Written by Miami Today on November 2, 2006
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SUPER SPRUCE UP: Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones wants Overtown ready for the Super Bowl. In a Community Redevelopment Agency meeting Monday night, she asked interim Executive Director Jim Villacorta to request proposals for streetscape improvements and beautification of the Metrorail overpass at Northwest 11th Street and Third Avenue. "The Super Bowl is coming to Miami and last year when it went to Detroit they did a lot to beautify the area," she said. "But I want this to be a yearly maintenance program and not just for the Super Bowl. This is something that we need to do to showcase the area, but it is going to stay once the Super Bowl is gone."
LOCAL PREFERENCE: The Overtown/Parkwest and Omni Redevelopment Agencies will confine a search for an executive director to the local area. Miami commissioners voted Monday to begin advertising this week for the post. "We want to hire the person that is right for the job," said Commissioner Tomás Regalado, "someone that understands this unique organization and knows who the important players are. This is for the people of Overtown." The job has been open since Frank Rollason resigned to run for Miami’s District 2 commission seat. Assistant City Attorney Jim Villacorta has been interim executive director.
URBANA GETS THUMBS UP: The $184 million Urbana Tower is to rise at 1741, 1753 and 1773 NE Second Ave., 221 and 231 NE 17th Terrace and 1768 NE Second Court. Miami city commissioners gave the OK for Urbana Development Associates to build the 37-story, 100-unit structure with 120,102 square feet of offices and 9,846 square feet of retail with 592 parking spaces. The structure will share space with the S&S Diner, the 1938 Art Deco eatery, at the ground level. The developers promised restaurant owner Simon Elbaz a new state-of-the-art kitchen along with outdoor dining space.
ON THE PARK PROGRESS: Miami commissioners changed land use and zoning at 1770 and 1778 N. Bayshore Dr., 1799 NE Fourth Ave. and 430 NE 18th St. from high-density multifamily residential to restricted commercial and from R-4 multifamily high-density residential to SD-6 central commercial-residential to accommodate the On the Park residential development. The 47-story On the Park includes 648 units, 9,400 square feet for retail and 859 parking spaces. Developers On the Park Properties LLC and On the Park Properties II LLC are expected to request a major use special permit for the project Nov. 9. Commissioners also granted a major use special permit for Five Properties, to be built at 4350 NW 10th St. The seven-story project includes 155 units and 321 parking spaces.
LANE CLOSURES OVER: Don’t expect more lane closures along the Brickell Bridge. Carlos Sarmiento, public information specialist with the Florida Department of Transportation, says major street closures related to construction of an added northbound lane on the bridge are finished. Construction is expected to be done in mid-November. "Now we are basically finishing up on punch-list items, which are smaller pieces of work needed to finish the project," he said. In the most recent closure, Oct. 17 and 18, the transportation department halted northbound traffic from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. from Southeast Seventh Street to Southeast Fourth Street. The $2.2 million project began in February to add a northbound lane to ease traffic flow into the Central Business District.
HOUSING IDEAS: The public can suggest ways to close Miami-Dade County’s affordable-housing gap at a forum 6-9 p.m. today (11/2) at the Lehman Theater on the Miami-Dade College North Campus. The forum is sponsored by the Community Affordable Housing Strategies Alliance, which plans to present recommendations to the county commission. A similar meeting was to be held Wednesday (11/1) at the college’s Kendall campus.
COLONIAL ACQUIRED: DYL Group, developer of projects including Infinity at Brickell and sister tower Infinity II Lofts at Brickell, has acquired majority interest in Colonial Development Group, which specializes in luxury residential condominiums, hotels, resorts and mixed-use projects. DYL’s corporate offices are in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Details: www.thedylgroup.com.
ALLIANCE BOARD ADDITION: Theodore N. Carter, senior managing director of CB Richard Ellis’ South Florida operations, has been appointed to the governing board of the Broward Alliance, that county’s economic development agency. "We are very pleased to welcome Ted to our board," said James P. Tarlton, the organization’s president and CEO. His appointment brings the board to 41 members. Details: www.browardalliance.org.
SUPER BOWL LOOK: The Super Bowl XLI Host Committee, to encourage businesses to convey the look and feel of the Super Bowl in preparation for the game, is making in-door banners available at a nominal fee. Banners of varying sizes and shapes are made of high-quality cloth and are sponsor-free. The deadline to participate is Nov. 20. Details: (305) 614-7566.
CONFERENCE CENTRAL: Miami will host the National Council of La Raza Annual Conference, council President and CEO Janet Murguia is expected to announce Monday at a reception hosted by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Emilio Estefan Jr. The group is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the US and is headquartered in Washington, DC, with offices across the US and Puerto Rico. More than 20,000 people — including government, non-profit and youth leaders, as well as local consumers — are expected to attend the July 21-24 conference and Latin Expo at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Speakers at last year’s event included former President Bill Clinton and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
CLASSICAL CAPER: The curtain has fallen on a trio of street signs honoring Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Gus Noguera, founder and executive director of the Beethoven Society of Miami-Dade, said the signs vanished from the north side of Mary Brickell Village last month. His concern hit a crescendo when an ensemble of German tourists eager to pay tribute to the composer traveled to Miami only to learn that the signs were missing. Mr. Noguera has several theories regarding their disappearance — one being a classic case of Mozart fans unwilling to live in harmony with Beethoven supporters. In e-mails to the Miami public works department, Mr. Noguera, generally composed, said he will change his tune when the culprit is caught and the signs replaced. On a high note, public works said the signs should make their encore appearance by Nov. 20.
BEACH BONDS UPGRADED: Moody’s Investors Service, one of the nation’s bond-rating services, has upgraded Miami Beach’s General Obligation Bond rating from A1 to Aa3. "We’ve been able to successfully diversify and strengthen our economic base while continuing to grow through prudent fiscal policy and management," said City Manager Jorge M. Gonzalez. According to Moody’s, the Aa3 rating is based on the city’s substantial tax base with an established national and international tourism and entertainment-based economy, as well as a solid financial position, sound budgeting practices and average debt burden.
SUNSHINE HONORS: The South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is to honor two businesses at its 12th annual Sunshine Awards Luncheon Nov. 3 at the Palm Restaurant in Coral Gables. Avaya, a business communications company, is to be honored as communications company of the year and 1•866•JUNK•BE•GONE, which specializes in junk and trash removal for residential, commercial and industrial clients, is to be named company of the year. 1•866•JUNK•BE•GONE uses Avaya as its communications company, said Lilliam Lopez, chamber president and CEO.
HONOR FOR STIERHEIMS: Merrett R. Stierheim, his wife, Judy Cannon Stierheim, and their family were named the Family of the Year by Family Counseling Services of Greater Miami. Mr. Stierheim has held numerous offices in five decades of public service — including Miami-Dade County manager, Miami city manager and school district superintendent. Mrs. Stierheim is board president of the League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade County and past chairwoman of the Urban League of Greater Miami.
BANK ARRIVES ON BRICKELL: An awards ceremony for the International Finance Bank World of Dreamers campaign highlighted the bank’s grand opening Oct. 25 at new branch and executive offices at 801 Brickell Ave. "The objective of the IFB World of Dreamers program is to recognize the visionary labor of the leaders that have made South Florida one of the most important and creative regions in the United States," said Nelson Alvarado, bank president. Honored were Horacio Aguirre, founder of Diario Las Américas; Ella Fontanals-Cisneros of the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation; and William Alexander, president of the Latin Chamber of Commerce of the US. The bank, part of Groupo IF, is a Florida-chartered commercial bank with branches in Weston, Westchester and Coral Gables. Francisco Roche, director general of Groupo IF, came from Madrid for the event.
FAMILIAR SOUNDS: Guests at the grand opening of International Finance Bank’s executive offices and Brickell branch were serenaded by musicians from Orchestra Miami, a 36-person ensemble composed primarily of musicians from the former Florida Philharmonic that played selections ranging from classical to The Beatles. "It’s been a very emotional, difficult process for the many people who supported and loved it," said Elaine Rinaldi, the new orchestra’s musical director, regarding the Florida Philharmonic, which went bankrupt in 2003. She knew the musicians from her tenure as the associate conductor of the Florida Grand Opera, for which the Philharmonic had played. Orchestra Miami performs publicly and for private functions. "We’ve had a certain measure of success and we’re making people know who we are so we are trying to do things on a broader scale," she said. Details: (305) 274-2103, www.orchestramiami.com.
WALKING THE VOTE: About 100 students from Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus were to participate in early voting Wednesday (11/1) at the Stephen Clark Government Center at 111 NW First St. The One Walk, One Vote event, organized by the school’s Student Government Association, was to include a panel discussion about where candidates stand on issues before Miami Dade students were to walk to the polls with students from the New World School of the Arts. The non-partisan campaign is designed to increase the awareness of college-age voters.
LATIN AMERICA DEVELOPMENT: The Association of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce in Florida is to host a panel discussion today (11/2) in which several executives of the Latin American operations of multinational corporations will discuss the subject Evaluating Political Risk when Investing or Developing in Latin America. Each panelist is to make a short presentation about the dangers private companies face when developing business in Latin America. The event is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables. The discussion is to be moderated by Jonas Haeger, president of Heron Medical Devices Inc. and Surgical Team Inc.
NFL EXPERIENCE RETURNS: Football fans in South Florida can sample the National Football League Experience during the week before Super Bowl XLI, Feb. 4 at Dolphins Stadium. The NFL Experience, an interactive theme park with more than 50 games and rides and free football clinics, will be open Jan. 27-28 and Feb. 1-4. Tickets, which will go on sale in December, will cost $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and younger.
CHURCH CELEBRATES: Gesu Catholic Church, oldest Catholic Church in Miami, celebrated its 110th anniversary Saturday with a gala dinner at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, 1109 Brickell Ave. Grammy Award-winning singer and Miami resident Jon Secada and wife Maritere were honorary chairs. Univision anchor Alina Mayo Azze was emcee.
INTERNET IMPROVEMENT: Continuing his initiative to provide affordable wireless broadband Internet connectivity to all 2,000 square miles of Miami-Dade County, Mayor Carlos Alvarez and his Wireless Miami-Dade steering committee plan to establish a non-profit organization to initiate wireless projects in Miami, Miami Gardens and a portion of South Miami-Dade. He said he will ask the school board to work with the not-for-profit.
VISUALIZING VISUAL ARTS: The visual arts in Miami’s future will be the focus of an International Roundtable at 5 p.m. Nov. 8. Speakers will include Bonnie Clearwater, executive director and chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art; Stefanie Block Reed, head of VIP relations for Art Basel Miami Beach; and Mark Coetzee, director and curator of the Rubell Family Collection. The free roundtable is sponsored by The Related Group, Icon Brickell and Miami Today. It will be held at the Icon Brickell’s waterfromt sales center at 501 Brickell Ave. To RSVP: (305) 358-2663.
CORRECTION: Miami law firm Akerman Senterfitt was misidentified in an FYI item Oct. 26 headlined "Brownout."