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Fyi Miami

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Written by on April 12, 2007

FYI

Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead

of the news. Here are highlights from the most current edition.

   SELF-INFLICTED BEANBALL: Miami-Dade County Commissioner Natacha Seijas says the Florida Marlins hardly helped themselves over the weekend with their insistence that the team’s stadium be built downtown on a site designated for the county’s new juvenile-justice center. The team’s comments were a "completely and absolutely offensive" brushback of the county’s children, Ms. Seijas said Tuesday during a meeting of the commission’s Governmental Affairs and Operations committee. "The Marlins need to be more respectful when interviewed on TV. They need to be more respectful of the children’s courthouse."

   COMING SOON: Major League Baseball is preparing a schematic of a stadium as it would appear in the proposed downtown location. "As soon as they have something formalized, they’ll bring it to us," Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Joe Martinez said in a committee meeting Tuesday. The Florida Marlins want a retractable-roof ballpark with 37,000 seats and 60 suites to be built on nine acres of county- and city-owned land just north of the county government center north of Northwest Second Street, east of Interstate 95 and west of Metrorail. Commissioners have been reluctant to give full backing of the downtown location. "I know there are not seven votes here for this site," Mr. Martinez said at a Tuesday meeting of the Government Affairs and Operations Committee. The favored plan is to replace the Orange Bowl with a ballpark.

   BACK TO THE BAY: Some formerly favored sites for a stadium haven’t been discarded, county commissioners say. Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz said he has asked County Manager George Burgess to give further study to putting the ballpark on the Biscayne Bay front. "I’ve asked him to look at it," Mr. Diaz said, though he said he doubts a bayfront site is viable. The 29-acre Bicentennial Park, designated for a pair of museums, got a passing mention Tuesday. "If the city somehow has a change of mind, then that location would be back on the table," Mr. Diaz said. Also back on the table, he said, would be the problem of parking. That’s been a major challenge for the bayfront Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, he said, and would be an even bigger one for planners of a ballpark on the bay.

   GOING AWAY: The Fisher Island Community Council is in its final days, Miami-Dade County commissioners say. The commission’s Governmental Affairs and Operations Committee said the frequent failure of the zoning and land-use council to draw a quorum makes it difficult to justify continued funding of the panel. The committee directed staff Tuesday to prepare an ordinance to abolish the council and hand its zoning authority to another council to be determined by Team Metro based on location.

   GROUNDBREAKING GAMBLE: Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff never has attended a groundbreaking and has no plans to, he told developer Loretta Cockrum at the Brickell Area Association/Miami Today Of Importance to Brickell luncheon at the Conrad Hotel last week. But she’s determined to change that, convinced that he’ll get behind her green project, the 1.5 million-square-foot Brickell Financial Centre at 600 Brickell Ave. Mr. Sarnoff agreed to meet with her to discuss the project and said that if he chose to attend, her groundbreaking would be his first — although he’d promised his wife she’d never see him in a hardhat.

   MAKING HOUSING HASTE: After a pledge by Miami City Manager Pete Hernandez in February to work to speed up the permitting process for developers of affordable housing, the city administration is getting to work. Building department staffers have met with Miami-Dade County administrators, who agreed to expedite permits for builders proposing affordable housing in the city, said Hector Lima, city building director. Community development officials, he said, are drafting an official procedure for affordable-housing plans.

   HEAVY METAL: Coral Gables plans three meetings for discussions of whether to allow metal roofs on single-family homes. All are scheduled for 6-8 p.m. — April 18 at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens, 10901 Old Cutler Road; April 25 at War Memorial Youth Center, 405 University Dr.; and May 2 at City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way. Details: (305) 460-5202.

   COMING DOWN? The 300 Grove Bay Residences condo project proposed for 6.7 acres of Mercy Hospital land may shrink again. In a nine-hour Miami City Commission meeting last month, developers agreed to cut the maximum height of the two tallest towers from 410 feet to 318. On Monday, Related Group Chairman Jorge Perez — in talks with John Hinson, co-chairman of the special preservation committee of the Vizcayans, and Miami Planning Advisory Board chairwoman Arva Moore Parks — discussed further reduction of the height of the Related-Ocean Land Investments project before it returns to the commission April 26. "We are optimistic that Related will do the right thing," Mr. Hinson said. A community meeting at 6:30 p.m. April 18 at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, in the shadow of the project, is to look at what the zoning sought for the project could mean to the future of Coconut Grove.

   AMERICAN ACTIVITY: The University of Miami’s Center for Hemispheric Policy will host its second annual Latin America Conference 8 a.m.-3 p.m. April 19 at the JW Marriott Hotel, 1109 Brickell Ave. Experts will address energy and security cooperation, populism and political risk, Latin America in the global economy and US-Latin America relations. Speakers include Enrique García, president of Andean Development Corp.; H.E. José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States; Héctor Morales, US executive director of Inter-American Development Bank; and Ali Moshiri, president of Latin America exploration and production for Chevron Corp. Details: (305) 284-9918, or www.miami.edu/chp.

   CROSS-CONTINENTAL CHATTER: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce will host a Global Business Briefing panel, China & Latin America: New Commercial Realities? at 11:30 a.m. April 30 at Regions Bank, 2800 Ponce de Leon Blvd. Panelists — including Joe Chi of the China Latin America Trade Center; JP Faber, publisher of China Trade magazine; Carl Cira of Florida International University’s Latin America and Caribbean Center; and James Kilpatrick, visiting professor at the University of Miami — will discuss the effect of China and Latin American business on Miami’s economy. Details: (305) 577-5477.

   TOWNHOMES OPENING: Floridian Key Homes, a 614-unit townhome development in Florida City, is to open its first units in mid-April. The two-, three- and four-bedroom homes begin at $150,000 and range from 1,150 to 1,830 square feet. TCB Construction Inc. is general contractor, and The Keyes Co. is sales and marketing agent. The sales center is at 250 E. Palm Drive, Suite 410, Florida City. Details: (786) 243-7722 or www.floridiankey.com.

   INDUSTRIAL LAND DEALS: Cushman & Wakefield senior director Brian Smith struck industrial land deals this week totaling more than 11 million square feet. He represented TA Associates, which bought two buildings — more than 112,000 square feet of industrial space — in the Hialeah area from AMG Properties for $6.2 million. Then, on behalf of Magic Investments LLC, he sold 10 acres next to a new Home Depot store in Hialeah Gardens at Northwest 138th Street and 112th Avenue to Preferred Freezer Services. "Hialeah Gardens is an up-and-coming market," he said. "Preferred is one of the biggest players" in the cold storage industry.

   OFFICE MARKET STRONG: High demand is supporting the growing inventory of office space in Miami-Dade County, according to CB Richard Ellis’ quarterly report. The total vacancy has declined 3.5 percentage points to 6.9% since the first quarter of 2006. In turn, rents have increased an average of $1.84 per square foot to $27.40 for full-service leases. CB Richard Ellis Managing Director Scott Sime said the Miami-Dade office market will soon hit rental rates "never before seen in our city." Details: www.cbre.com.

   COLOMBIA TRADE: To promote the US Free Trade Agreement with Colombia, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce will host a three-hour event April 24 examining business opportunities in Colombia. Carolina Barco Isakson, ambassador of Colombia to the US, will be featured speaker. The event begins at 10 a.m. at the chamber’s headquarters, 1601 Biscayne Blvd. Details: (305) 577-5471.

   CITY HOME LOANS: In light of a cooling residential real estate market, the Miami community development department is reopening its First-Time Homebuyer Program. Through the program, qualified low-income buyers can receive loans of up to $40,000 for any property priced at $236,000 or less. Applicants can visit the department’s office on the second floor of the Miami Riverside Center, 444 SW Second Ave. Details: www.miamigov.com/communitydevelopment/pages/housing.

   INDUSTRIAL OPPORTUNITY: Gratigny Park Industrial Center, 4251 NW 133rd St., is set for groundbreaking in the second quarter and for completion in early 2008. The two-building Class A industrial development will total 33,600 square feet. Warehouse condos will 1,400 square feet and more and will include office space. CB Richard Ellis will be sales agent. Details: (305) 779-3140 or www.cbre.com/gpic.

   MORE MET: Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. will pair with MDM Development Group to develop Metropolitan Miami’s Met 2 office and hotel towers. Groundbreaking took place recently for the 46-story office tower, which will feature 700,000 square feet of Class A office space. It is to be linked to a 42-story, 386-room luxury hotel. The $1 billion Metropolitan Miami project in downtown Miami also is to feature two residential buildings, Met 1 and Met 3, and an entertainment complex, Met Square. Details: (305) 960-9990 or www.metropolitanmiami.com.

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