MARLINS STAND FIRM: Despite Miami Arena owner Glenn Straub saying he'd like baseball to come to his downtown land once the arena is demolished within weeks, the Florida Marlins remain firm on their commitment to the former Orange Bowl site in Little Havana. The team has not been contacted by Mr. Straub and the odds of moving to downtown fall somewhere between "zero and negative," said David Samson, Marlins president. "We are solely focused on the Orange Bowl," he said. "The site at Little Havana is the proper site for baseball." Just last year, the team said it wouldn't accept the Orange Bowl site and wanted previously discussed downtown land.
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BETTERING BISCAYNE: The Florida Department of Transportation began 10 months of work to improve Biscayne Boulevard between Southeast Second and Northeast Fifth streets this week. It's to widen the roadway slightly, repave and restripe it, replace curb ramps, upgrade traffic signs and signals, clean storm-water draining areas and more. Some traffic lanes and sidewalks are to be closed from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. every day, 9 p.m.-5:30 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m.-7 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Details: (305) 499-2410.
HIALEAH HOPEFUL: Halsey Minor, the entrepreneur and thoroughbred owner who's said he'd like to return horse racing to Hialeah Park, was to meet this week with preservationists, government officials and activists to discuss his interest in buying and renovating the park. Miami-Dade's historic preservation chief Kathleen Slesnick Kauffman, Coral Gables Mayor Don Slesnick and local historian Arva Moore Parks were expected among attendees. The 71-year-old Hialeah track last hosted races in 2001. It's in the National Historic Register.
RECORD DEVELOPMENT TAX: Miami-Dade collected a record Convention Development Tax of $2.9 million in June, up from $2.8 million in June 2007, a 4.8% increase. The revenue generated by hotel taxes such as the 3% Convention Development Tax is used in part to support and maintain public facilities such as existing convention centers, arenas and auditoriums, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
POLLS ARE OPEN: Voting in Miami-Dade's Aug. 26 primary election has begun. The county's elections department has mailed more than 80,000 absentee ballots. Requests for absentee ballots are due 5 p.m. Aug. 20 by mail or in person. Visit www.miamidade.gov/elections for the form and send it to Miami-Dade Elections Department, Absentee Ballot Section, PO Box 521250, Miami 33152-1250. Details: 311.
ROCKET MAN JOINS HOSPITAL: Jeffrey P. Freimark, former chief financial officer of Intelsat, largest owner of commercial satellites in the world, has been appointed CEO of the Miami Jewish Home and Hospital. He will lead the hospital's 1,400 employees and manage an annual budget of $110 million in addition to running two campuses and multiple community outreach programs. He said his biggest challenge will be meeting the complex needs of patients while adjusting to shrinking insurance reimbursement rates.
ALUMNUS HEADS FIU FOUNDATION: After sitting on the FIU Foundation's board of directors for two years, alumnus Joseph L. Caruncho has been appointed its chairman. He'll lead the board in expanding the university's educational, cultural and economic resource. "Joe Caruncho is one of a rising group of alumni who have broadened their leadership roles at our university," said FIU President Modesto A. Maidique. "The continued success of the FIU Foundation will ensure the growth and well-being of our university." Mr. Caruncho is CEO of Preferred Care Partners and holds a law degree from Nova Southeastern University.
A NEW CUP o'JOE: South Florida's first Chock Full o'Nuts Cafe coffee shop opened Thursday (7/31) in the Espirito Santo Plaza, 1395 Brickell Ave. It features the well-known Datenut bread and cream cheese sandwich — which is flown in from New York — to complement its "Heavenly Coffee," according to a news release. Also available are more than 30 hand-crafted hot and cold specialty beverages and an array of fresh baked goods. Business President Jerry Berman said the company isn't going head-up with Starbucks on the streets — at least not yet — and is looking to develop its brand in office buildings. "(Customers) are identifying with us," he said. "We didn't do any heavy advertising; we are getting recognized."
AND IF YOU SPILL…: South Florida's eco-friendly dry-cleaning franchise OXXO Care Cleaners is to open in Mary Brickell Village, its first Brickell location. The upscale stores in a luxurious European boutique-style setting feature on-site hand ironing and offer the convenience of using a pre-paid card at an innovative 24/7 ATM-style pick-up and drop-off machine, according to a news release. The company has more than 26 franchises, including 21 in South Florida, three in New Jersey and two in Washington, DC.
DORAL DEVELOPING: Mixed-use project Park Square at Doral, 3600 NW 82nd Ave., has topped off its 231,500-square-foot Class A office building, One Park Square. The building is to be complete in December. The whole development, once complete, is to include also 130,000 square feet of high-end retail as well as residential lofts and town homes. Details: www.parksquareatdoral.com.
CITY HOSTS WEBINAR: ACCESS Miami, a City of Miami initiative, is hosting an online seminar from 10-11 a.m. today (8/7) to teach small business owners about predatory business practices such as the growing use of merchant cash advances threatening some Miami-based businesses. At the US Conference of Mayors in Miami in June, Mayor Manny Diaz, leader of the group, spearheaded a resolution calling for small business education on predatory and payday lending. The seminar is to feature Mitch Jacobs, a small business expert, who will explain financing alternatives and advise how to evaluate lenders and avoid predatory products. Details: (305) 416-1481.
TALLEST TOWER LEASING: Chairman of Florida East Coast Realty Tibor Hollo appointed Lee Tomback director of leasing and marketing for some projects including One Bayfront Plaza downtown. The $1.8 billion development is to include two 70-story mixed-use towers, which Mr. Hollo hopes is to be Miami's tallest building and the first hotel to be built north of the Miami River in 25 years.
SARNOFF DRIVES SMART: Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff is driving smart with his new black Smart Fortwo car. He gave some city employees a test drive in his 45-miles-per-gallon ride. The city also has a hybrid fleet for selected officials.
SANCHEZ V. SARNOFF: An e-mail feud erupted after the July 24 Miami commission meeting when Chairman Joe Sanchez presented a pocket item donating $300 to the Coconut Grove Track Club from his office account. Marc Sarnoff, who represents the Grove, responded: "We'll make an exception that you are spending money on a pocket item" and followed with "I am just teasing." Ten athletes needed $3,500 to go to the Junior Olympics in Detroit last week. They got an outpouring of donations and Mr. Sanchez agreed to cover the shortfall. After he publicly mentioned his aid, some questioned why Mr. Sarnoff's office didn't offer it. But in an e-mail from his chief of staff, Ron Nelson, to Grove community leaders he said, "The reason we did not make it public that our office would fund the shortfall is that we did not want to see the community stop contributing." In the end the e-mail hype got the children more for their trip, including a $100 donation by Mr. Sarnoff's law firm Sarnoff & Bayer.
MUSEUM GETS MILLIONS: Miami commissioners approved July 24 the long-awaited $2 million from a 2001 referendum for the Miami Art Museum. The money is to help pay for the building to rise in Museum Park, Miami's $60 million project planned for Bicentennial Park. The city's slice of the museum development is to be funded with Homeland Defense/Neighborhood Improvement Bond monies. Before commissioners approved, Terence Riley, museum executive director, had to address eight conditions, including fulfilling financial requirements commissioners had requested at several meetings. The vote authorizes City Manager Pete Hernandez to negotiate and execute a project co-operation agreement.
MUSEUM FUNDRAISES FORWARD: Former chief development officer of the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind Sheldon L. Roy has been appointed senior vice president of the Miami Science Museum. He, along with Board Chairs Dan and Trish Bell and Capital Campaign Co-Chairs, Paul Di Mare and Paula Brockway, will spearhead the museum's fundraising effort to pursue its goal of building a $250 million home in downtown Miami. Mr. Roy formerly worked for the American Red Cross and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and Planned Giving Counsel of Miami.
SPAIN BOUND: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise Florida and the Trade Commission of Spain in Florida are to host a business mission to Madrid, Pamplona and Barcelona, Spain, Oct. 10-19. The trip is part of the chamber's European Linkages program. The aim is to connect Miamians with Spanish business leaders through seminars and networking events, as well as to strengthen business relations between Florida and Europe. Targeted sectors include architecture, consulting, education, insurance, finance, franchising and distribution, medicine, real estate and renewable energy. Organizers are offering a $475 airfare. Registration costs range from $575 to $900 between members and non-members and depend on the date of signup. Details: (305) 577-5445.
BACKYARD VACATIONS: The City of Miami Beach and Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce's "Be a Tourist in Your Own Town" program offers special packages for South Florida residents to encourage them to spend vacation dollars locally. A valid Florida ID is needed to participate. Miami Beach hotels, restaurants and businesses can list their special offers online. Businesses interested in participating can contact Franchesca Ramsey at the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, (305) 695-6832, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Details: www.miamibeachguest.com or www.miamibeach25-7.com.
CITY'S LEGAL ELITE: Three City of Miami attorneys got spots among Florida Trend magazine's 2008 Legal Elite, representing about 2% of Florida's 61,000 bar members. Maria J. Chiaro, supervisor of the Environmental and Quality of Life Division; Victoria Méndez, and land use litigator Rafael Suárez-Rivas ranked in the list. Both Ms. Chiaro and Ms. Méndez joined the city's legal team in 2004 and Mr. Suárez-Rivas back in 2002.