MIAMI 21 MEETINGS: The City of Miami is to hold public meetings this month on a proposed new zoning code and blueprint for growth, Miami 21, outside of the city's eastern quadrant. Commissioners required staff to hold the meetings to ensure that all residents are able to participate in shaping the plan. A schedule of the meetings, to occur through early September, is at www.miami21.org. The growth plan divides the city into quadrants. The eastern quadrant is under review.
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CARNIVAL COSTS: The Carnival Center for the Performing Arts has no plans to ask for money from Miami's community redevelopment agency, said President and CEO Michael Hardy, although Commissioner Tomás Regalado says Miami-Dade County may ask the agency to allocate 35% of its revenue to the arts center. The center has "no anticipation of asking the CRA for anything other than maintaining the super block," Mr. Hardy said, referring to the area around the center. The center owes the agency about $90,000 after damaging street pavers and other agency-funded amenities in setting up for its opening events last year, Mr. Regalado said.
PARKING LOT PLANS: Urban Development Group's proposed Jazz Village project was named the favorite of proposals for putting a development on the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency's parking lot at 345 NW 10th St. The agency board, made up of Miami commissioners, directed agency staff to negotiate a development agreement for the mixed-use project, which includes housing, retail and office space.
AFFORDABLE AND RELIABLE: Hector Mirabile, interim director of Miami's Community Development Department, said he plans to ensure that companies answering any city requests for proposals calling for affordable housing projects are qualified to build them. Commissioner Mark Sarnoff requested a policy allowing only those with a "proven track record of having done this before" to be contracted. Mr. Mirabile said the city should also consider start-up companies and entrepreneurs, but said he plans to be diligent in ensuring their legitimacy.
FILM FEES: Film industry players at a meeting last week indicated they'd be willing to pay permitting fees in exchange for services, said Jeff Peel, director of Miami-Dade County's Office of Film and Entertainment. He held the meeting — attended by about 75 people — to gauge the industry's response to proposed fees designed to compensate for impending budget cuts and staff losses. In the wake of the county's planned budget and staff cuts, Miami Beach's five-person film and events staff now plans to share one staffer with another department rather than lose the post altogether, said Graham Winick, city film and event production manager.
TAXIING TAX RATE: Commissioners last week capped Miami's tax rate at 7.92 mills. The city escaped a harder hit due to an error including it on a list of Florida cities exempt from deep cuts. Legislators have said they plan to fix the mistake next year. Until then, Miami could self-impose the cuts to provide tax breaks to residents, but there was no discussion of the issue at last week's commission meeting.
SIGNATURE SUCCESS: Miami commissioners approved last week what developer Tibor Hollo calls "Miami's signature building" — One Bayfront Plaza, a $1.8 billion, 70-story mixed-use tower with 2.13 million square feet of rentable office space, 112,000 square feet of retail space and 850 hotel rooms. Commissioner Marc Sarnoff called the project, 100 S. Biscayne Blvd., a "big, beautiful building certainly built in the right part of downtown." City staffers and planning advisory board members had asked Mr. Hollo to remove a proposed pedestrian bridge connecting the building to the nearby Metromover station, but commissioners voted to require he build it. They also required that he offer it as a venue for major functions, such as the mayor's state of the city address, for the next 10 years.
LOOPHOLE: Mr. Sarnoff voiced concern at a meeting last week over open building permits, asking city staff to close "a loophole where apparently if you move some dirt and have an inspection done" every so often, you can keep a permit on an unused building for years. Staffers are to report back in September.
REPOSTING: Marco Rocca, a consul general of Italy in Miami from 1992 to 1996, has returned to his former post after positions in Madrid, Panama and Rome. He is happy to be back in Miami, he said, but doesn't know how long he will stay. He said he will move back into the Coral Gables home he kept when he left town once renting tenants vacate. He replaces Gianfranco Colognato, who was transferred to the ministry in Rome. Mr. Colognato has not been assigned to a ministry office, Mr. Rocca said.
TIGHTENING TIES: Enterprise Florida, the state's public-private economic development partnership, has announced that Gov. Charlie Crist will lead a Team Florida Trade Mission to Sao Paulo Nov. 3-8. Brazil is Florida's top trading partner, with more than $11 billion in total trade last year and nearly $8 billion worth of goods shipped to Brazil. The mission will comprise a matchmaking session between local and Brazilian businesses as well as the Florida Exposition, a networking opportunity to expose products and services to the business community in Sao Paulo. The two participation packages range from $650 to $1,600. Details: (305) 808-3586.
GRAND GALA: Plans for the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts' first-anniversary gala Oct. 17 center on a performance by Juan Diego Flórez, a Peruvian tenor being touted as "the next Pavarotti," President and CEO Michael Hardy said at Tuesday's Performing Arts Center Trust board meeting. "Michael Kaiser, who visited us from the Kennedy Center, said he thinks he is the best young tenor singing today," Mr. Hardy said. PBS has expressed interest in taping the performance for its "Great Performances" series, but no plans are final. Sales for the 10-person tables have begun. Table prices of $12,500-$50,000 include dinner, the show and an after party.
YOUR 2 CENTS: Occupancy costs for the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts are on par with other South Florida arts centers, officials say. Occupancy costs run 2 cents per square foot per event day, the same rate as the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, Mr. Hardy said. The Kravis Center, however, held 604 events last year while the Carnival Center held 879, he said. "Our occupancy costs, although we mis-estimated them for the budget point of view, are not out of line with the size of the building and the level of utilization we have," he said. "We are not spending, apparently, more than we should be spending."
ART CALLS: The Carnival Center will launch a telemarketing campaign for Broadway subscriptions, pop programming, new memberships and membership renewals this month, Mr. Hardy said. All telemarketing will be in-house, he said, with cashiers and box-office staff working the call center.
BETS ARE ON: Aquasino, a three-deck, 228-foot gambling yacht, will begin sailing from South Beach's Pier A on Alton Road on Aug. 9. For $40, guests get a free cocktail and buffet and live entertainment. The yacht includes Las Vegas-style games, more than 200 slot machines and a room of 42-inch plasma televisions for high-stakes sports betting. Details: (305) 532-0021.
RETAIL BEST BUY: A Best Buy electronics store and Bank of America branch are coming to an 11.5-acre parcel at South Dixie Highway and Southwest 336th Street in Florida City. Interra Development Partners bought the property last month for $11 million from Strano Brothers Ltd. and plans to build a retail complex there, across the street from a Super Wal-Mart.
VILLA MAGNA OPUS: Florida East Coast Realty officials remain tight-lipped about the company's application to the City of Miami to replace about 175,000 square feet of condominium space with a hotel and commercial building in the $200 million Villa Magna complex on 2.5 acres at 1201 Brickell Bay Dr. The company is "looking at the market," said company co-manager Jerome Hollo. "We want to see what might be the right mix. We just want to make sure we have the right project. That's all I can say." A hotel was part of the original project design, but Chairman Tibor Hollo scrapped the idea.
HOT-FOOTING IT WEST: A prominent Florida shoe designer this week bought a 55,000-square-foot Class A warehouse distribution facility at the Flagler Station Business Park in northwest Miami-Dade. Donald J. Pliner of Florida Inc. — which designs shoes, handbags, leatherwear and accessories — acquired the building at 10800 NW 97th St. from Flagler Development Co. for an undisclosed amount. Mr. Pliner plans to turn the warehouse into a main distribution hub for the company, said Gordon Messinger, senior commercial associate for Terranova Corp., which represented him in the transaction.
REGALIA GETS PERMIT: Foundation permits are in place for Golden Beach condo tower Regalia. A consortium of developers identified as Regalia Holdings plan to break ground this fall on the 43-story tower at 19505 Collins Ave. Completion of the tower, which includes 40 single-floor residences, is scheduled for spring 2009. Details: www.regaliamiami.com.
GOVERNMENT GLOSSY: Miami City Manager Pete Hernandez' office this month published Miami City Hall Tribune, a glossy magazine with features ranging from messages from each commissioner to a report on affordable housing.
FALL LINEUP: The Carnival Center for the Performing Arts' fall highlights include Motown groups the Four Tops and the Temptations, Broadway performer Patti LuPone, Brazilian troupe the Deborah Colker Dance Company and Miami chamber choir Seraphic Fire. The fall season begins Oct. 4 with a Mad Science children's program and ends with holiday performances by jazzy vocal quartet Manhattan Transfer Dec. 20 and Seraphic Fire singing "The Messiah" Dec. 21.
AIRPORT WEST ACTIVITY: The Airport West industrial market got a boost last month from three leases totaling about 25,000 square feet. More than half the industrial space will be occupied by Allied Seafood Corp., which is leasing 14,000 square feet at Finger Lakes Industrial Park. The Skyway Center's newest tenant is Areas USA Corp., which is leasing 6,400 square feet at the complex. Automotive services company TVA Automotive Inc. is subleasing 4,368 square feet at the Beacon Centre. Commercial real estate firm CB Richard Ellis represented tenants in all three transactions and the landlord in the Beacon Centre deal.
HOMEWARD BOUND: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce's workforce housing committee wants to expand its Achieving Homeownership Initiative, a partnership with United Way and the Realtor Association of Miami and the Beaches. The initiative, launched in June, aims to boost homeownership for county workers via one- or two-hour seminars presented at businesses. The presentations by Realtors and bankers highlight specific steps to help employees buy homes, committee chair Michael Burnstine said. He said the program will most benefit the "many mom-and-pop entrepreneurial businesses in the county" that don't know how to aid employees in home buying. Firms interested in participating may contact the chamber at (305) 577-5464.
CORRECTION: A July 26 article misidentified former Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce New World Center committee chairman Bruce Colan.