Written by Miami Today on December 21, 2006
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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47-STORY TOWER: On the Park Properties wants to build 648 residential units and retail space at 1770 N. Bayshore Drive. The developer is to ask Miami commissioners today (12/14) for a major-use special permit to start work. The 47-story complex would have 859 parking spaces and recreational amenities.
25-STORY PROJECT: A Miami developer seeks a major-use special permit to build Civica Towers at 1050 NW 14th St. Miami Hotel Investments Ltd. is to ask city commissioners to award the permit today (12/14) to build 25 stories of office and retail space and about 430 hotel rooms. The planning department and the advisory board recommended a yes vote.
BUILDING BAN: A plan to forbid all new commercial and industrial construction in an area bounded by Southwest 136th Street, 152nd Street, 107th Avenue and the Florida Turnpike’s Homestead extension is to be considered by the county commission next week. County Manager George Burgess is requesting the three-month ban on building permits to give his staff time to study the effect of commercial development in the mostly residential area. The ban could become permanent after a hearing, according to government documents.
STUCK IN PARK: An agreement to pay $23.5 million for a yet-to-be-built 1,583-space garage at the new Poinciana Biopharmaceutical Park on Northwest 75th Street in Liberty City was yanked from the agenda of the county commission’s Infrastructure and Land Use Committee this week. Staffers said County Manager George Burgess wants another look at the deal before recommending action sometime next month. The garage is the first phase of a massive redevelopment that’s to include offices, housing and retail. Plans also call for Florida A&M University to build a pharmacy school at the site.
WATCHDOGS: Gov.-elect Charlie Crist last week announced team leaders, some local, to oversee the assessment of state agencies. Adolfo Henriques, chairman, president and CEO of Florida East Coast Industries, will review Enterprise Florida, the public-private partnership for statewide economic development. Jorge Arrizurieta, chairman of the international policy group for Akerman Senterfitt, will review the Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development. Benjamin Leon Jr., president and CEO of Leon Medical Centers, will review the Department of Elder Affairs. Eric Buermann, an attorney with Squire, Saunders and Dempsey, will review the Department of Environmental Protection.
PROPERTY PROSPECTS: Coral Gables will hire The Washington Economics Group to develop a forecasting model estimating future changes in property values in the city. "We face a number of challenges," said Mayor Donald Slesnick. "We’ve had some rising evaluations the past four to five years." Of the 146 properties that make up the city’s Business Improvement District, 50 went up in assessment 30% or more in the past year, the largest increase being 127%, said Mari Molina, executive director of the district, in October. Tony Villamil, the economics group’s CEO, said he will "take a look and see what has happened with property values from an economic view." Said City Manager David Brown, the model, once developed, will "help us forecast the future."
MORE CABIN ROOM: Norwegian Cruise Line is adding 22,000 square feet and renovating its Doral headquarters, saying it intends to stay at least 12 more years. "This lease will take us beyond our 50th year as one of Miami’s largest employers and fastest-growing companies," said Colin Veitch, chairman and CEO. The line now occupies 208,737 square feet — about a fifth of Airport Corporate Center. The property is owned by Hines, an international real estate firm.
VISITING NEW HEIGHTS: David Whitaker, who was Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau senior VP of marketing and tourism, is now executive VP-chief marketing officer. In announcing the promotion Tuesday, William Talbert III, bureau president and CEO, called Mr. Whitaker "a consummate professional who is known throughout the industry" and said he will be in charge whenever Mr. Talbert is away. "I look forward to leveraging David’s expertise on strategic issues important to the travel and tourism industry and to assisting me in the operations of the bureau," Mr. Talbert said. Mr. Whitaker signed on in 1990 as membership director. Mr. Talbert also promoted Rolando Aedo to vice president of marketing and customer service from VP of marketing. Michelle Revulta was named acting associate VP of media relations to replace Jeanne Sullivan, who moved California, and Lyan Tassler, director of convention services, became associate VP of convention services.
EXPANDING CITY PARK: The Bayfront Park Management Trust wants to manage 10.5 acres of city-owned land next to Bicentennial Park, which the trust oversees. Miami commissioners are to decide today (12/14) whether to hand temporary control of the land to the trust to incorporate into its master plan for Bicentennial Park.
PAYING NOT TO PARK: Miami Beach developers must now pay $35,000 per parking space, up from $15,000, to be exempt from creating parking for new projects. The city commission voted 5-2 last week to raise the payments. "We’ve been hemorrhaging from a parking standpoint. We’ve been giving developers an incentive not to create parking," said Commissioner Richard Steinberg, who proposed the hike. Stuart Blumberg, president and CEO of the Greater Miami & the Beaches Hotel Association, and David Kelsey, president of the South Beach Hotel and Restaurant Association, argued against it. After the vote, Mr. Kelsey said, "It’s almost like racketeering. This will push small businesses farther out of South Beach." Mr. Steinberg had originally proposed $45,000. Property owners can pay the fee at 4% a year, instead of 3% as previously charged. Any further increases will be tied to the Consumer Price Index.
ART BASEL BOOMED: Mark your 2007 calendar for Dec. 6-9, when Art Basel Miami Beach returns, having scored record numbers this year, organizers said. "The art market is booming. Art Basel Miami Beach benefited from this situation and attracted a record number of artists, collectors, museums and art lovers," said Samuel Keller, director of the international event. A record 40,000 visitors and 1,400 journalists (up from 2005’s 36,000 and 1,000) attended. Over 100 museums were represented and 200 galleries from 30 countries exhibited works by over 1,500 artists.
NAUTICAL ACQUISITION: South Florida gets its maritime museum Saturday, although it’s in Key West instead of Miami as originally envisioned. The grand opening of the USS Mohawk CGC Memorial Museum is at 11 a.m. Dec. 16 at the Truman Waterfront Old Navy Pier, where the cutter was taken, after city officials rejected Franz Boetes’ bid to permanently dock it in Miami. The opening will be marked by a military ceremony and a flyover by World War II aircraft. Veterans who served on the ship will be welcomed aboard. "I can already tell people are excited," Mr. Boetes said. "There are so many people taking photos and wanting to board it at Key West, it’s incredible." Details: www.USSMohawk.org
SHARING IS CARING: The Coral Gables City Commission voted Tuesday to allow establishments in South Miami to use Coral Gables commercial garages for after-hours valet while South Miami constructs its new downtown garage. City Manager David Brown said the arrangement, which provides for six months of 6 p.m.-2 a.m. parking for South Miami, with an option to extend six months, would help "relieve their parking" and could be revoked at any time should it pose a problem. City officials will consider Commissioner Rafael "Ralph" Cabrera’s concerns about "knucklehead valet drivers going through a neighborhood at 65 miles an hour," which "could possibly injure someone," when deciding which garages to use.
CODE CONCLUSION: Coral Gables came closer Tuesday to ending the almost three-year process of rewriting its entire zoning code for the first time. The commission approved the code, as amended with comments concerning the height of duplexes and commercial buildings adjacent to residences on first reading. It will be up for final reading Jan. 9. The intent of the rewrite was to make the code more user friendly, and "We have tried to protect against the growth of McMansions, we have placed additional conditions so anything commercial sitting next to a residence is better buffered," said City Manager David Brown.