KNIGHT STALKER: Miami commissioners last week approved a contract with a company the city hired in April to help sell the James L. Knight Center, backing a resolution presented by Lori Billberry, city director of public facilities. The 5.7-acre property managed by Global Spectrum encompasses the Hyatt Hotel, the University of Miami's Conference Center and the Miami Convention Center at 400 SE Second Ave. and a parking garage at 100 SE Second St. The city hired Staubach Co. Northeast to help sell the center "as a whole or in separate parcels," city documents say. Staubach is to determine the most appropriate action for the city, Ms. Billberry said.
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GO WITH THE FLOW: Traffic on Flagler Street downtown from Biscayne Boulevard to Northwest Second Avenue, which now flows west only, is going two-way Oct. 9 as part of the city's Flagler Street Improvement Project. Traffic on Southeast Third Avenue from Southeast Third Street north to Flagler Street, which now flows north, also will go two-way that day. Signs on main arteries nearby will soon alert drivers of the pending changes. The city hopes the two-way conversions will increase retail demand and economic development and support urban living. The improvement project will add streetlights, traffic signals, landscaping, granite sidewalks, curbs and gutters. The project is due to be completed by late November. Details: (305) 416-1286.
HOUSING ON PLAYBILL: Miami plans to ask developers for letters of interest in buying city-owned Teatro Marti, in east Little Havana at 400-420 SW Eighth St., and redeveloping the site as affordable housing. Lori Billberry, director of public facilities, says she isn't sure when the request will go out because her department, the community-development department and the law department are still working out details. Amco Holdings lost a bid to redevelop the site after an appraiser valued the land at $2.1 million. Amco was offering $1.2 million for the site to build affordable housing and ground-floor retail.
SLOW TRAIN: Miami-Dade commissioners are to vote Tuesday, just before the opening of the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts the first week of October, to give the Omni Metromover Station a second name — the Omni-Performing Arts Center Metromover Station. Action on the resolution, which has been hanging since June, was deferred at the Sept. 12 meeting by an 11-0 vote.
AIR TIE WITH BRAZIL: The Miami-Dade Aviation Department, which is in ongoing talks to provide technical services to Sao Paulo International Airport in return for payment of personnel costs and travel, became more closely linked to the Brazil airport when the Miami-Dade County Commission voted 11-0 last week to sign an International Sister Airports agreement. County commissioners were told the Miami Customs District had $9 billion in trade with Brazil last year — nearly a quarter of all US-Brazil trade. The airports agreement is geared to increase trade. In Sao Paulo, the county would provide programs dealing with security, emergency management and preventive maintenance as well as runway maintenance and concession management.
BID PROTEST TIME CUT: Miami-Dade County commissioners unanimously approved a measure last week shortening the timeframe for filing a bid protest from 10 days to three. Those who want to protest a recommendation by County Manager George Burgess must file all documents with the clerk of the board and county attorney's office within three working days after filing a letter of intent to protest. Commissioner Rebecca Sosa sponsored the measure.
FALSE START: A scheduling conflict forced US Olympic Committee President Jim Sheer to cancel a press conference scheduled for Tuesday to announce the committee's partnership with the Miami-Dade Sports Commission to promote and plan Olympic events, commission officials say. Several former Olympians, including Miami resident Jennifer Rodriguez, part of the US speed-skating team at the 1998 and 2002 games, were expected to be on hand to celebrate the county's entry into the Community Partners Program. The press conference will likely be held in early October, commission officials say.
ROCK TO ROLL: Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wilson Jr. last week allowed demolition of the Coral Rock House, a historic building at 900 Collins Ave. in Miami Beach. County officials had ordered building owner 900 Collins Ave. LLC to demolish the house, but city officials refused to issue the permit before the Historic Preservation Board approved demolition. Judge Wilson said it wasn't necessary for the board to issue a demolition permit. The building received the city's Beautification Award in 2005 for the owner's preservation of the landmark.
HOMESTEAD TRADE TALK: After Homestead officials sold 18 acres in the city's Park of Commerce, a foreign free-trade zone, economic development organization Vision Council will host a forum on international trade Nov. 16 at the Homestead Campus of Miami-Dade College. Manuel Mencia, senior vice president for international trade and business development for Enterprise Florida, will be keynote speaker. "Now that the city has begun to sell property in the Park of Commerce, we need to educate the business community about the Homestead Foreign Trade Zone and the opportunities it provides for international trade," said Mike Richardson, Vision Council president. "All the key elements are in place."
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: British food and beverage distributor Montgomery International is bringing its global exhibition success to South Florida. The company is partnering with World Trade Center Miami to host the IFE Americas — 9th Americas Food and Beverage Show Nov. 8-10 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The trade show is to feature more than 300 companies from 27 countries.
HUNT FOR A DEAN: University of Miami officials are about to start a hunt for a new dean of the school of business administration. Fifteen-year incumbent Paul Sugrue announced he'll step down at the end of this school year, though the university said he'll stay on until the search is complete.
INFLATION'S RATE SLOWS: The 5.1% annual increase in consumer prices in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area last month was lower than a year earlier for the first time in two years. The increase was 5.7% in August 2005, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The latest figures mean that goods that would have cost a consumer here $100 in the early 1980s cost $204.60 last month. Most recent figures before this report, in June, put the increase here at an annual rate of 5.8%.
LIGHTING UP: Just as time had nearly run out for Isilio Arriaga to be reappointed to the Florida Public Service Commission, he received a call last week from Gov. Jeb Bush informing him that he had been appointed to a full four-year term to begin Jan. 1. Mr. Arriaga, appointed as an interim last October, said he is delighted by the governor's confidence in him. "You have to make the best decision without tilting the balance toward the utility companies or the consumer. This is a position in which you make almost everyone unhappy," said the former president and CEO of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. "I really do not think there is a more important job in the state than this one. The economy depends on our decisions because if the lights are not on, nobody can work." Mr. Arriaga continues to serve the chamber as a volunteer trustee.
ORANGE BOWL UPGRADE: The Orange Bowl is soon to get a makeover with expanded concession areas and restrooms, upgraded concourse and seats and a new scoreboard. Miami commissioners Sept. 12 approved HNTB and Bermello Ajamil & Partners to lead renovations. The project is overseen by Jones Lang LaSalle, which handles program management and commercial real estate services. The architectural and construction plans have not been defined.
BOOKS AND DONUTS: County commissioners are to vote Tuesday to lease four stores at Miami International Airport for eight years to Borders Group Inc. The group proposes a bookstore café tied to Dunkin Donuts. The county is to receive a percentage of gross revenues or a minimum annual guarantee of $192,002, whichever is greater. The bid survived a protest hearing sought by AMS South Florida, the second-highest bidder.
MEGA-YACHT BID: Flagstone Island Gardens' bid to dredge bay bottom off Watson Island to create a 50-slip mega-yacht marina comes before county commissioners Tuesday. The developer of the marina and a pair of luxury hotels on Miami-owned land on the island is requesting a variance to place fixed structures over the bay.
CIRQUE'S PAYBACK: Cirque du Soleil, which is in talks with the City of Miami Beach to take over the Jackie Gleason Theatre as the new Carnival Center for the Performing Arts drains programming from the Miami Beach venue, said Tuesday that it will present a proposal next month that will include setting aside more than $1 million a year to be split equally between community social and cultural action programs and local organizations that help overseas communities having a strong South Florida presence. Meetings on the plan are under way, according to Eric Fournier, senior vice president of new ventures for the entertainment giant.
ITALY TRADE LINK: Fiera Milano, an Italian trade-show service provider that is one of the largest worldwide, now has a desk in the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce Southeast, 270 NE Fourth St. "This initiative shows the positive perception and growing interest of Italian economic and commercial players on the entire Southeast of the US," said chamber president Giampiero Di Persia. Each year, Fiera Milano hosts more than 75 exhibitions, conferences and trade shows, most of international significance, attracting 30,000 exhibitors and 4.5 million visitors. The desk is to promote trade shows, organize business meetings and assist exhibitors and buyers with logistics in Florida and Milan. Details: (305) 577-9868.
TALL STORY: MDM Development Group has landed the ultimate high-profile investor in 7-foot Miami Heat basketball star Shaquille O'Neal, who is now a player in the Metropolitan Miami project. Although financial terms were not disclosed, his new real estate and development venture, The O'Neal Group, has a financial stake in the $1 billion mixed-use development and is to help sell and market the project as part of the sales team. The development will include a Shaquille's 24-Hour Fitness facility. Over his NBA career, publicists said, Mr. O'Neal has amassed residential and commercial property valued at more than $50 million. Details: (305) 960-9990.
WIRELESS COUNTY: Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez is to host a town-hall meeting at 7 tonight (9/21) at Miami Senior High, 2450 SW First St., to get input on his Wireless Miami-Dade Initiative, which seeks to offer low-cost, high-speed Internet access throughout the county's 2,000 square miles. "This would make us more able to compete in a global economy and make us more appealing to tech-savvy companies," said Vicki Mallette, his spokeswoman. Details: (305) 375-1545.
RECORD DONATION: Miami businesswoman Gloria Martin donated $1,104,200.60 to the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a private agency that provides social services for the visually impaired. The unusual amount commemorates the date of the Lighthouse's 75th Anniversary Jubilee Gala on Nov. 4 and is the largest donation the agency has received by a living private donor. She said she was inspired to donate the money because her friend, music producer Henry Stone, became a Lighthouse client.
ARGENTINA TUNES IN: Four Argentinean journalists representing TV, radio and magazine outlets are to be in town through the weekend as part of the Miami/LAN Argentina tour, inaugurating a nonstop air route between Buenos Aires and Miami. Andrea Fernandez, who writes for Ambito Magazine, an Argentinean business publication, is slated to be in Miami later this month to conduct research.
CORRECTION: Sushi Maki is at 5812 Sunset Dr. Its location was incorrectly reported in the Dining Out section Sept. 7.