Updated 6 yearss ago
To boost evening and weekend business, downtown Coral Gables is undergoing major streetscape improvements.The two most radical changes on Miracle Mile will be 23-footwide sidewalks that can accommodate outdoor dining (sidewalks are currently 15 feet wide) and parallel parking along the street instead of angle parking. There will also be gardens, landscaping, more trees, decorative lighting and better directional signs, along with a new drainage system.
The parking change is the most controversial, since it will mean 96 fewer spaces (out of 236) . Retailers — mostly locally owned stores — worry that customers who can’t easily park in front of their stores will go elsewhere.
The changes, which are expected to be complete within two years and also include a section of Giralda Avenue known as Restaurant Row, had been planned for more than a decade.The city of Coral Gables and its downtown property owners are splitting the $25-million cost.
The project has been spearheaded by the Business Improvement District of Coral Gables. The goal, says BID President Mindy McIlroy, an executive vice president with real estate firm Terranova, is to “create an environment that’s an all-day-long experience.” Terranova owns nine retail buildings on Miracle Mile, and the company’s tenants tell McIlroy that “the primary customer is the folks who are working here, not the folks who are living here.” she says. “Everybody feels that after streetscape, that’s going to change significantly.”
On Restaurant Row, the main change will be removing curbs from the streets to create a single, level span of street and sidewalk.That section of Giralda will be closed to cars on weekends, creating a pedestrian-only plaza that the BID hopes can expand its hours in the future. The city already closes Restaurant Row to cars for Giralda Under the Stars night, which typically attracts about 3,500 people.
On top of the streetscape changes, the BID is working to get the city to approve a new zoning overlay for the district. It will include smaller parcels of land, encourage residential units above retail space, make it easier to have outdoor seating at restaurants, extend business hours and more.
The city floated a bond to fund the work; benefiting BID property owners will pay for 50% of the cost through assessments over 20 years.
Winter occupancy took a dip in Miami-Dade, partly as a result of a 3.5% increase in the number of rooms from February 2015 to February 2016:
» Celebrity Cruises hired Peter Giorgi as chief marketing officer.He had been head of global advertising for Airbnb.
» Pan Am International Flight Academy hired Takeshi Negishi as president and CEO. He had been senior vice president of ANA Trading, owned by the academy’s parent company.
» Commercial real estate firm Saglo Development promoted Hue Chen from vice president of acquisitions to president.
CORAL GABLES — The Peruvian Consulate purchased a 15,875-sq.- ft. Building for $4.5 million to serve as its Miami headquarters.
CUBA — Air and sea shipping firm International Port became the first U.S. company to open an office with staff in Cuba; it is one of several companies that received operating licenses from the U.S. government.
DORAL — Carnival’s Fathom cultural exchange cruise ship became the first to sail from the U.S. to Cuba in more than 50 years. The company, which had U.S. government approval, received approval from the Cuban government to sail from Miami to ports in Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.
MARATHON — The city will get 177 new apartment units through the fall of 2017.
MIAMI — Miami Beckham United has purchased most of the private property it will need to build a Major League Soccer stadium in the city’s Overtown neighborhood. The $18.95-million land purchases represent two-thirds of the nine acres David Beckham and his partners need; the group will require county approval for the purchase of the rest of the land, which is government- owned. The Miami- Dade County Commission agreed to a $49-million bailout that will allow the Frost Science Museum to finish construction on its four-acre site downtown.The plan, which will use hotel taxes, increases by 30% the tax dollars going to the project. Construction had stalled as a result of a shortfall in donations.
City voters approved an agreement giving a 30-year lease to the developers of a proposed $30-million, 58,000-sq.-ft. project on the Miami River called Riverside Wharf that will include restaurants and entertainment venues.
Brickell Bank acquired a $40-million trade portfolio from New York-based INTL FCStone. Miami Dade College will launch the Miami Fashion Institute this fall, offering a two-year associate degree in fashion design and merchandising.
Beer made by Miamibased Concrete Beach Brewery will be served on the new Carnival Vista cruise ship.
MIAMI BEACH — Hyatt Hotels paid an undisclosed amount to purchase the 380-room Thompson Miami Beach hotel, which it will rebrand as The Confidante (part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt). New Yorkbased Orkila Capital and eMerge Americas founder Manny Medina led a new investment round in the eMerge Americas conference.Other investors included Armando “Pitbull” Christian Perez, baseball player Alex Rodriguez and businessmen Mike Fernandez, Brian Ballard and Bob Dickinson.
MIAMI-DADE — A new Lone Star Express sea cargo service between Asia and the U.S. will stop weekly at PortMiami. The service is run by the 2M Alliance, a partnership between Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping.