Written by Miami Today on April 13, 2006
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
of the news. Here are highlights from the most current edition.
RAIL’S ROAD: Business owners can offer their views on how the upcoming City of Miami streetcar project would affect them at the City of Miami Streetcar Study Downtown Stakeholder briefing meeting 10 a.m.-noon today (4/13) at the city’s Community Development Agency, 49 NW Fifth St. The streetcar would run along a 9-mile route linking downtown Miami and the redeveloping areas of Wynwood/Edgewater, Midtown Miami, the Miami Design District and the Civic Center complex. Details: (305) 728-7430 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TOLL-ROAD DEAL: Zip past tollbooths and save: The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority is offering Sunpass transponders at $12.50, half-price. The transponders electronically deduct tolls from prepaid accounts and save money because electronic tolls on the authority’s roadways are 20% lower than cash. Up to two discounted transponders can be purchased by phone with a credit card or by mail along with a completed application available at authority tollbooths. The deal ends when several thousand promotional transponders are gone. Details: (888) 865-5352 or www.mdxway.com.
COLD WATER: A representative of the state’s banks says an overhaul of commercial real estate lending will be felt most acutely in South Florida. Alex Sanchez, CEO of the Florida Bankers Association, said three federal agencies have had a consultation that ends today (4/13) in a bid to revise the guidelines. "This affects you if you lend more than 100% over capital," said Mr. Sanchez, "and 56% of banks in South Florida lend on a more than 100% ratio. It could pour cold water on the market." He said there has been strong opposition statewide to the changes proposed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Federal Reserve Board and US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. "Of the 1,200 letters generated nationwide, 1,058 originated in Florida."
TORN LIMB FROM LIMB: Miami commissioners last week voted to let City Manager Joe Arriola amend a contract with Metro Express Inc. for construction of the Citywide Pedestrian Routes Improvement Project from $400,000 to $674,394 to cover damage from fallen trees during Hurricanes Rita and Wilma that destroyed sidewalks and curbs. Metro Express was hired in May 2005.
LOTS OF FENCING: During a Miami City Commission meeting last week, Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones discussed the feasibility of fencing all city-owned lots and any privately owned lots that do not comply with code. She said she wants to keep lots in compliance because "there are people selling fruits on these lots, and there are a lot of bad things happening in these big-city lots," she said. The item is to be addressed by the city manager’s office.
TEEING OFF: Miami commissioners last week voted to seek investors to develop at Melreese Golf Course, 1802 NW 37th Ave. Their resolution calls for a unified development including a golf course, a three- or four-star hotel, a pro shop and other golf and hotel amenities. Miami Arena owner Glenn Straub, who previously bid on the site, says he will re-bid. The city has been seeking a developer there since 2004.
15 CENTS AN HOUR: The Miami Parking Authority reports the average revenue collected per parking meter per day was $3.65 as of February.
JUST THE TICKET: The Gusman Center for the Performing Arts continues to book shows well into the spring. Tickets for the Miami Film Festival, showcased at the Gusman in downtown Miami, sold out, said Mike Wharton, Gusman director. Shows highlighted this month are Amigos for Kids, the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, a production by New World School of The Arts and Umoja, a production on tour in the US and Canada that’s now playing. Details: www.gusmancenter.org.
TENET CHANGES: Ralph A. Aleman, who for five years has been CEO of Palmetto General Hospital in Hialeah, will become Tenet Healthcare Corp.’s market vice president for its seven hospitals in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. He will begin a search immediately to fill his slot at Palmetto General. Tuesday’s announcement noted the corporation will phase out its South Florida regional management structure in Fort Lauderdale. Before joining Tenet in 2001, Mr. Aleman, 59, was CEO of the South Florida division of Hospital Corp. of America.
PAIRING UP IN LABOR: Terence G. Connor, who from 1996 to 2002 was managing partner of Morgan Lewis in Miami, has joined Hunton & Williams LLP as partner to co-head the labor and employment practice in its Miami office with Juan Enjamio, it was announced Wednesday (4/13). Mr. Connor has a law degree from Seton Hall and a master’s in labor law from Georgetown University and has practiced for 30 years in South Florida.
TRADERS TAP TRINIDAD: A trade delegation from Miami-Dade County is to visit Trinidad and Tobago next month. The Jay Malina International Trade Consortium, together with the nation’s consulate general and its US chamber of commerce, is organizing the trip scheduled for May 16-21. The visit coincides with the Trade & Investment Convention. The consortium is encouraging participation from businesses in the entertainment field, the fish sector, food and beverages, the gas and oil industries, information technology, marine and yachting, pharmaceuticals and printing and packaging. Details: (305) 375-5420.
HOSPITAL GETTING BETTER: Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach has improved its grades, Fitch Ratings indicates. The company gave a BB+ rating Tuesday on about $295 million in bonds issued to the city on behalf of the hospital. Fitch Ratings attributes the grade to the center’s good management practices, solid market position and strong foundation and community support. Mount Sinai remains almost $300 million in debt through three separate bond issues over the past eight years.
VEGAS BELLY DANCING: Taverna Opa’s exuberant mix of Greek food and drink, belly dancers and napkin throwing is a South Florida hit, so the concept is going on the road. Owners plan to open a Las Vegas restaurant this summer and have plans to go nationwide with 10 more eateries within three years, according to Athan "Tom" Prakas, president of the Prakas Group Inc., which brokered the Las Vegas deal. "Taverna Opa is already legendary in South Florida, but this Las Vegas location will put it on the national map," he said. The 6,300-square-foot restaurant will be in the new Planet Hollywood Casino. The first Taverna Opa opened in Hollywood in 1998, and others opened in Fort Lauderdale in 2002 and on South Beach in 2003. There are plans for restaurants in Boca Raton and Orlando. Mr. Prakas represented both tenant and landlord in the Las Vegas deal, valued at $7.2 million.
SECOND FIDDLE: New York magazine’s Spring Travel Guide highlights Miami as one of the Second Greatest Cities in the World – to New York, of course. It lauds Miami for its huge number of real estate agents (one for every 700 residents, the article notes), "crane talk, 42,000 new condominiums planned for downtown, the mayor’s master plan to rezone; the new home for the opera, ballet, and symphony … and how the weak dollar in the hands of the international jet set renders Miami the great exception to the national real-estate bubble." In fact, it celebrates Miamians for getting smarter and "turning the decadence into an itemized deduction."
TOP GLOBAL RATING: Hold on – the "Miami Vice" craze may be passé, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which announced April 4 that "CSI: Miami" is the No. 1 television show in the world. According to the show-business daily, the sun-drenched drama is a ratings smash from "Berlin to Bogota, from Paris to Pretoria. Outside the United States, ‘CSI: Miami’ tops ‘Lost,’ ‘Desperate Housewives’ and even the original ‘CSI’ to rank as the most-watched US series around the world."
CORRECTION: Maura Landers is director of sales at Colonial Realty. Her name was misspelled in a story headlined, "Brickell condo pricing remains strong, developers report," in our March 23 edition.