Written by Miami Today on April 26, 2007
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INSPECTOR (IN)DEPENDENCE: In an e-mail to Miami-Dade County School Board members, Robert Emmons, who last week withdrew his candidacy for the district’s inspector general position, said he declined the job offer because "I believe the existing board rules for the Office of Inspector General adversely impact on independence envisioned under the inspector general concept. I cannot accept the position because I believe the board rules are inconsistent with my interpretation of independence standards."
TWO OF A KIND: Miami isn’t the only city boasting a mysterious circle. A circular formation 150 feet in diameter was discovered between Muncie and Yorktown, IN. Archaeologists believe it was an enclosure built by prehistoric Indians. The Indiana Department of Transportation is working to expand an adjacent highway without disturbing the site, which is privately owned. Miami’s circle in Brickell, believed to be an ancient Tequesta site that’s now state-owned, is likely to end up under the management of the Historical Museum of Southern Florida.
ONE STEP CLOSER: The Miami Science Museum has narrowed to five firms its hunt for an architect for a $275 million, 200,000-square-foot museum to rise in Miami’s Museum Park. Museum officials aim to build green. In the running are Grimshaw Architects, Polshek Partnership Architects, Steven Holl Architects, Wilkinson Eyre Architects and Zaha Hadid Architects. The selection committee is to choose a firm May 1-2.
NEW DIRECTION: Graylyn Swilley is the director of the Visitor Industry Council, having replaced Elizabeth Williams, now director of the Black Archives. Ms. Swilley was a grant administrator and business developer for non-profits in Cincinnati before moving to Miami to join the council, which helps minorities advance in the hospitality industry.
TURNING GREEN: Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff plans to call for a fund for open green space at today’s (4/26) commission meeting. He also plans to discuss the progress, timeline, division of labor and financial responsibility of a proposed park at 1001 Brickell Bay Dr.
BENEFICIAL BARGAINING: Miami commissioners are to be asked at today’s (4/26) commission meeting to ratify a labor agreement between the city and the Miami Fraternal Order of Police. City administrators have been working for more than two years to reach agreements with employee unions, approving the first, with its general employees union, last month. "We’re both looking for a solution that will maintain their benefits but at the same time be affordable for the city, a reasonable solution that has sustainability," said City Manager Pete Hernandez.
ROLLING ON THE RIVER: At its planning and zoning meeting today (4/26), the Miami City Commission is to see several resolutions that would start the ball rolling on the River’s Edge project, proposed as a 221-foot-high mixed-use complex of 300 residential units, 11,000 square feet of retail and 8,000 square feet of restaurants. Should it receive city clearance, the project would rise at 201, 216-20, 243 and 250 NW South River Dr. and 601, 609, 615 and 619 NW Second St. in Miami.
SHOWDOWN: The Miami City Commission will be asked today (4/26) to give an initial go-ahead to change development standards in the area surrounding the Metrorail station in Coconut Grove at 27th Avenue. Some Grove residents and the Coral Gables City Commission oppose the proposed size limits.
KEY TO CONTRACTS: The Miami-Dade County Department of Business Development will host its sixth annual Community Small Business Enterprise Conference 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Friday at the Hyatt Regency Miami, 400 SE Second Ave. The conference is designed to educate construction contractors, architects, engineers, goods and service providers and small-business owners interested in doing business with the county. R. Donahue Peebles, chairman and CEO of The Peebles Corp., will be a keynote speaker and hold a book signing for his newly released book, "The Peebles Principles."
TOUTING TECHNOLOGY: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Technology Committee has announced finalists for the inaugural Technology Leader of the Year Award: Tery Howard, information technology senior director, Miami Dolphins and Dolphins Stadium; Alvaro J. Prieto, vice president of information technology, Auxis Management & Technology Solutions; M. Lewis Temares, vice president of information technology and CIO, University of Miami; and Marvin Wheeler, chief operations officer, Terremark Worldwide. The award will be presented at noon May 2 at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. Reservations: (305) 577-5441 or email@example.com.
THINKING CAP: Florida International University’s College of Business Administration launched its branding campaign this month. The campaign, "Are You an Uncommon Thinker?" is designed to increase enrollment in business programs. It is to run through mid-June. Details: www.uncommonthinkers.com.
MAGIC CITY: Foreign Direct Investment magazine named Miami 10th of 108 in its list of North American Cities of the Future in its April/May issue.
FLAGLER PLAZA SOLD: Principal Global Investors on Tuesday sold Flagler Park Plaza, a 350,000-square-foot shopping center anchored by a Publix supermarket, for $95 million to KIMCO Realty Corp. The center, 8309 W. Flagler St., includes as tenants Office Depot, Walgreen’s and Linens N’ Things. South Florida commercial broker Terranova Corp. represented the seller.
COUNTY DELAYS VOTE: Miami-Dade commissioners delayed voting Tuesday on an ordinance that would give the mayor instead of the county manager authority to sponsor and recommend items to the county commission. Vice chairwoman Barbara Jordan, who co-sponsored the measure, asked county attorney Murray Greenberg to draft a substitute ordinance for the next meeting to clarify exactly what items the mayor would be able to propose and who would step in if the mayor were absent. The ordinance passed through the Government Operations and Environment Committee without a recommendation last month.
CONDO PRICES MISLEADING? Miami-Dade condo buyers shouldn’t overreact to the Florida Realtors Association’s report Tuesday that condo resales fell 45% in March from a year earlier while average prices jumped 18%, observers say. Only 624 condos were resold in the county last month, down from 1,135 last year, with the average price rising from $249,200 to $295,100, the association reported. However, comparing last month’s numbers to March 2006’s to gauge the market is akin to "comparing apples and oranges," said analyst Michael Cannon. "It is not the same product type. Prices have been flat over the past year. … Now expectations are rolling back" to pre-2001 levels.
NEW DEAN: University of Miami officials this week promoted business-management professor Terri Scandura to dean of the university’s graduate school. The 17-year faculty member will oversee 5,000 students in more than 150 graduate programs. She is a three-time recipient of the School Of Business Excellence in Research Award. Details: www.miami.edu.
TALKING GREEN: Green building will be the focus of a Miami Beach Community Development forum at 8:30 a.m. May 7 at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. Architectural firm Perkins + Will is to lead a presentation at the forum about applying green building practices to residential affordable and workforce housing. The garden is at 2000 Convention Center Dr. Details: (305) 538-0090, ext. 227.
MET 2 LANDS RESTAURANT: Metropolitan Miami developer MDM Development Group is leasing restaurant space in the complex’s Met 2 tower to French chef Daniel Boulud to open a version of his New York restaurant DB Bistro in 2009. The downtown eatery is to cater to business and Carnival Center for the Performing Arts patrons, Mr. Boulud said. A joint venture between MDM and MetLife, the 47-story Met 2 is to feature more than 750,000 square feet of Class A office space, ground-level retail and a 1,400-space parking garage. Details: www.metropolitanmiami.com.
BANKER VISITS: Miami commercial bank IFB last week hosted the principal shareholder of the bank’s owner, Grupo IF of Spain, at IFB’s 801 Brickell Ave. executive office. Guillermo Fierro traveled to Miami from Madrid with several of the bank’s top executives. IFB has three branches in Miami-Dade offering personal, investment and international banking services.
LEISURE JOBS SOAR: Employment in leisure and hospitality industries is climbing off the charts in Miami-Dade County, paralleling a statewide record high. Last month, 104,100 worked in that sector in Miami-Dade, surpassing the previous record of 103,500 in December, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Statewide, the 921,100 at work in leisure and hospitality areas far eclipsed the prior high of 914,600, also recorded in December.
SALES MAGIC: The first residential tower of Little Havana mixed-use development Morrison is sold out, project officials say. The partnership between Miami developer mFm Construction Corp. and the Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund sold the 200-unit Tower One in five months and is to launch sales for the 195-unit Tower Two. Morrison, at Southwest Flagler Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues, includes more than 30,000 square feet of retail, 34,000 square feet of professional office space and 667 parking spaces. Prices of residences range from the low $200,000s to $380,000. Details: www.morrisoncondos.com.
COMPETITIVE SPIRIT: Aventura officials got the go-ahead from Miami-Dade commissioners Tuesday to build a 300-seat performing-arts center with money from the Building Better Communities Bond. The city plans to build the center next to the rebuilt Aventura Branch Library demolished by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Aventura is to use its own procurement procedures for the project. County Commissioner Barbara Jordan said she is concerned that the Aventura center and a county-built one in southern Miami-Dade will draw audiences away from the struggling Carnival Center for the Performing Arts. "There seems to be a proliferation of performing-arts centers moving forward," she said, noting that the commission is demanding better ticket sales out of the Carnival Center while supporting competing venues. "We keep giving them more and more competition."
HOLD THAT FREEZE: Miami-Dade commissioners Tuesday delayed a freeze on county hiring, deciding they first wanted to see what the Legislature will do about property tax relief in the final days of the session. Commissioners expect the county to lose about $150 million regardless of the specific relief state lawmakers settle on. The proposal they seem to fear most is House Speaker Marco Rubio’s bid to replace residential property taxes with sales taxes. Commissioners plan to consider a resolution May 8. It calls for the mayor to appoint a committee of county administrators to enforce a hiring freeze and to recommend exceptions subject to the mayor’s approval.
TO BRAND OR NOT TO BRAND: The board of Miami’s Downtown Development Authority voted last week to negotiate with marketing firm Republica for "identity development" and other services. The organization also voted to prequalify Gordon Reyes & Co. and The Apple Organization for public-relations services not related to branding.
CORRECTION: An April 19 article should have reported that Fortune International Realty’s purchase of the Grand Bay Club was limited to the clubhouse and two acres that contain it.