Written by Miami Today on August 16, 2007
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SOUTHCOM HQ BIDS: The Army Corps of Engineers last week requested qualifications for contractors seeking to design and build a US Southern Command 709,000-square-foot headquarters next to the existing one at 3511 NW 91st Ave. in Doral. SouthCom Senior Master Sgt. Ray Sarracino said bid submissions are expected next month and Pentagon officials will narrow the list shortly thereafter. The House Armed Services Committee rejected a proposal last year to lease the new headquarters and 40 acres from the state, opting to have the Pentagon own the building and lease the land.
GOING IT ALONE: Officials of a partnership that bid last year to build a US Southern Command headquarters next to the existing one reapplied last week without group anchor Flagler Development Co. The architect, engineer and systems integration contractor from Flagler’s original bidding group formed a new partnership without the developer, said Augustin Barrera, managing principal in the Miami office of Leo Daly Architects, which designed the Flagler group’s proposal last year. Because the current proposal calls for the Department of Defense to own the headquarters, Mr. Barrera said, a developer’s role would be minimal. Flagler built the existing 142,000-square-foot headquarters in 1997.
APOLOGY NOT ACCEPTED: William Thompson, executive vice president of the Related Group, last week wrote to the Vizcayans apologizing for a letter he wrote last month discouraging the group from suing Related and the City of Miami for approving a condominium project set to rise on Mercy Hospital grounds. "The intended purpose of that letter was to inform you of the situation," he wrote. "The letter was not intended to be insulting or derogatory." Still, John Hinson, a member of the Vizcayans’ board of directors and executive committee and the co-chairman of its Special Preservation Committee, established to crusade against the condos that some say would obstruct the museum and gardens’ view, maintains the first letter "was a shameless attempt to intimidate the members of The Vizcayans." After receiving the first letter, the Vizcayan board voted to affirm its previous directive to the committee to appeal the city’s project approval.
ARTS ADVISER: Concert Association of South Florida founding artistic director Judy Drucker will begin a post as senior artistic adviser for Florida Grand Opera on Sept. 1. She’s to create a new performance series featuring singers in concert with the Florida Classical Orchestra, which is slated to perform during the 2008-09 season. The Concert Association board recently ousted Ms. Drucker from running that organization, which she founded 40 years ago. Both organizations are resident companies of the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts.
I-95 PARTNERSHIP: Miami-Dade is now an Urban Partner of the US Department of Transportation, which is giving the county $62.9 million to help pay for new toll lanes on I-95. The grant will help fund a $248 million conversion of the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes from Miami-Dade to Broward County to electronic toll lanes that will charge drivers higher rates during rush hours. Plans call for the toll lanes to open in phases, said Alice Bravo, Florida Department of Transportation director of transportation development. The northbound stretch between State Road 112 and the Golden Glades interchange in northern Miami-Dade is due for completion in February and the southbound lanes from Golden Glades to I-395 are to follow in December 2008.
NEW LOOK: Residents will get a chance to brainstorm for a new logo for the City of North Miami at a Community Branding Workshop from 6:30-8 tonight (8/16) at Gwen Margolis Community Center, 1590 NE 123rd St. Details: (305) 895-9891.
CHAMBER HOSTS SINK: State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink is to speak in downtown Miami at a Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce luncheon at noon Friday inside the chamber’s headquarters, 1601 Biscayne Blvd. Members can attend for $55; others pay $65. Details: www.miamichamber.com
COMING ALONG: Plans for a new courthouse center garage are to go before Miami’s Planning Advisory Board in September, with demolition of the existing garage, 40 NW 3rd St. downtown, scheduled Nov. 1, officials said at a Miami Parking Authority board meeting last week. The new facility would have 852 spaces, 4,043 square feet of retail and 40,878 square feet of office space, according to City of Miami records.
HIGH HOPES: The Miami Parking Authority has trimmed its operating budget for the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, which it operates, by $514,285 from last fiscal year to accommodate cuts as a result of property tax relief measures — but some board members said this isn’t the time to underestimate the theater. Board member Stephen Nostrand called the $1,148,169 budget "too conservative," saying the authority shouldn’t give the appearance of "sitting back on our laurels" when it should be actively promoting the theater. Authority staff said they would continue to actively pursue grants to increase revenue and would revise the revenue forecast.
GUSMAN GOINGS ON: Restoration of the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St., is coming along well, said its director, Margaret Lake. The aisles of the balconies have been widened, old carpeting has been removed, and new seats and carpet are on the way. Crews, she said, are also working to replace the front doors.
ARTFUL PROMOTION: The Gusman Center for the Performing Arts has created a new promotional brochure and DVD, Ms. Lake said. Susan Atwater of Atwater Creative, which promotes the theater on behalf of the Miami Parking Authority, called it "an attract piece" with many pictures and ideas for events that could be held at the theater. The brochure directs the reader to the center’s Web site, www.gusmancenter.org, for technical specs and other information.
GERMAN CONSUL: Klaus Ranner has replaced Eva Alexandra Countess Kendeffy as German consul general in Miami. Ms. Kendeffy is returning to Berlin after more than three years here. Mr. Ranner comes from a three-year posting as director of the external business promotion task force within the foreign office in Berlin. This is his first appointment in the US. "So far I like it very much, and I like it even more the longer I am here," he said. Mr. Ranner said he looks forward to encouraging continued cultural and business contact between South Florida and Germany.
PROPERTY TAX REFORM 101: The Human Services Coalition, a civic group, is offering free seminars on property tax changes from 3-6 p.m. Aug. 23 at Peace Education Foundation, 1900 Biscayne Blvd. Topics include how the changes will affect county homeowners. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez is to outline the county budgeting process and what cuts are expected to social services programs and community-based organizations. Policy director for the Human Services Coalition in Miami Abigail Vladeck will be the host speaker. Details: (305) 576-5001, Ext. 43.
FLY BUY: Budget-fare Allegiant Airlines announced three nonstop services from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport last week. Flights to Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown, PA, will begin Nov. 14. Service to Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport will begin Dec. 13, and service to Chicago Rockford International Airport begins Dec. 14. Allegiant’s one-way fares begin at $59. Nine more destinations are to be announced before year’s end.
HOMELESS HELP: Miami’s Homeless Assistance Program has since April placed 103 homeless people in appropriate facilities after finding them in Miami Parking Authority off-street parking facilities, according to a report provided by the program to the authority board. The program is also working on a campaign to discourage parking lot and garage users from donating to panhandlers, as panhandling only enables homelessness, program officials said.
SOBE CONDOS SELLING: Morgans Hotel Group is beginning to close on condominium-hotel units at Mondrian South Beach, which is 75% sold, officials say. Prices for the 342 residences range from $400,000 for studios to $6 million for private penthouses. The complex at 1100 West Ave. includes a pool, outdoor bar and marina. Details: www.mondriansouthbeach.com
HONG KONG EXPO: Small and mid-size enterprises are invited to attend the World SME Expo in Hong Kong, hosted by the Association of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce in Florida. The Dec. 10-15 event, supported by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, enables providers to showcase services and business solutions internationally. More than 30,000 companies are expected to attend the networking, business matching, information and creative exchange. Main industries of interest include food and beverage, trade and business services, professional and financial services, manufactured products and real estate. The five-day Expo costs $1,690, with a $50 registration fee. Details: (305) 365-7247.
EAGLE IS LANDING: American Eagle, American Airlines’ regional affiliate, is to begin two daily round trip nonstop flights between Miami International Airport and Sarasota Bradenton International Airport on Dec. 13.
FESTIVAL SEEKS ARTISTS: The Coconut Grove Arts Festival is accepting applications from artists to participate in its 45th edition Feb. 16-18, 2008. The festival, presented by BlueCross BlueShield, will feature works in clay, watercolor, sculpture, painting, photography, jewelry and metalwork, fiber, mixed media, printmaking and drawing, glass and wood. In past years more than 150,000 people have descended on the streets of Coconut Grove to view art and the artists, sample cuisines, and enjoy music and dance entertainment produced by the non-profit Coconut Grove Art and Historical Association. Artists must apply online with a $45 application fee by Sept. 1. Details: www.coconutgroveartsfest.com
TWO’S COMPANY: Two In A Room Communications is Miami’s newest boutique-marketing agency. The bilingual agency specializes in lifestyle and luxury resort brands and properties, boutique hotels, destination spas, retails centers and the travel industry. A team of three marketers offer services including brand audits, research, creative services, brand touch-point development, tradeshow marketing and marketing consulting. "We are more than just an advertising agency, we are "brand architects,’" said Richard Flores, president of the agency and former director of marketing for Sol Meliá Hotels and Resorts. Two in a Room is at 9801 SW 92nd Ave., Suite A316. Details: (305) 439-6650.