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Front Page » FYI Miami » Fyi Miami

Fyi Miami

Written by on March 26, 2009


Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead

of the news. Here are highlights from the most current edition.

   OMAHA GETS THE CALL: One month before a Marlins stadium deal survived votes at the county and city commissions, with many commissioners highlighting opportunities for local workers and firms, Miami officials selected Omaha, Neb.-based architectural firm Leo A. Daly as the finalist to design the ballpark’s parking garages and lots, a city memo shows. The memo dated Feb. 20 reads, "the committee encourages the approval of the below recommended firm and authorization to begin negotiations with the top-ranked firm."

   THE CHOSEN ONE: Leo A. Daly is an international architecture, planning and engineering firm that has an office with about 20 employees in Coconut Grove at 3390 Mary St. The local office’s managing principal is Miami-Dade County Public Schools board member Agustin J. Barrera. The firm was the selected architect for the clubhouse the city is building at the Melreese Golf Course and also designed the new terminal for American Airlines at Miami International Airport.

   RUNNERS-UP: Miami’s capital improvements department received 19 proposals after requesting qualifications to hire a firm to design the garages. Runners-up included five locally-headquartered firms: Miami-based Bermello Ajamil & Partners and Arquitectonica, and Coral Gables-based Spillis Candela DMJM, Rodriguez & Quiroga and Wolfberg Alvarez & Partners.

   OPEN BIDDING: Though Miami and Miami-Dade commissioners agreed to waive the competitive bidding process and hire stadium contractor Hunt/Moss to do infrastructure work at the Marlins ballpark site, the city plans bidding for a contractor to build garages and lots there, Miami Chief Financial Officer Larry Spring says. "It’s its own procurement process." He predicted, however, that Hunt/Moss may vie for the job. "They’ll probably bid on it," he said, "but we’re doing a complete competitive process." Plans are to build four garages and six surface lots with up to 6,000 spaces. If costs exceed $94 million, the city is to reduce parking spots to keep the price within the limit. Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who voted against the stadium deal, later added that the cap is only on hard costs and does not include soft costs, which could run 10% to 20% over. The city administration did not step in to dispute the figure.

   DESTINATION COLOMBIA: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce is to host a trade mission to Bogota, Barranquilla and Cartagena, Colombia, April 20 to 25. The trip is part of the chamber’s Americas Linkage program, which seeks to assist business development by sponsoring such trips throughout the hemisphere. "Our goal is always to provide an affordable venue for small business to learn how to do business in a safe and comfortable environment in Latin America," said Liane Ventura, senior vice president of the chamber’s International Business Development group. "We have receptions at the US embassy or hosted by a senior member of the US commercial service, and our members put on seminars for those interested in doing business in the US." The trips started in 1999 and this will be the fourth trip to Colombia. Details:

   NEW HOME: The Colombian-American Chamber of Commerce headed by President Carmenza Jaramillo inaugurated offices at Doral’s Miami Free Zone last week. The growing city in West Dade has large Venezuelan and Colombian communities. The Miami Free Zone features 850,000 square feet of foreign trade zone facilities and houses the Florida Foreign Trade Association.

   SHRINKING SUPPLY: Miami-Dade County’s supply of single-family homes for sale fell 13.2%, from 40,994 to 35,581, from last Nov. 24 to March 23, according to a report by Condo Vultures LLC. Additionally, pending sales via signed contracts to buy previously owned homes jumped 31% to 5,559 during the period. "What were seeing is a continuous increase in sales volumes, especially in resale housing, as prices roll back to levels prior to 2004," said Michael Y. Cannon, executive director of Integra Realty Resources. While the housing market is not yet fully recovered, supply seems to be heading back to equilibrium. "Typically," he said, "you would have about a six-month supply, and in some submarkets you still have a couple years supply" of homes.

   TOURING DOWNTOWN: Miami’s Downtown Development Authority is taking staff on orientation tours twice a month to acquaint them with new developments. The team has visited the Viceroy Miami’s resort & residences and condo tower One Broadway in Brickell. Additional tours of other big-name properties are planned. Marketing Manager Robert Geitner said the authority is also organizing tours for visiting writers and journalists during this year’s International Pow Wow tourist trade show, which Miami is hosting in May. He said tours include stops along the waterfront and Brickell Avenue’s corridor.

   MASTER PLANNING: The downtown authority is organizing workshops to let area stakeholders share concerns and ideas for downtown Miami’s proposed master plan. The plan provides a long-term blueprint for the revitalization of downtown into a vibrant urban center and is to guide future public investment in the district. A workshop is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. today (3/26) at Mary Brickell Village and another at the same time March 31 at the authority’s offices, 200 S Biscayne Blvd., Suite 2929.

   DOWNTOWN HIRES PR FIRM: The Downtown Development Authority’s board voted last week to hire local public relations firm Schwartz Media Strategies for $65,000 for six months, with two one-year renewal options of $100,000 per year. Board Chairman Joe Sanchez was pleased: "We’ve hired the right company at the right time for the DDA."

   CHILDREN’S TRUSTEES: Out of 160 who applied, four new members have been named to the Children’s Trust while several founding members, including former Miami Herald Publisher David Lawrence Jr., are term-limited out. New members are Antoinette JG Hill, assistant professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine; Dr. Thresia B. Gambon, medical director of community health at Jackson Healthcare System; Nora Hernandez Hendrix, social science professor at Miami-Dade College, and Isaac Prilleltensky, dean of University of Miami’s College of Education. Mr. Lawrence, who last month was named founding board chair, will continue to provide advice and guidance from this non-voting post.

   REPLACING RUTH: The Dade Community Foundation, a grant-writing community endowment with about $170 million, has hired Korn/Ferry International to help find a replacement for departing President Ruth Shack. "We’re looking for someone who has a high degree of integrity, respect and leadership and is local," said Foundation Chairman George Foyo. "We need someone who has access to community leaders." While he wouldn’t discuss how much the foundation is paying Korn/Ferry for the search, he said Ms. Shack has agreed to stay on "as long as necessary."

   MORE EMPTY ROOMS: Miami-Dade hotel sales numbers continue to sink in the recession, according to Smith Travel Research. February occupancy was 73.3%, down 12.3% from February 2008. Average daily room rate at $179.85 was down 14.8% from the same time last year, while revenue per available room stood at $131.91, down 25.3%.

   NEUROLOGIST GOES NATIONAL: The American Heart Association has elected Dr. Ralph Sacco, chair of the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine’s neurology department, national president for 2010. He will be the first neurologist elected to the post and is to play a key role in promoting stroke-prevention awareness. Dr. Sacco, who is also neurologist-in-chief at Jackson Memorial Hospital, will become president-elect in July before taking the post at the beginning of 2010.

   TALKING TRANSIT: Miami-Dade may begin hosting semi-annual transit meetings to "continue the ongoing dialogue on transit issues with federal, state, and local officials as well as concerned members of the community," according to legislation commission Chair Dennis Moss is proposing. He masterminded a November transit summit discussing the future of the transit department and half-penny transportation surtax. His intent was to follow up with quarterly summits, but members of the Transit, Infrastructure and Roads Committee amended his proposal to semi-annual meetings. Good idea, but quarterly is too often, Commissioner Carlos Gimenez said. "That open meeting that we had [in November], that was quite a big production." Katy Sorenson suggested calling the events "meetings" rather than "summits." The full commission is to make the final call April 7.

   GOING GREEN: Keep an eye out for 13 new diesel/electric hybrid buses on Miami-Dade streets. Commissioners at the transit committee meeting agreed to buy the 40-foot, energy-efficient buses for nearly $7.5 million to replace aging buses. "Miami-Dade Transit is transitioning its bus fleet to hybrid buses in order to benefit from the environmental and energy efficient hybrids," county documents say. Florida Department of Transportation grants are to cover half the cost, half-penny transit surtax proceeds the rest. Hybrids are more cost effective over time than standard buses, the documents say. "Savings are achieved through reduced fuel consumption and lower maintenance costs." The full commission is to consider the measure April 7.

   AVOIDING CONFLICT: A new gig as of counsel with law firm Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson "enables me to maintain my interest in local government and issues this community is facing," former Miami-Dade County Attorney Murray A. Greenberg says. But he notes he won’t be able to handle business in regard to the county until July 1 because of a Miami-Dade conflict of interest ordinance that requires a two-year buffer. He was county attorney two years, first assistant 25 years and an assistant eight years. He retired June 30, 2007.

   SPRING TRAINING: The South Florida Workforce Investment Board has awarded of $75,143 in training funds to Jet Aviation Specialists Inc., Eagle Overhauling Inc. and Southern Gear and Machine Inc. The awards are part of the agency’s business development initiative, intended to help increase skills of workers in areas such as automotive electronics, geometric dimensioning and aviation.

   MILLIONS FOR PARK: Overtown’s Community Redevelopment Agency is granting the City of Miami $1 million as part of a $16 million renovation of Gibson Park, 401 NW 12th St. Phase one plans are to build a community center and renovate a football and baseball field for about $6 million. The costs are covered by the redevelopment agency’s grant along with $5 million from the city’s Sunshine State loan. Phase two is to build a recreation center with an arts and crafts room and dance studio for $10 million. But Ola Aluko, head of Miami’s capital improvements department, said no funding is available for phase two. Park renovations are to begin this fall.

   OHL SOARING: Spanish construction company OHL Group’s most recent financial reports show the US is the firm’s third-largest market outside of Spain. The Davie-based Spanish company since 2006 has acquired Community Asphalt Corp., The Tower Group and Arellano Construction to build a stronger presence in Florida. OHL is also expanding in Latin America, where it has landed contracts in Mexico, Brazil and Peru. The firm is investing about $1.3 billion in Latin America yearly. In Miami, OHL recently won a $360 million contract to extend Metrorail to Miami International Airport and is bidding to operate toll road Alligator Alley, which extends from Naples on the west coast to Weston on the east.

   GABLES GAMES: The Sports Exchange, an upscale sports bar, is to open in early April at 45 Miracle Mile in Coral Gables. In addition to its 24 plasma-screen TVs, upscale-sports-bar food and private party room, the restaurant is to feature "The Shrine:" A 25-by-8 -foot, high-definition projection screen surrounded by eight 58-inch, high-definition plasma TVs and a 16-foot scrolling ticker. In addition to showing a range of sporting events and games, lunchtime will feature up-to-date stock quotes and local and national news shows. Details:

   STEPPING UP SECURITY: A third party is now monitoring visitors’ identification at Jackson Memorial Hospital after a hard drive was stolen from the hospital’s data center this month. "Jackson has taken steps to ensure this does not happen again," a press statement says, such as storing the information off site and destroying visitor data after 30 days. "No social security numbers or financial information was stored on the missing drive," and the thief appears to have only been interested in the hard drive itself, not the information, the statement says. The theft comes two years after aformer Baptist Hospital employee was arrested on a charge relating to accessing financial records of several thousand patients.

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