Southeast Florida Roundup
Partnering to build a road in Southeast Florida
By any measure, the four-year expansion of I-595 counts as a blockbuster. More than 275 companies participated in what was the largest construction project in Florida during the recession and the first such major public-private partnership in the state. The project employed an average of 2,000 workers with $17 million a month in construction spending.
"This project really came at the right time," says Paul Lampley, construction project manager. "This has really helped the construction industry in south Florida in keeping these companies with jobs, keeping their workers wanted."
In March, the project, on schedule and on budget, will be largely complete with the opening of three tolled, reversible express lanes that will separate long-distance commuters from more local traffic for the length of the ride. The route carries 180,000 vehicles a day between I-75 on the edge of the Everglades and I-95, the port and airport in the east.
I-595's unusual partnership came through necessity. To build the reversible express lanes, the state had to make costly changes to the rest of the expressway, combining exits for smoother traffic flow, adjusting the path of State Road 84 and other connectors. Pecking away incrementally with the normal levels of funding would have meant a 15- to 20-year project on an already overburdened road. Commuters wouldn't have seen the major benefit — those reversible express lanes — until the tail end. Florida would have needed $700 million more to move faster.
The state looked for alternatives. It hired advisers and went with a publicprivate partnership model already in use around the world. A consortium led by Spain's ACS Infrastructure Development in 2009 signed a $1.8-billion contract to design, finance, construct, operate and maintain I-595 for 35 years. Operating includes running the express lanes, providing road rangers 24/7 and litter pickup. In return, it receives $685 million from the state over seven years once the state accepts the project and then $65.9 million a year for 30 years.
The three reversible lanes mean the road has six lanes of new capacity for the price of three. The extra capacity should last until 2034, when 300,000 vehicles a day are projected on I-595.
BOCA RATON –
ESPN will own and operate a bowl game at Florida Atlantic University's stadium beginning in December and featuring teams from Conference USA, the American Athletic Conference and the Mid- American Conference.
DEERFIELD BEACH –
People's Trust Insurance bought a 40,316-sq.-ft. offce building at the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University and 6.2 adjacent acres in Deerfeld Beach and plans to locate its headquarters there.
BOYNTON BEACH –
Kinon Surface Design, a maker of materials used as wall panels, tabletops, fooring and other products, is relocating from New Jersey and opening a factory that will employ 35.
FORT LAUDERDALE –
BBX Capital and BFC Financial acquired nearly all the assets and operations of Ontariobased Renin, a maker of closet doors, wall decor, hardware and other home products. Real estate frm Stiles, which is building centers for Publix in North Carolina, opened an offce in Charlotte to facilitate a Southeast U.S. expansion. Stiles appointed Scott MacLaren, formerly senior vice president of Stiles Real Estate Investments, as president of North Carolina operations. » The International Swimming Hall of Fame will leave Fort Lauderdale when its agreement with the city expires in 2015. The two sides couldn't agree on terms for locating the hall at the city's new aquatic center to be constructed on the old site. Zurich-based Nyrstar will put the headquarters for its Americas mining operations downtown and create 25 jobs paying an average of $143,000. » JetBlue plans to increase its fights from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to 100 a day from 65.
HUTCHINSON ISLAND –
Palm Beach developer George Heaton has proposed building a 400-room Orchid Beach Resort on the site of a former Radisson, which was torn down after incurring hurricane damage.
Max Planck Florida Institute scientist Hyungbae Kwon received a $60,000 "Young Investigators" grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation to conduct autism-related research.
POMPANO BEACH –
Emerson Network Power is closing its local plant and laying off 43. » Jacksonvillebased Crowley Maritime is moving its Titan Salvage unit to Houston. Titan is salvaging Carnival's Costa Concordia in Italy.
Annapolis, Md.- based Synaptic Advisory Partners, a cloud consulting frm, opened its Florida offce and plans to add 20 jobs in IT and sales.
SB Capital Acquisition closed its JC's 5 Star Outlet, the old J.C. Penney Outlet store, at Sawgrass Mills and laid off 103.
WEST PALM BEACH –
Sugar grower Florida Crystals will swap land in the Everglades Agricultural Area with water regulatory body the South Florida Water Management District to facilitate Everglades replumbing. The swap will save the agency $32.7 million.
Boca Raton-based security company ADT hired NYSE Euronext CFO and group Executive Vice President Michael Geltzeiler as CFO. » Boca Raton Regional Hospital hired University of Florida College of Medicine in Jacksonville brain surgeon and neurological surgery Chairman Robert M. Levy as director of its new, $42-million Marcus Neuroscience Institute, which will open in April. Offce Depot hired grocery retailer Roland C. Smith as chairman and CEO as the company merged with Offce Max. Smith, formerly CEO of Delhaize America, parent of Food Lion and Hannaford, replaces Neil Austrian and Ravi Saligram, Offce Depot's co-CEOs, who resigned.
The public-private highway project will be largely complete next month with the opening of three tolled, reversible express lanes that will separate longdistance commuters from local traffic.
In July, Denise and Jim Castronovo opened what is said to be the frst bean-to-bar, handcrafted, chocolate shop in Florida. The Castronovos import beans from Belize, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic, roast them and turn them into chocolate in their Stuart store. Denise Castronovo says the business is going well. The store is turning a proft and has started selling wholesale to grocery stores, health food stores and gourmet shops from as far away as California. "Chocolate's sort of going through a revolution right now the way coffee or craft beer did years ago," Denise Castronovo says. The Castronovos moved to Florida in 2005 from Massachusetts.