Updated 5 yearss ago
Science, Finally A long-awaited museum opens downtown. Twenty years after it was conceived, five years after groundbreaking, after a series of legal, political and financial woes, the 250,000-sq.-ft. Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science have opened in Miami’s Museum Park.
Among the museum’s most popular exhibits: The three-level, 500,000-gallon suspended Gulf Stream Aquarium, which hosts sharks, rays and other fish. It can be viewed from above on an open-air deck or from below through a 31-foot-wide lens. The aquarium explores South Florida’s ecosystem ecology and marine biology. “I’ve never seen a fish tank anything like that size. It’s amazing,” says Timothy Houser, a local sixth grader who visited the museum.
The new museum’s planetarium is one of just 13 worldwide equipped with an advanced 8K projection system. Frank Steslow, a microbiologist who is the museum’s president, says it’s unusual to have a single museum that includes a planetarium, an aquarium, and a science museum.
The new facility replaces the much smaller Miami Science Center and Space Transit Planetarium, which in 2015 closed the Coconut Grove location it had occupied for 55 years.
There were plenty of bumps in the road: Contractors suspended work for a while when the Frost museum ran into financial issues — it hadn’t raised enough money to cover construction costs that reached about $305 million.
Both Phillip Frost and taxpayers stepped up to make the museum a reality. The Miami pharmaceutical entrepreneur, and his wife, Patricia, had given an initial $35-million gift to the museum. Amid the problems, they switched a $10-million loan guarantee to a gift, in exchange for the ability to replace most of the museum’s board members. Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County pumped in $205 million for the museum’s construction, some through a voter-approved bond offering.
“We were coming out of one of the biggest recessions, and the fact that the county still provided such funding is unprecedented,” Steslow says.
The museum will need to attract at least 725,000 visitors yearly to cover nearly $21 million in projected annual operating costs, including some 150 employees, officials say.
– Doreen Hemlock
CORAL GABLES — Medina Capital (whose managing partner, Manny Medina, founded eMerge Americas) launched Cyxtera, a cyber security firm and IT solutions company born from the its purchase of data centers and other businesses that had belonged to Century- Link. Cyxtera operates 57 data centers around the world. Medina is CEO of Cyxtera. The city became the first in Florida to ban the single-use carryout plastic bags in stores and at special events. Retailer fines will be delayed by a year.
DORAL — A federal judge issued the largest fine ever for intentional pollution by a vessel to Carnival’s Princess Cruise Lines, which will pay $40 million for dumping oilcontaminated waste off the coast of the United Kingdom.
HIALEAH GARDENS — Duke Realty paid $80 million for the recently completed Crossroads South and East industrial parks from an affiliate of Bridge Development Partners.
KEY LARGO — Developer Gorman & Associates opened the 42-unit Paradise Point, the Florida Keys’ only rentrestricted, affordable housing development for low-income seniors outside of Key West.
MIAMI — Coding school Ironhack will now teach courses in Paris, its third European location Car rental booking platform CarHopper has raised $1.5 million in seed capital. It used the money to expand its operations to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Its inventory consists of luxury cars. Real estate data and software development company Gridics raised $1.1 million in seed funding (bringing its total capital raised to more than $2 million). Gridics is developing an application for hyper-local market analysis. Ninety-year-old Coconut Grove Bank changed its name to Grove Bank & Trust.
Resorts World Miami, a unit of Malaysian casino giant Genting, signed a 90-year lease for space above the county’s Omni bus station, where it will develop a 36-story, 300-room hotel and a mixed-use development that integrates the bus terminal and the Adrienne Arsht Center Metromover station. Resorts World will also make about $22 million worth of upgrades to the existing transit infrastructure.
Portugal-based Banco Espirito Santo’s planned sale of its Miami-based holding company, Brickell Bank (formerly Espirito Santo Bank), to a Venezuelan family has fallen through. The bank has been under regulatory orders to be sold since European authorities seized Banco Espirito Santo in 2014. Boston- based Rockpoint Group paid a reported $155 million for a 27-story, 408,000-sq.- ft. offi ce tower in the Brickell neighborhood.
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY — The county commission approved a plan for a new cruise terminal at PortMiami for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, at a projected cost of about $100 million. Norwegian entered the Chinese market in June with the Norwegian Joy — a 3,850-passenger ship built specifically for Chinese travelers. It also began a partnership with China-based e-commerce giant Alibaba Group that will help it reach more Chinese customers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first human trials of an advanced prosthetic hand system developed at Florida International University. The neural-enabled system stimulates nerves in the arm to provide sensation and should allow a user to perform basic, everyday activities. Elon Musk’s concept for Hyperloop high-speed tube trains envisions a route in Florida that would connect PortMiami to Orlando International Airport in just 26 minutes.
NORTH MIAMI — With the help of a grant from Citi Foundation, Florida International University launched food business incubator StartUP FIU FOOD under the auspices of its Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
WEST MIAMI — U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban-American elected to Congress, will retire at the end of her term next year, after 38 years in elected office.