Written by Miami Today on April 5, 2007
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
of the news. Here are highlights from the most current edition.
ART JUMP START: The City of Miami’s Homeland Defense/Neighborhood Improvement Bond Oversight Board approved issuance of a $2 million grant to the Miami Art Museum to support development of its planned home in Bicentennial Park, a $208 million project. The grant, along with an initial $700,000 dispersed in March 2005, has been budgeted into the $255 million bond program since its 2001 inception. The city commission will be asked to give the final go-ahead April 12. If approved, funds would be released as reimbursements based on invoices the museum would submit to the city.
COPIOUS CAREERS: Miami-Dade County’s unemployment rate hit a record low 3.1% in February, the lowest rate since 1983, according to the Beacon Council. It decreased 0.3 percentage points from January 2007 and 0.6 percentage points from February 2006. In February, nonagricultural employment in Miami-Dade was 1,053,600 with a net gain of 9,900 new jobs, a 0.9 percentage point rise over the previous year, says South Florida Workforce, a jobs creation agency. Sectors with increases included construction, financial activities, retail trade, wholesale trade, hospitality, hospitals and professional services.
WE’RE NO. 1: Greater Miami and the Beaches topped Smith Travel Research’s Top 25 Destinations in the US in February for both hotel occupancy and average daily rate, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. It was the first time a destination has reached number one in both categories. Miami was ranked second last year. This is the first time the Magic City beat New York in average daily rate and Oahu Island in occupancy. The February average daily room rate locally was $230.46. It was $216.80 in New York. Occupancy reached 81.7% in Miami and the Beaches and only 79.9% in Oahu Island.
GROVE GOAHEAD: The Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce passed a resolution Tuesday endorsing Miami-Dade County’s 27th Avenue improvement plans. The chamber’s directors see an improved roadway as a more "attractive and effective means of accessing Coconut Grove," the resolution says. It calls for a special emphasis on the aesthetics, sustainability and maintenance of the road’s landscaping.
MEXICAN HAT DANCE: The United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce Inter-American Chapter will host a farewell cocktail reception for Jorge Barreto, trade commissioner of Mexico in Miami, in honor of his retirement. Hector Garcia will move from Mexico to take over the post. The reception will be held 7-9 p.m. April 11 at the Coral Gables Country Club, 997 N. Greenway Drive.
CHAMBER TEES OFF: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce will host its fourth annual Chamber Classic Golf Tournament 7 a.m. April 12 at Don Shula’s Golf Club in Miami Lakes. The Miccosukee Tribe will present the event. Details: (305) 577-5453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NATIONAL HOTEL SOLD: French investor Claude Dray on Tuesday bought the historic National Hotel at 1677 Collins Ave. in Miami Beach. Mr. Dray reached a deal with Florida Resort Management Ltd. to buy the 151-room, 11-story Art Deco hotel that was built in 1939. Law firm Shutts & Bowen represented Mr. Dray in the transaction. Exact financial terms were not disclosed.
PORT TUNNEL UPDATE: Three companies vying to build a Port of Miami tunnel submitted Maximum Availability Payment estimates Tuesday ranging from $33 million to $63 million a year through duration of construction, Miami-Dade County officials say. The Maximum Availability Payment is part of the amount paid by project sponsors to the developer assuming all elements of the tunnel are fully available as needed, county officials say. Three groups of companies submitted bids to build and operate the tunnel, a project county officials say would cost $1.3 billion and be completed in 2013. They are FCC Construcción, a consortium of FCC Construcción of Madrid and Morgan Stanley of New York; Miami Access Tunnel, a consortium of Bouygues Travaux Publics of Montigny-le-Bretonneux, France, and Babcock & Brown Infrastructure Group of Toronto; and Miami Mobility Group, a consortium of ACS Infrastructure Development-Dragados USA of Coral Gables and Odebrecht Construction of Coral Gables. Details: www.portofmiamitunnel.com.
SOBE RITZ ADDS TOWER: The developers of The Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences South Beach unveiled plans last week to build a new 8-story, 55-unit tower on the west side of Collins Avenue and 29th Street. Prices for the new residences begin in the $700,000s. Construction of three other oceanfront residential towers are to begin in the next few months. All four towers are scheduled for completion in late 2009. Details: www.rcr-southbeach.com.
NEEDS NURSES: To combat a South Florida nursing shortage, the Jackson Memorial Foundation donated $300,000 last week to Miami-Dade College to improve its nursing program, college officials say. The donation will be used to support 80 full scholarships and allow the college to hire two more full-time and up to eight adjunct faculty members. This comes as the Department of Health and Human Services projects that nationally, based on current vacancy rates, there will be more than 1 million unfilled registered nurse positions by 2020. Details: www.mdc.edu.
SERVING SHARAPOVA: The 3-year-old Brickell Tennis Club last weekend landed its highest-profile member — Maria Sharapova, the world’s top-ranked women’s tennis player. Club co-founders Tom and Delphine Brownhill awarded her an honorary membership when the two-time Grand Slam winner practiced at the South Miami Avenue club after she was eliminated in the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne. Details: www.cliffdrysdale.com/brickell.htm.
CORRECTION: A March 29 article should have reported the Miami International Airport’s Capital Improvement Projects budget has risen to $6.2 billion and that Concourse J has 15 gates and has been built to accommodate the Airbus A380 double-decker aircraft.