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International links: Andromeda sees green in its vertical gardens

Cvi.che 105 purchased Andromeda's vertical garden for its South Beach location.

Andromeda District started out selling fiberglass plant holders made in Mexico. Now, it designs entire systems for vertical gardens, or “living walls,” and installs them in hotels, restaurants and homes. Long term, it aims to produce do-it-yourself kits for vertical gardens, made in the U.S. and sold worldwide.

The Doral-based family business is emblematic of one kind of company gaining ground in Miami-Dade County: A small venture started by immigrants that builds on international links, appeals to upscale clients and hopes one day to go global.

Launched by a Honduran family in 2010 and led by Miami-born Jonathan Taylor, Andromeda first designed plant holders and sourced them in Mexico, where Taylor’s engineer brother lives. The company sold the containers to retail stores in south Florida. Then, Taylor saw potential in expanding sales to landscape architects who might seek systems for vertical gardens.

Working with U.S. partners, he came up with a panel-based system that automatically drips water into potted plants twice a day, based on simple sprinklers and a programmable timer. Andromeda now designs the panels in-house, has a contract manufacturer that makes them in Mexico, buys plants from south Florida growers and installs the vertical garden systems for about $100 per square foot. It also provides initial maintenance and follow-up visits, which are usually needed once a year and cost $200 to $800. Andromeda guarantees the panels for 20 years and can reconfigure them into new designs.

The company made nearly $1 million in south Florida during 2016. Customers include Miami-Dade County, restaurant Cvi.che 105 and landscape architecture firm David O. Design of Coconut Grove. David O. has deployed Andromeda’s walls in the Marriott Stanton South Beach hotel, apartment building The Cosmopolitan and luxury homes.

Andromeda is investing more than $100,000 into automation to try to produce its panels in Miami-Dade, although labor and other costs are higher in the U.S.

— Doreen Hemlock

Business Briefs

CORAL GABLES — Catalyst Pharmaceuticals’ phase 3 clinical trials of a medication to treat effects of a rare autoimmune disorder called Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome showed the medication had “clinically significant” effects.

NP International is set to begin construction on a mixed-use project across the street from the University of Miami. Called Paseo de la Riviera, the 2.7-acre site will include a 240-room hotel, 200 apartments, restaurants, retail and a parking deck.

KEYS — The $10-million reconstruction of Key West International Airport’s only runway is underway.

KEY BISCAYNE — Federal prosecutors charged the CEO and COO of Providence Holdings International in a $150-million fraud case, alleging the executives promised investors to invest their money in Brazilian factoring (purchasing accounts receivable at a discount) but kept the funds for other uses.

MIAMI — Miami voters elected Francis Suarez as mayor, replacing Tomás Regalado, who was barred from running by term limits. Suarez was a city commissioner. Former Miami Mayor Joe Carollo was elected to the Miami City Commission after 16 years out of elected office. Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberté and his company, Lune Rouge, became a “creative and capital” partner in the Magic City Innovation District project in the Little Haiti neighborhood, which will include residential units, office space, a business incubator, retail and a performance space. Laliberté joins Tony Cho of Miami-based Metro 1 real estate, Bob Zangrillo of California venture capital firm Dragon Global and Miami-based developer Plaza Equity Partners. Laliberté also purchased three new warehouses in the neighborhood — totaling 19,000 square feet — for $6.9 million; Lune Rouge will use them for office and storage space. The non-profit foundation funded by the Miamibased Fairholme mutual fund, Fairholme Unlimited, will develop a building to showcase two massive sculptures by Richard Serra and James Turrell, along with other permanent and rotating conceptual art pieces, in the city’s Edgewater neighborhood. Italian fashion, art and design school Istituto Marangoni opened its 10th location, its first in the U.S., in the city’s Design District. Developers are now allowed to build units as small as 275 square feet, down from 400 square feet, in Transit Oriented Development areas.

Gluten-free organic cookie and baking mix company Ginnybakes shut down and declared bankruptcy.

MIAMI-DADE — Miami International Airport CEO Emilio González resigned. The resignation followed a move by the county to directly over-see concessions, retail leasing and procurement at Miami International Airport, taking that authority from the airport.

The Coral Gables City Commission voted to direct $15 million in impact fees to the proposed Underline park under the county’s Metrorail elevated transit system. The project needs another $15 million to reach the $100 million needed for construction, and the non-profit Friends of the Underline plans to break ground near the end of this year.

Players

  • Nick Miceli was promoted to TD Bank’s regional president for Florida. He had been the bank’s New Jersey commercial market president.
  • Hospital Corp. of America promoted Lee B. Chaykin to CEO of Aventura Hospital and Medical Center. He had been vice president of business development at HCA’S east Florida division office.

Innovation Energy Boost

As a culinary student, Ashanty Williams loved to exercise but couldn’t find a quality, tasty snack to give her a boost after workouts. She started creating her own and began sharing them at the gym that she helped manage in South Miami. Lauren Feingold, a chef and gym member, tried one of the snacks in 2012 and was hooked. Their venture, Shanti Bar, was born.

Today, the co-founders manufacture their organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan and kosher bars in a small, FDA-approved factory in south Miami-Dade, selling to Bed Bath & Beyond, Whole Foods and other outlets.

Williams, 33, and Feingold, 32, are working with natural foods distributor UNFI to sell across the East Coast.

— Doreen Hemlock

 

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