Miami-Dade Business Briefs - Oct. 2004
Miami's Bascom Palmer Eye Institute has been named the best eye-care center in the nation in U.S. News & World Report's annual hospital rankings. Bascom Palmer, the University of Miami's department of ophthalmology, is the only south Florida medical facility of any specialty to be ranked in the nation's top 10.
Three prominent board members of telecom infrastructure contractor MasTec (NYSE-MTZ) have resigned following a dispute over corporate governance. Out: Joseph P. Kennedy II, Deutsche Bank Managing Director William N. Shiebler and famed economist Arthur Laffer. Company executives say the flap arose after other board members rebuffed an effort to require an outside chairman and to remove a current director.
Miami-Dade -- Chicago-based hospitality firm Falor Co. continued its hotel-buying spree in south Florida with the acquisition of The Tides, one of South Beach's most recognizable properties. Like its other acquisitions -- Coconut Grove's Mayfair House and Islamorada's Cheeca Lodge -- some of The Tides' 45 units will be sold as condos.
The Florida International University athletic department has received a $1-million gift -- the department's largest in school history -- from Pharmed Group founders Jorge and Carlos de Cespedes. FIU's Golden Panther Arena will be renamed Pharmed Arena. Pharmed Group is one of the nation's largest independent suppliers of medical and surgical supplies and the eighth-largest Hispanic-owned business in the U.S.
The Mills Corp. has acquired a 50% stake in south Miami-Dade's upscale shopping mall The Falls. The Arlington, Va.-based company, which also owns and operates Broward County's massive Sawgrass Mills outlet, will take over management and leasing at The Falls, with a possible eye to overseeing a much-anticipated expansion of the 800,000-sq.-ft. open-air mall.
Highlighting its continued Florida expansion, Los Angeles-based real estate investment management firm CB Richard Ellis Investors has announced a joint venture agreement with the Miami investment firm America's Capital Partners to acquire a stake in 19 office buildings across south Florida. The deal is valued at about $208 million.
Miami Lakes -- Corona, Calif.-based Watson Pharmaceuticals has announced it will close its Miami Lakes manufacturing facility by the end of the year. About 150 workers will be laid off. The decision is a blow to Miami-Dade's biomedical industry, which economic development officials have targeted for expansion.
Monroe County -- The Army Corps of Engineers has given the green light to a controversial plan to widen an 18-mile stretch of U.S. 1 connecting the Florida Keys to the mainland. Officials say the project will speed up hurricane evacuation and improve safety on one of the state's most dangerous roadways. Some Keys activists opposed the plan, fearing that a four-lane highway will encourage more traffic into one of the state's most environmentally sensitive areas. Construction should begin early next year.
Opa-Locka -- Gov. Jeb Bush has suspended Opa-locka Mayor Myra Taylor following her indictment on tax-fraud charges. Taylor is accused of misusing more than $100,000 in funds from a charter school she operates. Opa-locka is one of Miami-Dade's poorest municipalities.
Miami International Airport
GRAND JURY CALLS FOR OVERSIGHT AUTHORITY
MIAMI-DADE -- In the latest tug-of-war between county commissioners and business leaders, a Miami-Dade grand jury has issued a report calling for an independent authority to oversee scandal-plagued Miami International Airport. Commissioners have repeatedly shot down attempts to create an authority, saying it would undercut their decision-making power. Earlier this year a coalition of business and civic leaders mounted a petition drive to place the issue on the November ballot but suspended its efforts out of fear that it could jeopardize a $2.9-billion bond issue also on the ballot.