Written by Miami Today on September 6, 2007
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BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD: After rejecting earlier bids for the proposed peoplemover system at Miami International Airport for cost or technical reasons, Miami-Dade commissioners Tuesday voted to begin "competitive negotiations" with three companies to try to find the best and most cost-effective system. The cost of the "MIA Mover" has probably exceeded its budgeted $221 million by $40 million or more in the wake of rising construction costs. The three companies being considered are Parsons Odebrecht Joint Venture, Bombardier-PCL and Slattery Skanska.
LIVE THERE LONGER: Members of Miami-Dade County’s community councils will have longer residency requirements under an ordinance that county commissioners approved Tuesday. The new ordinance adds a requirement that elected community council members reside in their council area for at least one year, on top of the current requirement of living for at least three months in a council sub-area they wish to represent. County commissioners themselves must reside for three years in the county and for six months in the district they serve.
APPOINTEES INCLUDED: Appointed community council members also will now have a one-year residency requirement in the district they serve. The ordinance strikes language that allows commissioners to appoint members from outside the district if "in the sole discretion of county commissioners" the appointee has "significant business or community interest in the area." Rebeca Sosa, who sponsored the ordinance, said she wants to ensure members have enough time to learn their neighbors’ issues and concerns.
PARCEL PROGRESS: City of Miami staff and representatives of Blue Capital last week had their first official meeting regarding sale of 1.43 acres of city-owned downtown land that houses the landmark Bank of America tower and a coveted parking garage. The city is offering Blue Capital first crack at the land because it owns the building but plans to also seek bids, said Lori Billberry, director of public facilities. "They (Blue Capital) are interested in proceeding with the negotiations," she said after the meeting. The Related Group, which recently contracted for more than 400 spaces in the garage to use as parking for its Loft 4 development, may also put in an offer on the land once it goes out to bid, said Oscar Rodriguez, the firm’s senior vice president of development, last month.
GOVERNOR APPOINTS EX-DOLPHIN: Former Miami Dolphins fullback Rob Konrad is a member of a new team — the Florida State Board of Administration’s Investment Advisory Council. Gov. Charlie Crist appointed Mr. Konrad, who is president and CEO of Allen Konrad Asset Management Corp., to the council last week for four years. The council oversees the board’s funds and major investments, which range from Florida Retirement Systems programs to the Lawton Chiles Endowment Fund.
BAY OF PIGS MUSEUM SITE? Miami-Dade commissioners Tuesday approved a feasibility study to locate a Bay of Pigs museum on 4.5 waterfront acres between AmericanAirlines Arena and Biscayne Bay. Many commissioners expressed more enthusiasm for the museum than the site, vacant more than a decade as ill-fated plans for the prized property came and went. "I don’t know if at the end of the day it will wind up there, but I support the idea of the museum," Dennis Moss said. Javier Souto, a veteran of the failed 1961 attempt to overthrow the Castro regime, recused himself from the vote.
KEEP IT GREEN: Environmental groups and other civic activists would just as soon see green space in the parcel being eyed for the museum, which also would chronicle the Cuban exile experience, fearing among other things that a garage would be included as part of the facility. A Bay of Pigs veterans’ group maintains a small museum in Little Havana and is seeking a new home for expansion. Commissioners would like a larger museum to turn up somewhere. Carlos Gimenez called the invasion a part of Miami-Dade and US history and Mr. Moss said it would be a strong tourist attraction.
HELPING PERU: Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez and members of the county commission, along with Goya Foods, Sedano’s Supermarkets and the consul general of Peru, received thousands of cans of food at Opa-locka Executive Airport to be delivered to victims of the Aug. 15 earthquake in Peru. The county’s Team Metro and several other community organizations coordinated the donations. More than 500 tons of clothing, non-perishable food, and water have been collected. The earthquake left more than 500 people dead, 1,500 injured and thousands more displaced.
BANKING SOIREE: Miami’s InterContinental hotel today (9/6) will host the Inter-American Development Bank’s event for government officials, business leaders and journalists to launch its 2008 annual meeting, which the city will host in April. Pop artist Romero Britto, who will serve as artistic director for the event, will unveil his theme and the logo he designed for the meetings. The 11 a.m. event is billed as an opportunity for government and business leaders to discuss development partnerships in Latin America and the Caribbean.
SOUND MOVE: Florida Grand Opera is moving scattered Miami-Dade offices and warehouses to Doral Center, 8390 NW 25th St., Doral, previously leased by TracFone Wireless Inc. The opera currently leases multiple sites, which will end soon. "It’s been really tough because we end up spending half of our life finding all this stuff," said Robert M. Heuer, general director and CEO. The headquarters "will bring everything together under one roof," he said. It has 50,000 square feet of offices, 20,000 square feet of storage for costumes and props. The opera is painting and decorating and plans to move in by month’s end. Its phone number, (305) 854-1643, and website, www.fgo.org, don’t change.
WAL-MART EXPANDS: Retail juggernaut Wal-Mart Stores Inc. last week bought an 87,005-square-foot retail center in Doral for $15.9 million from Iowa firm Principal Real Investors. The 8.94-acre Beacon Centre retail site at Northwest 87th Avenue and 12th Street includes tenants OfficeMax, Circuit City and 99 Cents Stuff. The site is part of a larger shopping center that includes a 130,000-square-foot Wal-Mart and 176,000-square-foot Sam’s Club warehouse, both of which are owned by Wal-Mart. The deal brings to Wal-Mart the entire center. Brokerage Cushman & Wakefield represented Principal Real Investors; Atlantic Commercial Group Inc. represented Wal-Mart.
ZONE FIELD NARROWS: The owner of the 8-acre Wynwood Foreign Trade Zone in Miami narrowed a pool of nine offers to buy the zone to a short list and hopes to choose a buyer for the vacant site "shortly," said Wayne Ramoski, senior director for Cushman & Wakefield, which is marketing the zone. He wouldn’t elaborate on which prospects made the cut or when owner Wynwood Community Economic Development Corp. will make a final decision. The zone — which includes three rundown industrial and office buildings totaling 166,000 square feet — attracted bids from potential buyers including private and public real estate trusts and local developers. It is licensed for duty-free trade with limited tariffs on imports and none on exports.
FORECLOSURES HIT HOME: The national rise in foreclosures is thumping Miami-Dade County’s residential market, according to an annual survey conducted by the Florida-based Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund. An online survey of 1,415 homeowners statewide found that 15% of Miami-Dade homeowners have either been in foreclosure or know somebody who has, and 66% of Miami-Dade homeowners would consider buying a foreclosed property. The Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund is a title insurance underwriter and information provider. Details: www.thefund.com.
CORRECTION: A previously published article headlined "Several mergers of area community banks pending" was mistakenly republished in the Aug. 30 issue.