Written by Miami Today on October 2, 2008
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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HQ HELP: After allocating $100 million toward a new $237 million US Southern Command Headquarters in Doral early this year, Congress has passed its fiscal 2009 Defense Authorization Act, disbursing another $81.6 million for the project. The act now awaits the president’s signature. "We are appreciative of Congress, our local and state representatives for their continued support of US Southern Command’s mission," said Col. Norberto R. Cintron, command engineer, in an e-mail. "The $81.6 million appropriated this fiscal year for phase II of the construction of the new headquarters will keep us on track in completing the project by September of 2010." The full $237 million has been authorized, and officials broke ground in June. The 630,425-square-foot headquarters is to provide space for 2,883 personnel.
NEW DIRECTORS: The Downtown Development Authority named Alyce Robertson executive director and Meredith Nation deputy director. The two were on borrowed time, Ms. Robertson from the county, Ms. Nation from the city. The board called a special, publicly-advertised meeting to appoint them to permanent posts because Ms. Robertson’s county contract was up in September and the next authority meeting is Oct. 17. "I am really excited about moving forward," she said, adding that in the interim role it was unknown whether she would see the success of her work.
MIAMI’S HOUSING RELIEF: The city is to receive $12.06 million from the federal housing relief act to help the city deal with effects of the foreclosure fiasco. Once the federal government issues specific guidelines for allocating the funds, the city commission will get final approval on how to spend the money. Priorities include helping residents keep homes and buying abandoned houses to repair and covert into affordable housing.
CITY DODGING PARCEL B: To avoid stepping on the county’s toes, Miami’s city commission last week killed a resolution to limit the county’s use of a downtown site to park space. Some county officials have voiced interest in building a Bay of Pigs museum in the area known as Parcel B, east of American Airlines Arena, but some say the proposal would also include a new garage for the arena. "I still don’t know if the agenda of the county is to please the Miami Heat or to build a museum," Commissioner Tomás Regalado said. Opponents of designating the waterfront land for the museum say the land is valuable as open space and has long been promised for use as a soccer field.
FALLING SHORT: The Bayfront Park Management Trust, led by Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, requested the resolution opposing the museum plan. It was the second time in a month a measure he pushed failed to get any commission support. The first was a request for the city to review residential tower One Broadway’s sign permit.
PLAY THROUGH A DELAY: Miami International Airport could get a kidport children’s play area with aviation themes under a resolution being introduced Tuesday at the Miami-Dade County Commission. Commissioner Dorrin Rolle is asking for a report from the mayor or manager within 30 days on the feasibility of creating a kidport while the airport’s terminals are being expanded. He cites as an example Boston’s Logan International Airport, where "tots can climb on model airplanes, glide down a baggage claim slide and learn about air travel through a window display." He notes that with all the air traffic delays and security checks, kids would have plenty of play time.
HONG KONG CONNECTION: The Association of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce in Florida is to host a seminar,"How to do business with China through Hong Kong," at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 8 at the InterContinental Hotel downtown. Lita Haeger, association president; Anly Liu, president of the China-Florida Chamber of Commerce; and Bridget Lee, vice president of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, are to speak. The association of bi-national chambers is to host also a business mission to Hong Kong Dec. 8-Dec.14. The delegation is toparticipate in the World SME Expo, which is visited every year by more than 30,000 small-to-medium enterprises. The Miami delegation is also to make a promotional presentation at the expo. Last year, about 300 Chinese companies attended the presentation, Ms. Haeger said. "We presented Miami as a gateway for Latin America and the Caribbean. And that was something incredibly new for the Chinese companies." Details: (305) 365-7247 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ATTENTION SHOPPERS: Expansion at Kendall Town & Country Center continues, with 400,000 square feet of retail construction underway. An 88,783-square-foot Kohl’s is the first tenant to open in the new phase. Once complete, the center is to total about 700,000 square feet. The existing 292,730 square feet of stores, including New York & Co. and Marshall’s, remains open during construction. The 75-acre complex, 8268 Mills Drive, is to be renamed "The Palms at Town & Country" to reflect its new open-air design and Mediterranean flavor. Details: Karen Sanzo, (561) 758-8390.
WATERFRONT STUDY: The University of Miami is unveiling a comprehensive design study of Miami’s waterfront Oct. 6 at the Miami Dade College Freedom Tower in downtown Miami. A symposium to include Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and city Commissioner Marc Sarnoff is set for 5-6 p.m. to discuss the future of the water’s edge as the design study envisions a boardwalk, sidewalk cafes, retail shops and townhouses along a seven-mile public waterfront. An exhibit showcasing 200 images created by UM School of Architecture students and faculty is also open 12-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday until Nov. 7. Details: (305) 284-5002.
BUDGET APPROVED: The Miami City Commission approved a $525.1 million budget for fiscal 2008. The tax rate is to go to 7.67 mills from 7.30 per $1,000 of taxable property value. The administration made trimmed expenses $48.5 million by cutting $13.5 million in departmental spending, eliminating and freezing 67 positions, deferring $15 million in payments to city retirees’ health plans and setting aside $5.3 million less than planned for lawsuit payouts. The initial $35 million shortfall was also slashed by increasing the annual solid waste fee homeowners are to pay by $40 and cutting back to once-monthly bulk trash pickups.
BUDGET DISSENT: Commission Chairman Joe Sanchez was the only one to oppose the budget, disagreeing with the fee hike. He said the administration is also funding too many "pet projects." Miami’s budget is also beefing up services like police by adding 25 officers and $2 million for park operations, investing $1.5 million in poverty-reduction initiatives and increasing compensation in all union contracts.
MAKING THE GRADE: Moody’s Investors Service has affirmed Miami-Dade County Department of Solid Waste Management’s Revenue Investment Bonds’ AAA rating for the fourth year running. AAA is the strongest creditworthiness rating for US municipal or tax-exempt bonds.
MIDDLE EAST EXPANSION: Florida-based law firm Holland + Knight, with offices on Brickell Avenue, has opened an office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Donald Moore, a Holland + Knight partner previously located here, has moved to Abu Dhabi to serve as the office’s executive partner.At least one otherpartner and several associates are to also relocate. The site was chosen to allow the firm to serve clients located or doing business in the Middle East and surrounding regions, as well as to support cross-border transactions and the firm’s cross-border dispute resolution practice.
NEW BASS DIRECTOR: Silvia Karman Cubiñá took over this week as executive director and chief curator of the Bass Museum of Art on Miami Beach. She’s founding director of The Moore Space, a contemporary art exhibition space founded by collectors Rosa de la Cruz and Craig Robins that has just closed. Before that, she was an independent curator and held the post of adjunct curator at inova, the Institute of Visual Arts, at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Previously, she held posts at The Mexican Museum in San Francisco and the Cuban Museum of Art in Miami.
REAL-ESTATE DEBATE: Candidates for the newly created elective post of Miami-Dade property appraiser will gather for a forum moderated by former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre. Candidates Pedro J. Garcia, Eddie Lewis, Gwen Margolis and James A. Shedd will meet at 4 p.m. Oct. 13 at the BankUnited Center’s Hurricane Room to give voters an opportunity to learn about the candidates’ plans. "The race has been below the radar, said Richard Namon, program chairman of forum organizer the Ponce de Leon Business Association. "We’re trying to bring it into focus."
VOTE URBAN: The Miami Downtown Development Authority and the Downtown Miami Partnership are sponsoring a one-stop shop for voters who live in Brickell or downtown. Lofts One and Two, Brickell on the River and One and Two Tequesta Point, in addition to nine other condominium and apartment buildings, will be open for first-time registration, change of address and absentee balloting in preparation for the general election in November.
CONGRESSIONAL SHOWDOWN: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce will sponsor a congressional forum with six local candidates for the House of Representatives. Candidates will accept questions from the public in a town-hall setting moderated by Channel 10 reporter Michael Putney at noon Oct. 8 at Jungle Island’s Treetop Ballroom, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail on Watson Island.
APPRAISER’S FORUM: The American Society of Appraisers and the Realtors
Association of Greater Miami and the Beaches will host a forum with the four candidates bidding for the new position of County Property Appraiser. Candidates will take the audience’s questions at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Big Five Club, 600 SW 92nd Ave. in Sweetwater.
ROOM AT THE TOP: The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade has said farewell to CEO and Executive Director Claudia Kitchens, who served as CEO nearly nine years, oversaw a 10-fold increase in grant-making capabilities and expansion in its gender-specific outreach. The incoming CEO has yet to be named but Human Resources Director Marjorie Adler said someone with significant deal-making experience is preferred. "We don’t necessarily require not-for-profit experience," she said. "We need somebody who can close deals and inspire other people to do the same." In 2008, the Women’s Fund made grants totaling more than $500,000 to 50 local gender-specific programs.
RETAIL RUSH: The first retailers have signed commercial leases for mixed-use project 1060 Brickell. CHAMPS Brickell pre-school, Roberto Giordano Salon-Spa, Mr. Sushi Restaurant, La Provence Bakery, Café Sci Sci, Yogurbella and Arthur Murray Dance Studio are to set up shop within the project’s 24,000 square feet of retail. Residential condo closings in the 570-unit development are ongoing. Residential and retail spaces are still available. Details: Residential sales: (305) 329-1060; Commercial: (786) 262-9966; www.1060Brickell.com.
SUMMER JOBS: Miami-Dade’s leisure and hospitality sector increased its record employment level 2% in August, when 103,400 people were employed compared with 101,400 in August 2007.
SERVICE TRAINING OK’ED: The board of the Southeast Overtown/Park West and Omni Community Redevelopment Agencies, made up of all five Miami commissioners, has agreed to grant $25,000 to Johnson &Wales University to area train restaurant owners and employees. Jim Villacorta, the agencies’ executive director, said new restaurants are opening in the area and he hopes staff training will help them flourish. He said the program is to include classes on how to designing menus and improve service techniques, food sanitation and safety.