A Record Deal for Peebles
MIAMI-DADE -- Developer R. Donahue Peebles has sold the Royal Palm Hotel, billed as the first black-owned convention hotel in the U.S., to Chicago-based The Falor Cos. The $127.5 million is the highest ever paid for a Miami Beach hotel. The deal was contingent on the Miami Beach City Commission's approval of Falor's proposal to convert 160 of the hotel's 417 rooms to condo units. The sale ends a chapter in a long saga on race relations in Miami-Dade.
The city of Miami Beach provided the land for the hotel free of charge and invited black developers to bid on the project. The gesture was made as part of the negotiations to end a black tourism boycott of the county following the snubbing of Nelson Mandela during his visit to Miami in 1990. Cuban leaders in Miami-Dade objected to the South African's visit because of his refusal to denounce Fidel Castro.
MIAMI -- The city has closed on the sale of the Miami Arena for $28 million, paving the way for renovations to the Orange Bowl and possibly the construction of a stadium for the Florida Marlins. City officials say the arena was virtually obsolete the day it opened in 1988 at a cost of $52 million. The NBA's Miami Heat and NHL's Florida Panthers -- two early tenants -- quickly fled for more modern, luxurious arenas. The arena's buyer has not announced plans for the downtown facility.
MIAMI BEACH -- The Switzerland-based organizers of Art Basel, the world's most prestigious art fair, have announced an indefinite extension to their initial three-year commitment to south Florida as host of its North American fair. Art Basel Miami Beach, as the event is called, attracted an estimated 33,000 out-of-town visitors to its second annual event last December.
MIAMI-DADE -- Cost overruns for Miami International Airport's north terminal could top $140 million. County officials say they will meet with representatives from American Airlines, the new terminal's principal user, seeking a commitment from the carrier to cover much of the overrun. Insiders say the tough stance in those negotiations adopted by former Miami-Dade Aviation Department Director Angela Gittens led to her undoing. Gittens resigned last November under pressure from County Manager George Burgess. The airport is undergoing a $4.8-billion upgrade and expansion.
SFBC International (Nasdaq-SFCC), a Miami firm that conducts phase I and phase II clinical research trials for large drug companies, has acquired a similar firm, New Jersey-based PharmaNet, for $245 million. SFBC employs about 860.
The South Miami Hospital Foundation has received a $10-million gift to open a center for the study and treatment of abnormalities in the heart's electrical system. The donor, L. Austin Weeks, announced the gift after being treated at the hospital for an abnormal heart rhythm.
Nearly 29% of all non-elderly residents in Miami-Dade lack health insurance -- the highest of any Florida county. The results, from a survey conducted by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, showed an increase from 25% in 1999. Statewide, about 19% of non-elderly Floridians are uninsured, up from 17% five years ago.