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Front Page » FYI Miami » Fyi Miami

Fyi Miami

Written by on April 19, 2007


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

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

   TOP THIS: Singing groups the Four Tops and the Temptations, actress-singer Patti Lupone and the musical production of "Messiah" will be highlights of the second season of the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts. Also, the Classical Theatre of Harlem will return with "Romeo and Juliet." The season also will feature contemporary dance performances such as Deborah Colker’s Brazilian dance company. "It’s a great season," said Nancy Cooper, chief marketing officer for Carnival Center. She said contracts for other performances are waiting to be signed. The center’s second season will be christened Carnival Center Presents.

   BUY EARLY AND OFTEN: The Carnival Center for the Performing Arts presents more ticket incentives the second time around. Early ticket buyers can get discounts up to 20%, better seats and free parking. Tickets for all shows at the Studio Theater are $25.

   MARKETING MAKEOVER: Marketing of the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts is getting a second-season facelift, said Nancy Cooper, the center’s chief marketing officer. The total marketing budget for second-season shows, Oct. 4-May 31, is $400,000. In the first season, the center announced one show per advertisement, which "gets more expensive," Ms. Cooper said. This time around, it will promote multiple shows in one advertisement. "Once people begin to believe in the center, it’s going to be easier on the marketing side." Details:

   ENVIRONMENTAL ELITE: With Earth Day just around the corner, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz’ Green Initiative got a mention in the April 16 issue of Newsweek in a story detailing "America’s Greenest Mayors." The article says Miami is engineered for motorists but Mr. Diaz wants to put pedestrians into the picture with important first steps of widening sidewalks and adding shade trees and parks. The article reported that he seems committed to a broad range of shorter-term changes, too, including cleaning up city waterways and building green buildings. "We’re on the front line of global climate change here," the mayor says. "The water level doesn’t have to rise too much for us to be riding around Miami in canoes," he tells Newsweek. Not mentioned in the article is the Miami-Dade County Commission’s establishment of a climate-change committee headed by Harvey Ruvin, clerk of the courts.

   GREEN GO-AHEAD: Miami city commissioners unanimously approved 11 green initiatives proposed by Mayor Manny Diaz last week. Among plans: establishment of an office of sustainable initiatives within a month; purchase or lease of energy-efficient vehicles to establish a green fleet; streamlined processes for review and approval of permits for green buildings; and establishment of a green procurement program.

   GETTING NOTICED: Going green landed the planned 1.5 million-square-foot Brickell Financial Centre a lengthy story in Newsweek’s Feb. 25 edition. The story detailed the many environmentally sustainable aspects of the mixed-use complex that is to occupy a block between Southwest Sixth and Seventh streets on the west side of Brickell Avenue. Foram Developers planned the project under criteria developed by the US Green Building Council.

   LEAD ROLE: Miami real estate developer Armando M. Codina has been tapped as lead director on the board of AMR Corp., parent company of American Airlines. Mr. Codina, first elected as an AMR director in 1995, will replace Edward A. Brennan, who is retiring after 20 years on the board. Mr. Codina, 60, has been president and CEO of Flagler Development Group since 2006. He was chairman and CEO of Coral Gables-based Codina Group until its merger with Flagler Development last year. He also is a director of General Motors Corp., Merrill Lynch & Co. and Florida East Coast Industries, parent company of Flagler Development Group.

   NO IFS ANDS OR BUTS: There will be no waiting for the smoke to clear when the new Homestead Hospital opens May 6. The hospital will be Baptist Health South Florida’s first completely tobacco-free campus, indoors and out. Baptist officials say they’ll do all they can to help patients overcome difficulties related to not using tobacco. The gift shop will be stocked with nicotine-replacement products for visitors who need help. After hours, the products will be available for visitors in the Emergency Center. Meanwhile, Baptist officials say they have yet to decide what will be done with the decades-old 120-bed Homestead Hospital at 160 NW 13th St.

   AIRPORT BANKING: Bank of America and Communitel Inc. won the endorsement Thursday of the Miami-Dade County Commission’s Airport & Tourism Committee to continue offering banking and ATM services at Miami International Airport. Bank of America’s contract is for full banking services and ATM services. Communitel’s contract is for ATM machines only. Aviation officials say the banking services contract earns the airport about $300,000 a year and the ATM contract about $5,000. The contracts are scheduled to go to the full commission May 8 for final approval. Bank of America will have five locations and five additional during the course of an eight-year agreement. The additional locations will be available after construction is completed on South Terminal this year and North Terminal by 2011, airport officials say.

   PHONE-CARD FRUSTRATIONS: While Communitel’s existing ATM machines receive little to no complaints, its phone-card machines are a frequent source of grief for airport officials. Customer complaints are down, going from 225 in 2005 to 65 last year. But aviation director José Abreu has yet to become a fan of the machines that dispense prepaid phone cards. He told the Airport & Tourism Committee last week that he’d like to rip them out "and throw them in the river."

   MOVE OVER, ROCKEFELLER: A photo caption writer for Newsweek was overcome with enthusiasm in describing the Brickell Centre’s 30,000-square-foot plaza. "Eat your heart out Rockefeller," the caption declared.

   EARTH DAY LINK: With Earth Day arriving Sunday, Foram Developers is to observe the occasion by breaking ground on the Brickell Financial Centre at 5 p.m. today (4/19) at 600 Brickell Ave. Foram recently demolished buildings on the site in preparation for the two-tower project. One will total 40 stories and provide 602,000 square feet of rentable Class A office space. The $245 million office tower is scheduled for a fall 2009 completion. The second tower will rise 68 stories and have 463,483 square feet of Class A office space, 3,917 square feet of ground-level retail, a 360-room hotel and 134 luxury condominiums.

   NEW BRICKELL OFFICES: Miami developer Rilea Group broke ground last week on 1450 Brickell, the first purely office building under construction on Brickell Avenue since 1111 Brickell in 2001. The 35-story tower, to rise at Brickell Avenue and Broadway, formerly Southwest 15th Road, is to contain 585,000 square feet of Class A space. John Marshall, senior broker for Cushman & Wakefield, and Maggie Kurtz will handle leasing. The team is negotiating with potential users for 75% of the space, Mr. Marshall said Monday.

   SOBE HOTEL AUCTION: The US Bankruptcy Court is to auction the assets of 70-year-old St. Augustine Hotel at 10 a.m. May 18 at 51 SW First Ave. in Miami. The sale comes two months after condo-hotel company St. Augustine Hotel LLC, which bought the property for $4.4 million in late 2005, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The minimum bid is estimated at $5.2 million. The hotel is at 347 Washington Ave. in South Beach.

   PRESIDENTIAL PLAYER: President George W. Bush has appointed Tony Villamil, CEO of the Washington Economics Group, to his Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations. "It is important to assist the president and his US trade representative in this important juncture of our trade policy," Mr. Villamil said. With free-trade agreements pending with Colombia and Peru as well as other initiatives in the works, "now is the time to come to terms of what is needed to continue opening markets," Mr. Villamil said. "This position will allow me to be in the middle of discussions and support free trade, which is important to the state of Florida’s economic development."

   INSPECTORLESS: Robert Emmons, in line to become the Miami-Dade County School Board’s next inspector general, unexpectedly withdrew his candidacy this week after a workshop with the board, according to a memo from Chairman Agustin Barrera to board members. He was to replace Herbert Cousins, whose contract was not renewed last year. Mr. Cousins is suing the board on a defamation claim.

   FINISHED FEE? Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff wants to ensure that the city administration does not forget its promise to eliminate the city’s fire fee. Rather than taking it down next year to 25% of the original assessment, which would leave some residents paying up to $30 annually, he called for "a budget that does not include a fire fee" during Thursday’s commission meeting. "Why even have it at all?" he said. Negotiations are under way to reimburse illegally charged residents and to have unduly distributed funds returned.

   FLYING HIGH: The Greater Miami Aviation Association elected Marc Henderson, media-relations manager for the Miami-Dade County aviation department, as its president. He replaces Oscar Garcia. Mr. Henderson has been with the county’s aviation department for 16 years after serving as an associate press secretary to former President Jimmy Carter and working as a communications coordinator for former Gov. Bob Graham.

   HIRING FREEZE SOUGHT: A county hiring freeze is on the Miami-Dade County Commission agenda for Tuesday, sparked by state legislative plans that might shrink the county’s tax revenues markedly. No start date for the freeze is in the proposed legislation.

   GUATEMALA LINK: A Sister Cities agreement between the Department of Guatemala, a province of the Republic of Guatemala, and Miami-Dade County is up for a county commission vote Tuesday. Guatemala is the county’s eighth-largest foreign trade partner.

   OMNI BILLBOARDS: An ordinance that would clear the way for nine-story electronic billboards on the walls of a proposed big-box shopping mall directly across from the new Carnival Center for the Performing Arts on Biscayne Boulevard in the Omni area comes before the county commission Tuesday.

   CHANGE IN POWER: Miami-Dade commissioners are to vote Tuesday whether to allow the mayor but not the county manager to sponsor or present items to the commission. The manager has had that authority and not the mayor who was recently handed supremacy over the manager.

   SALARY TRANSPARENCY: Every new county employee’s name, application for a job or resume, photo and starting salary would be placed on Miami-Dade County’s Web site under a proposal by Commissioner Javier Souto that comes before the commission Tuesday. The site would also post the announcement or advertisement for the job.

   ECOLOGICAL ICONS: Miami Mayor Manny Diaz will host former Vice President Al Gore; Colombian president Alvaro Uribe; Gilbert Grosvenor, chairman of the National Geographic Society; Stephan Schmidheiny, honorary chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development; Andrew Ruben, vice president of Wal-Mart; and Elizabeth Lowery, vice president of General Motors, at the PODER New America Alliance Green Forum 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday at the Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium. Discussion will focus on climate change, cities, water and oceans. 

   COLLEGE CASH: Miami Dade College raised $1.1 million for student scholarships and educational support at its Alumni Hall of Fame Gala on April 12 at the Radisson Downtown Miami. The school collected $500,000 from ticket sales and sponsorships, and the state matched the amount. The event celebrated former students such as Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez, North Miami Police Chief Gwendolyn Boyd and Coral Gables Fire Rescue Chief Richard Cook.

   JUDO AT FIU: The nation’s top judo competitors will be on the Florida International University campus this weekend vying for a chance to represent the US in the Pan American Games and World Championship events. The Miami-Dade County Sports Commission helped secure the university’s Pharmed Arena as site of the US Judo Senior National Championships, which begin at 9 a.m. Friday. Several South Florida athletes will compete for spots on the national team, say sports commission officials, who have set a goal of bringing a Pan American Games to the county. Details:

   NEW BANK HIRE: A University of Miami graduate is president of Bank of America’s new department of private wealth management. Frances Aldrich Sevilla-Sacasa, former president of US Trust, assumes the post as Bank of America prepares to acquire US Trust Corp. and create the nation’s largest private bank by combining US Trust and the Private Bank of America. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter. The Federal Reserve approved the transaction in March. Details:

   MIAMI TOURISM UPDATE: Restaurant and event sales and tourism jobs inched up here in January, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau says. Restaurant tax revenue rose 1.6% to about $338 million from January 2006 while admission sales to area events rose 0.2% to more than $46 million. Tourism jobs in the county rose 0.2% to 100,700. The bureau releases updates monthly. Details:

   OFF TO ARGENTINA: Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau officials are sending a sales representative to Argentina this week to a two-day workshop to promote travel from the country’s secondary cities. The representative is to participate in three tourism events organized by the Rosario Travel Agent Association and the Santa Fe & Parana Travel Agent associations. About 300 travel professionals are expected to attend. Details:

   LICENSING SEMINAR: Spanish-speaking foreign professionals can learn how to obtain certifications and licenses to work in Florida at a seminar at 7 p.m. April 27 at Nova Southeastern University, 1750 NE 167th St. in North Miami Beach. The seminar will feature information such as required exams, application processes and regulatory contacts for those who were trained as accountants, mechanics, dentists, lawyers, nurses and other regulated professionals in foreign countries. Cost is $35, and registration will begin at 6:30 p.m. Details: (786) 553-4008 or

   CORRECTION: An item April 12 incorrectly identified Miami-Dade County Commissioner Joe Martinez as chairman of the commission. Bruno Barreiro is chairman.

   CORRECTION: An April 12 article should have stated that the Flamingo South Beach, 1500 Bay Rd. in Miami Beach, is undergoing a conversion from apartments to condominiums.

   CORRECTION: The firm designing the Virginia Key master plan, referred to in an April 6 article, is EDSA.


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