Written by Miami Today on January 17, 2008
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STADIUM DEAL RETURNS: The Miami-Dade County commission is expected to vote on a $525 million Florida Marlins stadium Jan. 22. Commissioners were to take it up Jan. 10, but negotiations weren’t complete among the county, the Marlins and the City of Miami. Commission Chairman Bruno A. Barreiro told commissioners Jan. 10 that the matter would come directly to the full commission, bypassing the committee process, and that all commissioners would be briefed beforehand. He said he hoped the issue would "get resolved quickly." The county is putting $249 million into the project, Miami $121 million and the Marlins $155 million.
ANTI-AGREEMENT: Martin Margulies, art collector, developer and Overtown benefactor, says he is ready to jump in with car-magnate Norman Braman to fight Miami’s and Miami-Dade County’s recent plan for billions of dollars in public works projects. He said the plan indicates a "city gone wild with monumental projects that taxpayers can’t afford." Because the plan is backed directly and indirectly by redevelopment dollars, it’s "like a reverse Robin Hood," Mr. Margulies said. "They rob from the poor and give to the rich." Though the agreement calls for a boost to Overtown, that isn’t likely to come immediately. "They’re promising the Overtown community more money to revitalize it 10 years from now," he said. "By then, the Overtown community will be completely deleted."
MARKET CONCERNS: Though Miami-Dade County commissioners voted unanimously to overturn a planned Overtown housing development by taking the land back from the City of Miami, some had concerns that, in today’s flailing market, now is not the time to begin planning new projects. "Maybe things aren’t going to happen there for a long time," Commissioner Carlos Gimenez said. Developer Crosswinds’ planned and city-approved project is "something that’s set to go versus something that could be in the future." Agreed Chairman Bruno Barreiro: "It is extremely difficult to put housing in place" now. But Commissioner Katy Sorenson said that "if Crosswinds wants to do it, there must be somebody else that wants to do it, too."
VOTING STARTS MONDAY: Early voting in the Jan. 29 election begins Monday and continues to Jan. 27. County voters can cast ballots in a host of areas. For locations, call (305) 499-8683 or visit www.miamidade.gov/elections. To vote, residents must show a photo ID, such as a driver’s license or other forms of ID outlined on the Elections Department Web site.
NEW HYBRID BUSES: The US Department of Transportation has awarded Miami-Dade County $62.9 million toward the 95Express project to buy 16 low-emission, 60-foot hybrid buses for Miami-Dade County Transit, according to the agency. The buses are to run non-stop on I-95 from downtown Miami to Fort Lauderdale, using express lanes that replace current HOV lane between I-395 and I-595. The southern portion of the project north to Golden Glades is expected to open this summer, the agency said.
BOND INTEREST: Miami-Dade Manager George Burgess has been directed to come up with a process to allocate interest earnings from the $2.9 billion General Obligation Bond program. County commissioners Jan. 10 voted to direct him to detail the process. Some commissioners were disturbed last month when they learned the program had earned $20 million interest and there wasn’t a process to alert them and allocate funds. The controversy occurred before commissioners approved $10 million of the interest to Florida International University’s fledging medical school.
SITE SECURITY: As negotiations continue to secure a new Florida Marlins stadium for the Orange Bowl site, Miami City Manager Pete Hernandez says the city will not need to use eminent domain in the surrounding area to develop the land with a potential soccer stadium, retail and parking. "We don’t need anything at this point to be able to develop the site," he said. Also, "we’re down to 6,000" parking spots, he said, in a pending agreement with the county that once asked for 12,000 spaces from the city. City commissioners voted last week to extend a contract with consultant Jones Lang LaSalle to help with planning and financial analysis associated with developing the site.
BOOMING BUSINESS: The Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County’s economic development arm, announced this week four additions to the business community. FreeVia Networks, a marketing company that relocated from New York, has opened an office in Miami Beach to service the Latin American market. It’s to invest $1.5 million in the county and create five high-paying jobs within three years. Grass Roots Performance Measurement, a performance improvement company from the United Kingdom, opened its first performance-measurement office serving the US market in Miami. The 4,000-square-foot office is to create 12 jobs within three years. Spain-based Moleiro Books has opened in 400 square feet in Coral Gables to serve the US market. It’s to bring $50,000 in capital investment and create four jobs over three years. The Montoya | Lopez P.L. law firm has opened in Miami in affiliation with Spanish firm Bartolome & Briones. The office serving US and Latin American clients is to invest $1 million in Miami-Dade and create 10 jobs within three years.
INSPECTOR TRACKER: The City of Miami Building and Information Technology departments have created an online service allowing residents to get information about inspection dates, building inspectors’ routes — including daily progress and approximate arrival time — and inspection results. Visit http://www.miamigov.com/building/pages/ and click on the "Daily Inspections Route’ tab on the left. Those without Internet access may obtain the information by contacting the Neighborhood Enhancement Team at (305) 960-4NET or the Building Department at (305) 416-1100.
RUVIN APPOINTED TO PANEL: Miami-Dade County Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin has been appointed to the Florida Energy Commission, where he will use his knowledge on natural resource conservation and technology policy, among other things, to help the state address its long-term energy needs. He currently chairs the county’s Climate Change Advisory Task Force. Mr. Ruvin was appointed to the state panel by Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, a West Miami Republican. Mr. Ruvin was a county commissioner from 1972-1992 and has been clerk since 1992. The nine-member Florida commission looks into various energy options available — such as renewable energy sources and conservation — and sets goals for the state.
FAREWELL TO ARSHT: TotalBank will present a tribute tonight to retiring chairman Adrienne Arsht that will include naming her chairman emerita. Ms. Arsht ended her 10-year leadership of the bank after Banco Popular acquired it in November. Bank President William Heffernan and the board of directors will host the tribute at the Biltmore Hotel. The celebration will also serve to introduce Banco Popular’s Jorge Rossell as new TotalBank chairman. TotalBank, founded in 1976 and now operating 14 locations in the Miami area, will continue to operate under its name. Ms. Arsht, meanwhile, "will dedicate herself to the arts," spokeswoman Lidia Amorett said.
SMALL CLAIMS CLINICS: The Miami-Dade County Consumer Services Department is to hold 16 small claims court clinics this year, starting Jan. 23 at the McDonald Center, 17051 NE 19th Ave., North Miami Beach. The clinics guide residents through the small claims process, where matters involving $5,000 or less are resolved.