Written by Miami Today on January 4, 2008
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ORANGE BOWL PARKING: Though a Dec. 18 version of Miami-Dade County’s Marlins baseball stadium draft agreement calls for the City of Miami "to identify at least 12,000 parking spaces within five-eights of one-mile from the baseball stadium and to construct, at its sole cost and expense, city parking on the entire site to house approximately 6,000 of those parking spaces," city Chief Financial Officer and acting City Manager Larry Spring said "We’ve only committed to 6,000 spots" thus far. "I don’t think it will be 12,000," he said. The agreement still needs to be ironed out and approved by both the city and county. The city plans to build a 6,000-car garage to serve the Orange Bowl site. It has not been determined who will glean the parking revenues, Mr. Spring said, though in the "first several years" the garage is to "serve to pay for itself."
LAWN TRADITION: Mr. Spring expects the long-standing tradition of using Orange Bowl neighborhood lawns to park for games to continue. "I absolutely do," he said. "It’s been a main staple for the neighborhood." Knowing this, "obviously it’s kept in mind when we look at the pricing we can charge" in the planned 6,000-spot garage, he said. Six-thousand spaces, he said, should serve the site sufficiently, though "people may opt" to park on lawns.
SAFE, PROBABLY: The city will probably not seize property surrounding the Orange Bowl site in order to develop it to include a baseball stadium, soccer stadium and parking garage, Mr. Spring said. When asked if eminent domain would be enacted, he said he "can’t answer that right now," but "I’m thinking no." The city doesn’t yet have a site plan, he said. An electrical building adjacent to the site "may have to be acquired," he said, but that could be it. When the issue of eminent domain involving the Orange Bowl came up at an October county commission meeting, county officials said no condemnation of private property would be necessary in order to build the stadium.
ROOM RATES UP: Daily room rates in the Miami area and the Beaches rose by 8.9% while occupancy rates inched up 1.1%, during the first 11 months of 2007, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. The daily room rates from January to November were $155.35, compared to $142.59 the same period in 2006. The Miami area and the Beaches were also ranked No.2 in the state in daily room rates. The Florida Keyes are No. 1 at $194.46. West Palm Beach came in at No.3 at $154.15; Fort Myers was fourth at $133.70; and Fort Lauderdale fifth at $127.91, according to the bureau.
OVERTOWN EARMARKS: To ensure accountability in Miami’s plan to send some funds back into Overtown after using millions of redevelopment agency dollars on big- ticket projects through a massive "global agreement," Commissioner Joe Sanchez proposed last week that the expected $237 million be earmarked for specific functions: 25% toward affordable and workforce housing; 25% toward infrastructure; 25% toward job creation and economic development; 10% toward parks; 5% toward arts and culture; 5% toward quality of life; and 5% toward the agency’s administrative costs. District Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones supported the plan, but Commissioner Tomás Regalado argued that "it’s wrong to make more promises we don’t know if we can fulfill."
MORE MONEY: In a letter distributed to Miami commissioners last week, Omni Community Redevelopment Agency staff noted that the city and Miami-Dade County’s "global agreement" requires the agency pay not only 35% of its revenue each year to the arts center beginning this year, but also to continue to pay $1.43 million annually as it does now. This means the agency is to dedicate about 43% of its revenue to the center in 2008, the letter says. "To me, it’s a staggering amount," Mr. Regalado said.
GLOBAL GO-AHEAD: After a massive "global agreement" appeared before the Miami City Commission last month as a vague discussion item and was passed as a resolution the same day, Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones balked two weeks later when asked to do the same as a Community Redevelopment Agency board member. The agreement must be approved by the agency board because redevelopment dollars are named as the source of funds for many of the projects planned in the agreement. "I’m a little disappointed at how quickly this meeting was set," she said last week. City CFO Larry Spring, acting as city manager while Pete Hernandez is out of the office, said "we would not be able to execute the port tunnel agreement" without the agency’s OK before Dec. 31. Commissioners as agency board members passed the agreement 3-1, with Tomás Regalado dissenting and Angel Gonzalez absent.
SEIJAS REAPPOINTED TO PANEL: Miami-Dade County Commissioner Natacha Seijas as been reappointed to a second two-year term as chairwoman of the Jay Malina International Trade Consortium. She was appointed by Commission Chairman Bruno Barreiro. Ms. Seijas has served on the 37-member panel since December 2005. The consortium, named after South Florida entrepreneur Jay Malina, coordinates and certifies incoming and outgoing trade missions. It also promotes Miami-Dade as a global gateway, among other things.
CENTER CRITIC: One of the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts’ biggest critics, Miami Commissioner Tomás Regalado, says he’s never been to the center. "It wouldn’t look right, something I have criticized, to me accepting tickets or going as a freebie there," he said. And "I just don’t want to pay that much because I’d rather use the money on other things. For me, it’s a Catch-22." He says he has a good grip on the center’s issues anyway, partly because of his job as a journalist. He cited oft-discussed problems such as parking. "I know what people tell me." Mr. Regalado has recently protested using Omni Community Redevelopment Agency dollars to pay off the center’s construction debts.
ART IN PUBLIC PLACES: The Coral Gables City Commission approved last month a new ordinance integrating public art into new development in the city. One-percent of the cost of municipal construction projects paid for by the city on city-owned land is to be placed in an historic public art fund to contribute to restoring, maintaining and acquiring historic public art to be prominently displayed and free to the public. For non-city construction or renovation above $1 million, excluding single-family homes, developers may petition to have the public art acquisition incorporated within their project, or to contribute 1% of the project value as the required art fee. If art is displayed as part of a project, developers must allow free, regular public access to the art, which must have a minimum appraised value of 1% of the construction costs.
ARCHITECT AWARD: Architects Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Andres Duany, partners in the Miami-based Duany Plater-Zyberk and Co., have been named the 2008 Driehaus Laureates by the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture. The Richard H. Driehaus Prize for Classical Architecture, founded in 2003, is awarded annually to an outstanding architect or firm whose work applies the principles of classicism, including sensitivity to history and the fostering of community. The firm is heading design of Miami 21, the city’s proposed zoning code and blueprint for growth.
JOB GROWTH: Comcast succeeded in creating 270 new jobs locally in introducing Comcast Digital Voice last year, a spokesman said. Additions came largely in the form of technicians and customer service representatives. "It’s (the service) essentially a voice product that runs on an Internet Protocol platform, and it runs on our network," said Tom Autry, Comcast’s general manager of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, upon the product’s launch last year. "It’s an advantage because we don’t have any issues you have over the public Internet. We’re managing traffic 24/7, and we control our own reliability."