Brickell seats a fourth member on Miami Downtown Development Authority board of directors
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
If more voices equals more advocacy, the Brickell area is now positioned to exert slightly more influence on Miami's Downtown Development Authority.
At its Friday meeting, the authority board approved four new appointments, two of which went to Brickell.
The board of directors sits 15 members; three are state and local government appointees. Of the remaining 12 district representatives, Brickell is to now have four; it previously held three seats, a net gain of one since the second appointee replaces a member who is termed out.
Danet Linares and Alan Ojeda are the new Brickell voices. Mr. Ojeda is the president and CEO of Rilea Group, developers of One Broadway at Brickell condominium. Ms. Linares is senior vice president and director of real estate services for the Foram Group, developers of the Brickell Financial Centre.
Before joining Foram, Ms. Linares served as vice president of leasing for the Bank of America building and before that managed leasing for 10 years at the Wachovia Financial Center.
"I am trying to be part of the catalyst for the improvement so many of the Brickell residents are asking for," she said.
The other two new appointments went to Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus President Rolando Montoya and Hank Klein, executive director of business development at Cushman & Wakefield; both are to represent all four districts.
The four appointments await confirmation by the city commission in September.
Alyce Robertson, interim director for the redevelopment authority since March, said the appointments, along with the expansion of two of the authority's service programs into the area, prove it is listening to Brickell's needs.
"We target the whole downtown area; one of the things we have been emphasizing is the different needs of the different areas," Ms. Robertson said.
To help meet those needs, the authority is expanding two of its service-oriented programs into Brickell: the Ambassador Program and Downtown Enhancement Team.
The authority funds these area programs from the millage it collects from properties in the authority's four areas: Central Business District, Brickell, Media Entertainment District and Park West.
But in past years, Brickellites have voiced concerns on how their tax dollars are spent and how much of it is put back into the district.
In 2007, Brickell contributed $2.96 million in taxes to the development authority, the most of any district, chipping in more than half of the $5.4 million collected, according to tax collection documents.
In 2006, the authority collected $3.9 million of which Brickell contributed $2.02 million, and in 2005 the agency received $3.2 million from the four districts' taxpayers, with Brickell paying $1.71 million. In both years, Brickell paid the most of any district.
The first service program it's expanding to Brickell is the Ambassadors, uniformed teams who provide an extra set of eyes and ears, assisting tourists, residents and business owners.
The authority is spending $175,000 from next year's fiscal budget to send an Ambassador team to the Brickell corridor starting in October, she said.
It's also expanding its Downtown Enhancement Team to tend to Brickell.
The authority budgeted $165,000 to fund a new handyman team to do minor maintenance like painting over graffiti, picking up trash and pressure cleaning sidewalks.
She said the two programs' success stems from on-the-street attention.
"We are there everyday, there is a lot that needs to be done daily in an urban area and fixing little things can make a difference."