Miami-Dade Business Briefs - March 2010
» A circuit court judge ruled that Adorno & Yoss CEO Hank Adorno violated Florida Bar Association rules when he accepted a $2-million fee in a class-action lawsuit regarding Miami fire service fees. The judge also ruled that Adorno did not mislead the court when he presented the settlement for the lawsuit.
» Real estate company Flagler, a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries, closed on a $460-million commercial mortgage-backed securities loan for its 44 commercial properties in the state. The company says it was the first non-government-supported CMBS issue in 18 months.
» In what is believed to be the first program of its kind in the nation, two-attorney international law firm Cueto Law Group announced it will let clients pay up to 20% of their legal fees with carbon credits.
» Ponte Gadea closed on a deal, signed in 2007, to purchase Bacardi U.S.A.’s headquarters from developer Flagler and J.P. Morgan for a reported $120 million to $130 million. Ponte Gadea is owned by Spanish apparel magnate Amancio Ortega, founder of retailer Zara.
» UPS will eliminate a district headquarters in Hialeah, which employs around 50; some 375 UPS jobs will remain in the city.
» Merrill-Stevens shut down its boatyard on the Miami River and laid off all but 28 employees. The 124-year-old company, which employed as many as 160 just two years ago, warned that more layoffs will come. Late last year, Merrill-Stevens closed its yacht services, sales and charter divisions. It says it will continue yacht storage and operate its boatyard, with repair and retrofit services, on a project basis.
» The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission widened its inquiry into the city’s finances, asking for all records relating to a $65-million November bond deal to raise money for sidewalk improvements.
» Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE-RCL) expects to add $65 million to its first-quarter revenue from the settlement of a lawsuit against Rolls-Royce over the pod-propulsion system on some Celebrity Cruises ships.
» Sixty-year-old aircraft engine maintenance and sales company AeroThrust filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
» Coconut Grove open-air shopping and entertainment complex Cocowalk is the subject of a $97.6-million foreclosure lawsuit from Bank of America, which represents a commercial mortgage-backed securities fund.
» Miami Dade College purchased slightly more than a half-acre across from its downtown Miami campus, in a flip that saw downtown land owner Rafael Kapustin buy the parcel from the Related Group for $4.37 million and sell it the same day to the college for $5.47 million. It had been slated for a condominium project.
» The state’s Office of Insurance Regulation took over Magnolia Insurance and its 100,275 policies. It was one of four insurance companies in Florida taken over last year.
» A group of private equity investors paid $16.7 million to purchase 80 units in the new Met One condo tower downtown.
» Boca Raton-based 1st United Bank took over the deposits of failed Republic Federal Bank after federal regulators shut Republic down.
» The Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel, which has an overdue $660-million construction loan, is being sued for more than $60 million in unpaid contractor bills, adding to its parent company’s woes, which include a bankrupt Fontainebleau Las Vegas project. The Miami Beach property reopened in late 2008 after being closed for renovation for nearly two years; that same year, Dubai World purchased 50% of the hotel.
» Jackson Health System is dropping contracts with outpatient dialysis centers to treat uninsured patients, leaving those patients with no coverage. In response, University of Miami Hospital, Baptist Health South Florida and Mercy Hospital say they will spend $100,000 to fund one month of treatment for about 40 patients who are not able to find alternative funding after Jackson drops them.
» The county paved the way for a 57,000-sq.-ft. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration lab in the Beacon Lakes industrial park by lifting its ban on storing or handling hazardous materials there. The development is outside the county’s urban development boundary and is in a protected area for drinking water sources. The 10 acres was recently sold for $9.95 million to the lab’s developers.
» Attorney Dan Paul, one of Miami-Dade’s most influential residents and a primary architect of the county charter, died in January at age 85. He had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Paul represented the National Audubon Society in its successful attempt to stop an Everglades jetport and played a key role in protecting open spaces from development, including downtown Miami’s Bicentennial Park.
» The Miami Dolphins will begin looking for funds to add a roof and other upgrades to Sun Life Stadium, which the team and the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee believe will be a requirement for hosting future Super Bowls.
» Real estate investment trust Equity One (NYSE-EQY) made an offer to take over Dutch-listed U.S. property investment company DIM Vastgoed. It already controls 75% of DIM.