beach Bicycle Centers. Entrants can submit photos or essays depicting their concept of traffic congestion or how it makes them feel. Details: (305) 673-7080.
CORRECTION: Anthony J. Guerriero has been named a manager of forensic services at Berkowitz Dick Pollack & Brant. He obtained a master's of business administration degree in global business from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a bachelor of science degree in accounting and quantitative methods from Babson College. Information reported in the People column last week was incorrect in a press release.
CORRECTION: The Feb. 23 article headlined "County to ask Congress to examine Arabs' takeover of Port of Miami" incorrectly stated that officials were seeking Sister City status with a Sudanese city. County representatives are studying arrangements with counterparts in Cape Town, South Africa; Dakar, Senegal; and Odessa in the Ukraine.
CORRECTION: Contrary to a report last week headlined "County to ask Congress to examine Arabs' takeover of Port of Miami," Miami-Dade County commissioners voted Feb. 23, not Feb. 21, on what message to send to Congress. They requested hearings on the sale of a British company to a United Arab Emirates interest, a block on federal approval until hearings are concluded and more funds for seaport security.