Written by Miami Today on June 14, 2007
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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TUNNEL FUNDING: Miami commissioners are to see a resolution today (6/14) authorizing City Manager Pete Hernandez to execute an agreement among the city, Miami-Dade County and the Florida Department of Transportation committing the city’s promised $55 million share of the $1 billion port tunnel project — $5 million from Watson Island right-of-way and the other $50 million from "all legally available sources," the resolution says. It does not specify where. City staffers have cited community redevelopment funds, but some redevelopment agency board members, who are also commissioners, are strongly opposed.
MUSEUM PARK: Miami commissioners will be asked today (6/14) to contribute $2 million to the Miami Science Museum and $2 million to the Miami Art Museum in bond money to support construction of the museums’ proposed new facilities in Bicentennial Park. Some residents have opposed building museums in the park, saying it detracts from the city’s open spaces.
IN THE SUNSHINE: The Miami-Dade School Board has directed Superintendent Rudy Crew to look into posting an online checkbook register to allow taxpayers to view how money is spent, an initiative being used in Texas. He is to report findings in July. Board member Marta Pérez introduced the idea to increase "transparency and make it a lot easier for people to get public information," she said. The idea stems from "the fact that I’ve had to sue in order to get public information and I’ve had to go to the state attorney, and I’m a school board member," she said. "It’s going to make it a lot easier now to get things the public is entitled to."
MOVING ALONG: Mary Brickell Village is 75% leased, said General Manager Marcos Freire, and stores will continue to open throughout the summer. Grimpa Steakhouse, Roma Organic Gelato and Esslinger Wooten Maxwell Realtors are to open within three weeks, he said, and Esthetic Center, Rosa Mexicano, Blue Martini and FedEx Kinko’s within two months. "All of my other tenants are either finalizing their construction permits or initiating their construction," he said. Negotiations are under way with Publix for the 30,000-square-foot anchor site, according to Anne Hendricks, the grocer’s media and community-relations manager.
TAX TALK: Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff has asked the commission to discuss today (6/14) directing City Manager Pete Hernandez to review all department budgets to find ways to save in the face of impending statewide tax revenue cuts.
SOUTH DADE TOUR: To promote urban redevelopment along transit corridors in South Miami-Dade County, two economic development organizations are to host a daylong bus tour Friday of nine communities undergoing extensive growth. Planning professionals from several municipalities and officials of the Economic Development Council of South Miami-Dade Inc. and Vision 20/20 are to explain how area zoning changes helped encourage mixed-use town-center projects from Kendall Drive to Southwest 272nd Street. The tour begins at 8 a.m. at Chamber South, 6410 SW 80th St., South Miami. Details: (305) 378-9470.
LENDER’S MEETING: The state’s largest Small Business Administration lender is to hold its annual meeting at 2 p.m. Friday at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. Officials of Florida First Capital Finance Corp., the state’s largest non-profit certified development corporation, will discuss the use of SBA 504 loans throughout the state. The corporation has lent more than $184 million to local small businesses since opening a Miami-Dade office in 2003.
SAND DOLLARS: Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Bruno Barreiro traveled to Washington last week to lobby congressmen and administrators for permission to use sand from foreign countries to renourish county beaches. The feds permit that if no viable domestic sources of sand are available, which the county’s Department of Environmental Resource Management and the US Army Corps of Engineers say is the case. The county manages 13 miles of beachfront from Government Cut through Sunny Isles Beach. Mr. Barreiro said stretches of beach near 29th and 40th streets are in especially bad shape from erosion. U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the state’s two U.S. senators are backing the effort, Mr. Barreiro said. The foreign sand, by the way, likely would come from the Caribbean.
PROPERTY PROSPECTS: Once the City of Miami puts out to bid 1.43 acres of Knight Center land, which could happen by this summer, Blue Capital, which owns the landmark Bank of America tower that sits on the downtown property, may put in an offer. The parking garage under the tower is part of the land deal. "We are interested in buying the garage," said Danet Linares, vice president of leasing and marketing for Blue Capital Management. "It’s a natural — it would be better for the tenants."
HURRICANE HELP: Local construction and development companies are to have an opportunity to bring investments and business to New Orleans at the New Orleans Regional Business and Matchmaking Forum set for 11 a.m.-4 p.m. June 21 at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave. The event is to cover post-hurricane rebuilding plans, fiscal incentives, joint-venture partnerships and related topics. Former Coral Gables mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli and trade-center board member George Fowler III spearheaded the initiative, designed "to expose Miami entrepreneurs, Miami developers, builders, businessmen to the opportunities that exist in New Orleans," Mr. Valdes-Fauli said. "Put the demand together with the supply, and you’ve got a winner." Details: (305) 445-2930.
STADIUM SHARING: The Miami city commission is to see today (6/14) a resolution giving the go-ahead for Florida International University to play their football season in the Orange Bowl as construction begins on a new Golden Panthers stadium. If passed, FIU would pay $5,000 per event day.
SHIPPING SEMINAR: The Florida Foreign Trade Association School of Business is to host an import and export seminar 6-9 p.m. Monday and Wednesday (6/20) at the Miami Free Zone, 2305 NW 107th Ave. The seminar is to cover international terms of sale, buyer and seller responsibilities in foreign transactions, US government export controls and more. The cost is $195. Details: www.ffta.com.
PLANNING FOR A PLAN: The second public meeting and workshop for the Virginia Key master plan is to be 6-9 p.m. Wednesday (6/20) at La Salle High School, 3601 S. Miami Ave. The forum is intended to generate a list of improvements for the island. A final plan is to come before the city commission late July, designer Paul Kissinger said at the first hearing in March.
EMERGENCY BOSS: Doug Bass is on the job as director of emergency management and homeland security for Miami-Dade County. Mr. Bass, who began work Monday, comes from a five-year post as emergency-management director of Fairfax County, VA. Throughout his 20-year career in emergency management, he has responded to nine hurricanes, including Fran and Floyd in North Carolina. Mr. Bass was nominated by Mayor Carlos Alvarez and confirmed by the county commission last week.
EYE ON THE MEAN SEASON: Miami-Dade’s most vital concern certainly is hurricane season, Mr. Bass said. "Based on the prediction of the National Weather Service, we are preparing for an active hurricane season," he said. "I will ensure that the necessary plans are in place and that we are putting resources in place and have the right people in the right places in order to be prepared." He said he intends to take a cautious approach to changes in emergency operations. "This county has a good plan with a good reputation nationally," he said. Once he gets settled in, he said, he will "tweak things."