Written by Miami Today on October 5, 2006
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
of the news. Here are highlights from the most current edition.
GLEASON TAKEOVER: Miami Beach administrators are to make a presentation on three companies vying to take over the Jackie Gleason Theatre of the Performing Arts when the Cultural Arts Neighborhood District Overlay Committee meets at 10 a.m. Oct. 12 at city hall, 1700 Convention Center Dr. "The Jackie Gleason Theatre is right in the center of the cultural-arts district, so the mayor believes this is an appropriate topic for the committee," said A.C. Weinstein, Mayor David Dermer’s senior political advisor. The city commission is to hold a special meeting Oct. 18 to decide whether to transform the venue into a permanent Cirque du Soleil facility or hand it over to AEG Live or Live Nation, which book their own shows.
RAPIDS GETS GO-AHEAD: The Miami River Rapids won unanimous approval from Miami commissioners during a planning and zoning meeting Sept. 28. The four-building, mixed-use development ranging from 115 to 143 feet tall with 1,590 residences, 65,852 square feet of retail and restaurant space and 2,200 parking spaces received a major use special permit to build at 1701, 1801, 1825, and 1851 Delaware Parkway and 2990 NW South River Dr. Developer A+ Mini Storage Airport LLC also received the go-ahead to change the zoning and land use.
CITISQUARE ROAD CLOSINGS: Citisquare Group LLC, developer of the 695,000-square-foot City Square retail project that is to rise behind the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, must wait until the next planning and zoning board meeting at Miami City Hall to request the closing and vacating of an easement of property between Northwest 13th and 15th streets, Herald Plaza and Northeast Bayshore Drive to unify the project’s site. Last week’s meeting passed the designated 5:05 p.m. time to make way for the final budget hearing, leaving many planning and zoning items without a vote. The next scheduled meeting is Oct. 26.
COSTLY QUARTERS: Miami’s housing market is one of the more expensive in the nation, with an average sale price of $690,855 for a 2,200-square-foot home — more than $200,000 above the national average, a study finds. The Coldwell Banker Home Price Comparison Index, released last week, surveyed 317 US markets, finding Beverly Hills, CA, the most expensive, with an average sale price of $1.8 million. Key West’s market is the most expensive in Florida, the study finds, at an $872,250 average. Pensacola is the state’s most affordable market, at an average sale price of $272,133.
TRADING FUNDS: Miami-Dade commissioners are being asked to take back more than $110,000 the county gave the non-profit Trade Mission Center of the Americas in 2000 to promote international trade and to use it as a trust fund separate from the county budget for such trade-related activities as missions abroad, special protocol gifts and hosting visiting dignitaries. The proposal by Commissioner Natacha Seijas, to be heard Tuesday, would create the Jay Malina International Trade Consortium Trust Fund, whose expenditures would not fall under the county’s formal bid and purchasing procedures. The funds could also be used to fund the retreats for the trade consortium’s board of directors, which Ms. Seijas chairs.
WATSON ISLAND DELAY: Miami-Dade commissioners postponed until Tuesday a vote on whether to allow Flagstone Property Group to create a 50-slip mega-yacht marina on Watson Island. Commissioners unanimously approved the delay in order to consider public access concerns, the impact a marina would have on the county’s water supply and the environment, and modifications developers made to project plans, said Toni-Anne Blake, commission spokesperson. To accommodate the mega-yachts, Flagstone officials say they must dredge 15.81 acres of Biscayne Bay’s bottom.
DADELAND OFFICE BUILDING: Green Dadeland Station Ltd. wants to build a 150,000-square-foot office building with storefront retail at the Dadeland North Metrorail Station site, where it is in the 12th year of a 90-year lease with the county for retail and residential joint development. Miami-Dade commissioners are to decide Tuesday whether to amend the lease to let the company move forward. If approved, construction is expected to begin next year.
NFL GRANT: Miami-Dade commissioners are to vote Tuesday whether to seek a $40,000 grant from the National Football League for the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center. The grant would allow 100 local artists to perform a 90-minute tribute to music and dance traditions of the African Diaspora at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium a week before the Super Bowl is played in Dolphins Stadium on Feb. 4. The center is one of five cultural parks and facilities the county manages.
CONE OF SILENCE: Miami-Dade commissioners are to vote Tuesday on proposed amendments to the county’s Cone of Silence law, which prohibits communication between county staff and the selection committee about project bids. The measure would let county officials communicate with selection committee members as long as the matter wouldn’t influence the committee’s recommendations. The measure would also let a bidder communicate with employees of the department issuing the bid.
PAYING DOUBLE: Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez proposes to double fines issued by the county’s Ethics Commission for first and second violations. If commissioners approve Tuesday, a first offense fine would be $500 instead of $250 and a second violation fine would rise from $500 to $1,000.
TERMED OUT: Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro is seeking to end rules limiting terms for county commission chairmen and vice chairmen. If his measure passes Tuesday, both could serve beyond current two-year limits. The item would also remove term limits for committee chairmen.
TRAIL GLADES EXPANSION: Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz hosted a ceremony Tuesday marking the $1.4 million expansion of the Trail Glades shooting range at 17601 SW Eighth St. The county’s parks and recreation department recently bought 20 acres for the range with Building Better Communities Bond funds. Construction of new shooting stations and a range master building is to begin in 2008.
MEDICAL MONIKER: Florida International University’s medical school, to admit its first class in 2008, will be the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, the board of trustees decided Friday. The Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation committed $20 million to the FIU College of Medicine last year. The donation, largest in FIU history, is eligible for a state match. Half the $40-million total will fund construction and facility needs; the rest will establish the Dr. Herbert Wertheim Medical Education Endowment Fund to support scholarships, professorships, lectures and residencies. Prior to this contribution, Wertheim gifts funded about $18 million in academic and facility support at FIU. "This is truly Herbert Wertheim’s College of Medicine because his support and vision are two of the elements that made it possible for South Florida to get a public medical school," said Modesto Maidique, FIU’s president, in a press release.
UNIVERSITY UPGRADE: By 2008, Florida International University’s 7,500-seat football facility is to have 20,000 seats, including luxury suites, results of a renovation set to cost about $34 million. FIU’s board of trustees Friday approved this project as well as construction of a $24-million, 100,000-square-foot student center to house undergraduate advising, admissions, financial aid and a welcome center by 2009. About two-thirds of the stadium project, which consists of a wrap-around concourse with a full field view, 14 luxury suites, 1,400 club seats, a video scoreboard and a stadium club, will be funded by athletic fees, NCAA funds, vendor contributions and ticket sales.
IDEAS AND SUGGESTIONS: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce is seeking motorists’ ideas for short-term solutions to traffic hassles. "In our community, transportation challenges play a key role for our businesses and our overall quality of life," said Joseph H. Serota, who heads the chamber’s Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. The survey is designed to focus on short-term solutions as input for the chamber’s 2006 Transportation Summit on Nov. 29 at Parrot Jungle. The online survey can be accessed at miamichamber.com. Details: (305) 577-5491 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHO’S YOUR HERO? Nominations are sought for the 10th annual Health Care Heroes Awards sponsored by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. The awards recognize individuals, institutions and programs that make extraordinary impact in the South Florida healthcare community. A lifetime achievement award will go to an individual who has made a significant impact or changed history in health care. The awards will be presented April 27. Details: (305) 577-5491 or email@example.com.
BRICKELL ARRIVAL: International Finance Bank, a Miami bank with a network of banks in Latin America, will open a branch at 801 Brickell with a performance by Orchestra Miami 6-9 p.m. Oct. 25. The bank’s other three South Florida offices are in Coral Gables, Westchester and Weston. The Brickell branch will become headquarters here. IFB is part of Grupo Fierro, whose their financial divisions include Banco Exterior in Venezuela, Banco Interamericano de Finanzas-BIF in Peru, Banco Internacional in Ecuador and Guatemala, and the EBNA Bank in Curaçao. Details: (305) 856-9491.