Written by Miami Today on February 22, 2007
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MIAMI NAMES CFO: Miami’s financial health will continue to be overseen by Larry Spring, who was promoted from acting to permanent chief financial officer Tuesday by City Manager Pete Hernandez. A former private banker and graduate of Tulane University in New Orleans, Mr. Spring will monitor six departments — including finance, economic development and public facilities. He will cede his budgeting responsibilities to Michael Boudreaux, who will serve as acting chief of strategic planning, budgeting and performance while a formal interview process takes place.
SPRING STATES GOALS: Fiscal accountability and sustained tax relief for Miami residents are top priorities for Mr. Spring, who was promoted after serving on an interim basis since July. Mr. Spring said Tuesday that he will continue trying to improve the city’s bond rating, which has not changed since Moody’s Investor Service bumped it to A2 from A3 in November. An improved rating allows the city to issue bonds at a lower interest rate. Mr. Spring said he will meet with bonding-agency officials in March.
STAYING MUM ON MERCY: The co-chairmen of a support group for historic landmark Vizcaya Museum and Gardens sent a letter advising group members not to discuss with Miami city commissioners a proposed residential development on nearby Mercy Hospital land. Vizcaya and Miami-Dade County officials are investigating how a three-tower condo development ranging from 30 to 32 stories would affect the museum’s sight lines and its ability to attract visitors. Support group co-chairman Max Blumberg said Tuesday that museum trustees and officials are "in the fact-finding stages" but could take a formal advocacy position when the project is presented to commissioners for second reading in March.
OPA-LOCKA PROJECT: Miami-Dade County and Federal Aviation Administration officials approved a long-term ground lease for CPF Investment Group to build a 2.6 million-square-foot mixed-use complex on 178 acres bordering Opa-locka Executive Airport and Northwest 57th Avenue. The $250 million Aviation and Commerce Center project, scheduled for construction start in the second quarter of this year, is to include retail, warehouse and hangar space. The hangar is expected to generate 3,000 jobs and have a $1 billion economic impact, company officials say.
CLINTON UM SPEAKER: University of Miami spring graduates will be addressed by former president Bill Clinton at 4 p.m. March 1 at the BankUnited Center on campus in Coral Gables. Mr. Clinton, the 42nd president, will be the featured speaker for the Spring Convocation. Tickets are available for university students, employees and alumni on a first-come, first-served basis. Details: (305) 284-5500.
SUPER-SIZE HOTEL RATES: The Super Bowl didn’t completely fill Miami’s hotels, but tallies show that 85.1% of Miami-Dade County rooms were filled Feb. 1-4, compared to 82% the year before, says William Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. In addition, the average daily rate was $356.89, up a whopping 94.6% from $183.36 last year — when, of course, no Super Bowl was in town. Not surprisingly, Miami Beach, where most of the Super Bowl festivities were, made out best in hotel occupancy, ranging from a low of 85.7% to a high of 96.3% over the four days. Although overall figures fell slightly short of the near-100% occupancy predicted, "all of the hotel operators I spoke to were happy," Mr. Talbert said. "The beauty of Miami is that you clean up the streets, pick up the trash, and then the Miami International Boat Show arrives. Then you do it again and its time for the South Beach Food and Wine Festival and so on."
CHINESE BONANZA: The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau continues to lay groundwork in hopes of reaping an eventual bonanza in Chinese tourism. A group of 33 Chinese travel representatives arrived at midnight Monday and are spending a few days here learning about Miami before continuing to Orlando. The trip is co-sponsored by Visit Florida and the Orlando Convention & Visitors Bureau. Last September, 38 aspiring Chinese supermodels along with their agents and a television crew visited Miami for a TV show. Last March, a delegation from the Miami bureau spent about two weeks there.
MERCY GIFT: The lobby of Mercy Hospital’s Ortega Bonet Miami Cancer Center will be designated the Ocean Bank Lobby in recognition of the bank’s $500,000 donation that enabled the hospital to buy Image Guided Radiation Therapy technology, a system that enables doctors to combine imaging techniques to pinpoint tumors more accurately before using radiation.
BUYING TIME: With Orlando’s application to trademark the slogan The City Beautiful in its early stages of approval, Coral Gables representatives vying for claim to the moniker have until June 6 to file an opposition to Orlando’s application, said attorney David Rogero. The opposition period was set for Feb. 6-March 6, but the city filed for a three-month extension to allow time to discuss shared usage with Orlando officials. "We have begun discussions with the attorney representing the City of Orlando," Mr. Rogero said.
CENTRAL AMERICA CALLING: The Minority Chamber of Commerce, a national organization based in Miami, recently opened offices in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to represent US companies in the Central American market. The offices will offer project coordination and logistical support for US companies seeking to relocate manufacturing operations to Honduras. The chamber will promote the products and services of US export-ready companies within the Honduran and Central American markets. Chamber representatives say the expansion comes as a result of heightened demand for US services and products in the country. The Minority Chamber is the only US Chamber of Commerce with permanent trade offices in Honduras, representatives say.