Written by Miami Today on July 16, 2009
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AND THEY’RE OFF: Miami-Dade County is out of the gate on its proposed plan to install Las Vegas-style slots at Miami-International Airport. Miami-Dade Aviation last week applied for a state permit to race quarterhorses. A permit would open the door to applying for a slots license. County commissioners this month OK’d seeking the racing permit, making clear they’re interested in keeping open the chance to install slots but not necessarily committed to them. They’ll officially decide later whether to take that gamble. Aviation officials have proposed slots along with a litany of revenue-generating initiatives meant to help pay for $500 million in annual aviation debt service and operating costs expected beginning in 2015. The county wouldn’t have to run the races — it could lease its permit to a racing venue such as Hialeah or Gulfstream.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD: You won’t see many workers on the site of the new South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center these days. Construction on the long-delayed theater and activities center in Cutler Bay has slowed as the contractor develops a plan to fix past mistakes on the job. Commissioners approved the $38.8 million project in 2005, projecting an August 2007 opening. Between re-doing shoddy work, then putting on finishing touches, opening night could come in late 2010 or early 2011, commissioners learned last month. Not much has changed physically since then, Cultural Affairs Deputy Director Deborah Margol told them at a Recreation, Culture and Tourism Committee meeting Monday. But the contractor has been hard at work mapping a remedy. South Dade Commissioner Katy Sorenson said she saw only one worker on site during a recent drive-by. Ms. Margol said that could last for a while, though work continues behind the scenes.
MUSEUM PARK(ING): The Florida Department of Transportation handed over to the City of Miami a 1,543-square-foot slice of land at the future site of Museum Park — now Bicentennial Park — at last week’s city commission meeting. The land, on the park’s northeast corner adjacent to I-395, is to be used for the Miami Art Museum parking garage, according to city documents. The city is getting the land free so long as it’s used for public purposes. Two museum buildings are to rise in the park, including also a building combining science and history museums.
DOMESTIC DRAW: Domestic arrivals at Miami International Airport increased 0.7% in May, though overall arrivals still fell 1.2% from May 2008. International arrivals, which gained strongly in 2008, fell 3.5% in May and are down 1.9% for the year’s first five months. Year-to-date arrivals are down 1.4%.