Southeast Business Briefs - Aug. 2004
Broward County -- County commissioners have agreed to pay off $481,811 in debt and lawsuit settlements left over from the tenure of former Supervisor of Elections Miriam Oliphant, who was suspended by Gov. Jeb Bush last year for mismanagement.
Four south Broward neighborhoods will become the county's 31st city if voters approve a referendum on the November ballot. The new city, dubbed West Park, would comprise approximately 13,000 people.
Deerfield Beach -- Organizers have begun raising money to build a $25-million to $35-million hurricane and tropical storm education facility that would include a 250-seat auditorium and a host of weather instruments and exhibits. The project is spearheaded by a Deerfield Beach fire rescue captain.
Fort Lauderdale -- Vanguard Car Rental, parent company of Alamo and National car rental units, has decided to keep a reservations center in south Florida despite plans to move its headquarters to Tulsa, Okla. About 1,200 employees will remain in south Florida.
Oakland Park -- Point Blank Body Armor is planning to add workers and ramp up production after winning a $239.4-million, three-year contract to supply the Army with equipment. Point Blank has three south Florida plants and employs about 675.
Port St. Lucie -- City council members have agreed to hold off on limiting construction hours to give the industry time to voluntarily try to placate residents frustrated by late night and weekend construction noise.
St. Lucie West -- State healthcare officials have turned down plans by Martin Memorial Health Systems to add an 80-bed acute-care hospital to its campus.
Stuart -- City commissioners have adopted a three-story, 35-foot height limit for all buildings in the city's old downtown.
Treasure Coast -- Two former professional figure skaters plan to develop a 21,000-sq.-ft. ice-skating, restaurant and children's entertainment center in Palm Beach County or the Treasure Coast by next summer. Richard and Michi Porter say they hope to eventually open 15 to 20 centers, to be known as P.D. Penguin's, across the state.
Home building on the Treasure Coast last year outpaced growth in every other area of the country, according to an annual survey in Builder magazine's May issue. According to the report, building permits for single-family homes increased by 92% from 2002 to 2003.
West Palm Beach -- A $1.4-billion lawsuit against Fidelity Federal Bank & Trust over its purchase of drivers license information used to send out mail solicitations for its auto refinance loans was dismissed by a federal judge, who ruled that the lead plaintiff had suffered no damage.
A city injunction that prevented Palm Beach County ranch owner Charles Vavrus from clearing part of his 4,763-acre ranch was not illegal, a jury has concluded. Vavrus, whose property includes land planned as part of the biotech village accompanying the development of the Scripps Research Institute campus, sued for restoration costs and lost income, alleging the city was trying to force him to sell at a discount.
Weston -- The Bonaventure Resort & Spa could get a makeover under plans by one of the resort's original developers to buy it back, sell off rooms as condominiums and bring in a Golden Door spa to upgrade the 496-room facility.
AIR & SEA SHOW
FORT LAUDERDALE -- City commissioners have reached an agreement to keep the annual Air & Sea Show going for at least one more year. The city had threatened to end its contract with the show's production company, Pro Series Inc., saying costs had become prohibitive. Business pledges are expected to offset at least $100,000 in costs next year.
SOUTH FLORIDA -- Two Florida companies involved in NASA's SATS (Small Aircraft Transport System) program have yet to get off the ground after high-flying promises of lighter jets and air taxi services two years ago. Miami-based Safire Aircraft temporarily suspended operations in June while it sought new funding. And in a more bizarre twist, The Nimbus Group of Fort Lauderdale left the project altogether, changing its name to Taylor Madison and shifting its focus to fragrances and cosmetics.