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A Singular Voice in an Evolving City


45,000 EMPLOYEES IN MIAMI-DADE WORK AT HOME AT LEAST HALF THE TIME, pg. 3 MIAMI PAY GAINS LEAD NATION: Compensation costs for private workers in Miami increased more than in any other major metropolitan area in the nation in the year ended June 30, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday. The rise was 3.7%. Wages and salaries alone rose even faster in Miami, up 3.9% in the period, also the most in the nation. In the same period a year earlier total compensation here rose 2.5% and wages and salaries alone rose 2.9%. Nationally, total compensation and wages and salaries each rose 2.4% in the past 12 months. The nearest gain to Miami’s in total compensation through June was New York at 3.3% and in wages and salaries Seattle at 3.6%. Lowest among the big metros in total compensation was Washington, DC, with a 1.9% gain and in wages and salaries Philadelphia at 2%, the bureau reported.

The Achiever

By John Charles Robbins

CONSTRUCTION REVERSAL: Non-residential construction starts in South Florida nearly tripled in value in June from June 2016, according to figures compiled by Dodge Data & Analytics. The strong increase pushed total construction start value for the month up 58% in the tri-county area even while the value of residential starts was declining 10%. After long dominance of residential construction over non-residential, so far this year non-residential has forged ahead of a slowing residential growth. Non-residential so far this year has been 54% of total construction starts in the area. For the first six months of the year, residential starts in the area were down 26% while non-residential was up 55%, giving the area a total gain of 3% in construction start value for the first six months, according to the figures from Dodge. LEFTOVER CITY DOLLARS: The City of Miami is expecting a budget surplus when the current fiscal year of 2016-2017 ends Sept. 30. Christopher Rose, Office of Management and Budget director, reported to city commissioners that his office is projecting a net surplus of about $27 million for the year. The city’s general fund budget is nearly $670 million. Mr. Rose said four departments are over budget to date: building, city clerk, grants administration and fire-rescue. VENEZUELA’S GAS IMPACT: Unrest in Venezuela is contributing to rising gasoline prices in Miami, as prices have risen 6.2 cents a gallon in the week ended Sunday, according to GasBuddy price tracking service. The Miami average was up to $2.29 per gallon, a bit below the national average of $2.31, the service said. “The rise in oil has come due to unrest and concern over the political outlook in Venezuela, a major supplier of crude oil to the US, due as well to Saudi Arabia’s export cut to six million barrels per day,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst. The price of gasoline in Miami was 4.2 cents a gallon higher than a year earlier.

Photo by Cristina Sullivan

Joe Natoli

Takes his broad leadership record to Baptist Health role The profile is on Page 4

50 uses floated for restored city marine stadium By John Charles Robbins

A restored Miami Marine Stadium could host Jet Ski competitions, beauty pageants and much more, says a report on the future of the Virginia Key venue that R.J. Heisenbottle Architects submitted to the Miami City Commission last week. Richard J. Heisenbottle said his team and a dozen consultants assembled more than 50 potential uses for the waterfront stadium, thanks in large part to community input. The report lists five categories of potential uses: marine; sports and fitness; community; education and nature; and entertainment. The city hired the firm in January for architectural and engineering work related to the long-awaited restoration of the vintage 1963 stadium, which the city closed in 1992 in the wake of Hurricane Andrew. The report to commissioners detailed the four parts of Phase I. “The challenge of Part A was to answer the primary question at hand. Can the Marine Stadium be successfully restored into a safe structure capable of serving the community’s cultural,

5 waterfront votes trickle down to one

sporting and entertainment needs for decades to come?” Mr. Heisenbottle said. “After having completed extensive evaluation and analysis, I am pleased to say that the answer to the question is an emphatic yes. Moreover, we have identified techniques for cathodic protection of the structure that if properly maintained will allow us to substantially extend the stadium’s lifespan,” he said. “The challenge of Part B was to answer the second most important question at hand. Beyond the building’s original uses, what sort of new uses would the public like to see the stadium used for and what program areas and equipment are necessary to support those potential uses?” Mr. Heisenbottle said. He said they broadened the vision to more than 50 types of events including power boat races, sailing regattas, hydroplane races, Ironman competitions, paddle boarding, Red Bull air races, kayaking, drone races, boxing and wrestling, religious events like Easter sunrise services, graduations, artificial reefs, sun bathing, yoga, summer camp, Ted Talks, art festivals, concerts, TV shows, and aquatic shows choreographed with music and lights.

Mr. Heisenbottle said, “We have gone a step further and test fitted these spaces within the existing stadium and floating stage to assure ourselves of the program’s viability... We are confident that the result will be a restored Marine Stadium that is current with entertainment trends throughout the country and that the restored stadium will exceed the expectations of both those who perform in the venue and the patrons who enjoy them.” The report estimates a probable construction cost of $40,323,361. “We’re excited,” said Commissioner Francis Suarez. Restoration will make the stadium “premiere space” and help make Miami “an event destination,” Mr. Suarez said. Commissioner Ken Russell said stadium restoration is “a dream come true.” Commissioners approved of staff and Mr. Heisenbottle nominating Marine Stadium for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Hilario Candela, original architect of the stadium who is working with the Heisenbottle firm, told commissioners “It’s wonderful to see my baby… back again.”

Of several possible leases tied to City of Miami-owned waterfront, only one is headed to the Nov. 7 ballot – Monty’s commercial site in Coconut Grove. Several other lease extensions and proposed leases didn’t make it. The city charter requires that voters approve any sale or lease of city-owned waterfront. On July 27 commissioners approved ballot language to extend the Aligned Bayshore Marina LLC (Monty’s) lease 52 years, for the greater of added minimum rent of $10 million or 1.75% of gross rent; $7.5 million of capital improvements; a minimum $4 million capital account; and transfer and refinancing fees. These proposals haven’t been approved for the ballot: Hyatt Regency and Knight Convention Center, 400 SE Second Ave. Ongoing negotiations between the city and Hyatt Equities LLC involve the hotel site and abutting convention center, and a garage that’s the base of a privately-owned tower across the street. Commissioner Ken Russell is pushing for a master plan for the riverfront site. Jungle Island on Watson Island. The city leases the land to ESJ JI Leasehold LLC for its tropical park. Commissioners are considering extending the lease 39 years, conditioned on higher rent and other factors and a proposed 130-foot-tall hotel. Commissioners were told July 27 that the developer needs more time for community outreach. Miami Riverside Center, 444 SW Second Ave. The city plans to sell or lease the site, home to its riverfront office tower, after moving into a new administration building. The city is negotiating with Lancelot Miami River LLC, which plans to build an office building for the city elsewhere and build residential towers called Nexus Riverside Central on the river land. Marinas on Virginia Key to replace Rickenbacker Marina, under lease with the city, and the Marine Stadium Marina. The latest request for proposals is incomplete.





















The Insider UM EXPANDS AIRLINE ARCHIVE FLEET: After ceasing operations in 1991, Eastern Airlines has finally flown home to Miami and will be sharing space at the University of Miami Special Collections Library with the Pan American World Airways archives. Edward Vernon Rickenbacker led the mail carrier and used it to help promote Florida as a tourist and business destination, moving the headquarters to Miami and employing over 12,000 Floridians, making Eastern the leading airline of Florida. The Eastern Airlines Archive has some precious cargo that is landing at the library: tens of thousands of photographs, business records, labor files, print and video advertisements and even flight attendants’ uniforms. “This collection is a microcosm of the worlds of business, public relations, advertising, fashion, technological advancements – all through the fascinating lens of the aviation industry,” said Cristina Favretto, head of Special Collections. PLAYHOUSE PUT OFF AGAIN: A scheduled showdown between county officials and historic preservationists over the fate of the Coconut Grove Playhouse has been put off for at least three months. Miami city commissioners on July 27 – the last meeting before the August break – voted to defer the issue until Oct. 26. On June 22 it had been deferred to the July 27 meeting. Commissioners were to hear an appeal of the Historic and Environmental Preservation Board’s April 4 decision granting a special certificate of ap- A 31-story residential tower is to be attached to Miami Parking Authority’s Counthouse Center Garage. propriateness for the partial demolition of the structure, the reconstruction of a theater, and construction of a public parking garage with residential units at the historic site known as the Coconut Grove Playhouse. The state owns the theater and leases it to Miami-Dade County. OFFICE BUYS IN SUBURBS: Investors buying office space in MiamiDade will be looking to suburbs farther from the center of the market this year but won’t find as many properties for sale as there is demand, according to a market report from Marcus & Millichap. Investors in the past year were most active in Kendall and Northeast Dade, the firm said, but the value of deals fell 13% because too few desirable properties were listed for sale. While the metro market had an average office vacancy of 12.7% during the first quarter of this year, the firm said, vacancies were less than 1% in West Miami, 5.4% on Coral Way, 5.6% in the City of Miami, 8.8% in the MedleyHialeah area and 9.8% in Kendall. Class properties in the past year sold at $390 per square foot, Class B at $266 and Class C at $212. APARTMENTS BALLOON: Apartment leasing activity in South Florida has jumped dramatically in the past year, with 5,986 newly occupied units, five times the number absorbed during the previous year, according to Berkadia, a joint venture of Berkshire Hathaway and Leucadia National Corp. But rents, which had been rising since 2013, began to level off in recent months, the company said, “as a post-recession high of 10,576 new apartment units were delivered over the last four quarters.” Occupancy hovered near 95%. Construction is underway on 68 new apartment properties, the firm said, which are expected to bring 18,500 new units into the rental pool by the end of 2019. FIU PRESIDENT TO LEAD NETWORK: Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg has been named chair of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, a commission to assist public urban research universities and their communities. Part of the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities, the group aims to leverage the intellectual capital and economic power of urban universities. SERVING THOSE WHO SERVED: The Miami City Commission has approved a two-year extension of Mark Rosenberg the local disabled Veterans’ Workforce Pilot Program, through Aug. 31, 2019, to provide an opportunity for disabled veterans to be employed through city contracts to perform services through establishment of a workforce minimum percentage goal requirement for the hiring of local disabled veterans. The program was established in July 2015. The pilot program commenced with the award of the janitorial services contract, which included a minimum local disabled veterans workforce participation requirement of 5%. Both firms that were awarded the city’s contract, Carlos Rosario Cleaning Services Corp. and Able Business Services Inc., have made a concerted effort to obtain and retain disabled veterans as the program requires, documents say. NOTICE: WATER, SEWER WORK: Miami-Dade’s Infrastructure and Utilities Committee last week gave preliminary approval to electronic publication of projects being done by the Water and Sewer Department. This would authorize the “transparency report” to be published on the Water and Sewer Department’s home page ( water/) instead of submitting paper reports for commission agendas. The ordinance, sponsored by Barbara Jordan, states it would benefit the department’s customers. The transparency report would be available to all stakeholders in the Water and Sewer Department’s Barbara Jordan Capital Improvement Program each month by the second Monday and would be sent to each county commission district office. The change is subject to a full county commission vote. Details: www.miamidade. gov/govaction/matter.asp?matter=162926&file=true&yearFolder=Y2016 CITIZENS PANEL: The Miami-Dade Independent Community Panel Working group will hold its next meeting from 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 10 in Room 18-3 at the Stephen P. Clark Center, 111 NW First St. The group is a citizens’ panel that reviews and holds public meetings about complaints or grievances made against law enforcement, an employee or agency of Miami-Dade. Details: (305) 375-5730, MORE MONEY FOR MEDIAN: Miami city commissioners have added money to a contract for median landscaping and maintenance. Commissioners agreed to increase the contract capacity for the Coral Way Median Landscaping and Maintenance Contract with Florida Lawn Services Inc. from $165,495 to $296,465 for the contract’s current term year. This will allow for the current maintenance contractor to replace about 12,000 shrubs along the Coral Way roadway medians. District 4 Commissioner Francis Suarez requested the change. Francis Suarez

Public-private deal to bring housing and parking to a commercial district By John Charles Robbins

Final details have been worked out on a planned public-private partnership set to bring multifamily apartments and retail development to downtown Miami. Grand Station Partners LLC plans to build a 31-story residential tower attached to the Miami Parking Authority’s Courthouse Center Garage at 40 NW Third St. It was the authority’s decision to redevelop the vacant land it owns next to its 11-story flagship garage that led to the project. The city’s Urban Development Review Board recently recommended approval of the project. The new building is to have a pedestal of new parking with about 376 spaces, tied into the existing garage. The new building will have about 5,000 square feet of ground floor retail uses. Opened in 2010, the multi-level Courthouse Center Garage has upper and lower office space and some ground floor retail. The largest office use in the building is by the parking agency itself, which takes up about 10,000 square feet on the top floor. The authority calls the vacant lot next door Parcel B – not to be confused with the county’s Parcel B on the bayfront. The undeveloped site at 240 N Miami Ave, has grass, sidewalks and small trees. Authority CEO Art Noriega told the review board the garage was built in 2007-2008, with an eye toward developing Parcel B later. “When we developed our garage we designed it for future expansion, to the east on Parcel B,” he said. Once the real estate market bounced back, the authority looked at the public benefit of added parking plus residential uses for downtown, Mr. Noriega told the board. Once All Aboard Florida announced its plan for Brightline passenger rail service, and the MiamiCentral project, “we saw this as our opportunity to create critical mass,” he said, with the additional benefit of an infill project filling in the urban grid. “Our board is excited about the project,” Mr. Noriega said of the Off-Street Parking Board and the Grand Station Partners project.

Grand Station Partners is requesting several waivers for the project, including lot coverage of 88%, above a cap of 80%; substituting a commercial loading berth for two residential berths; smaller setbacks; a 10% reduction of driveway width, and others. Speaking on behalf of the developer, attorney Iris Escarra detailed the plans for the interconnection with the existing garage. Not only is the project a publicprivate partnership with parking authority, but it is a joint venture of two architectural firms: Zyzcovich Architects and Frances Anillo Toledo LLC. A major factor in the Grand Station Partners’ project is an agreement with the next door property owner, developer Moishe Mana, who owns the land south of Parcel B, explained Ms. Escarra. Litigation filed by Mr. Mana was settled among the three parties this year. A key to the accord is a sublease of air rights, or the space above the new parking levels. On Feb. 1 the parking board approved a sublease between Grand Station Partners LLC and Mr. Mana’s North Miami Ave Realty LLC, and an amendment to a ground lease the authority has with Grand Station, which includes consent to the sublease. The sublease encourages the developers to work together to build out the east side of a city block. Ms. Escarra told the design review board about Mr. Mana’s involvement and said the projects share an architect. “There is a lot of coordination and harmony,” she said. An architect with the Zyzcovich firm told the review board the overall plan is to bring residential units to a mostly commercial district and provide additional public parking. The lease between the parking authority and Grand Station Partners spells out the main gain for the authority: a six-level expansion of its garage, adding about 350 parking spaces. An additional 26 spaces will be devoted to the new building. The existing garage has 840 spaces. The sublease says Mr. Mana’s company intends to build a high-rise mixed-use tower on its

neighboring site with groundfloor retail, a 150-room hotel with ancillary support, offices and residential. Part of the project will extend above the Grand Station garage “by either using a cantilever method which would not change or impact Sublandlord’s original plan for this portion of the parking garage… or designing a building with structural elements which will rely upon certain components of the parking garage for support and foundation…,” the sublease says. Design review board members asked about a planned amenity deck with a swimming pool for the Grand Station Partners’ project. Board member Gerald Martson said, “Given all of the articulation of the building, the patterns … it looks like somebody forgot to design the amenity deck.” He said more development of the deck plan was needed. “I would have liked to have seen more glass,” said acting Chairman Dean Lewis. A condition of recommending approval is that the developer considers other treatments for the façade on the west elevation. The site is about a block from MiamiCentral, now under construction, with its promise of high speed passenger trains.

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45,000 employees in county work at home at least half time By Marilyn Bowden

Flexible job schedules that include options to work away from the office are gaining in popularity in Miami-Dade, according to a new study of US workforce trends released Global Workplace Analytics. The report, commissioned by FlexJobs, relies on an analysis of the most recent available government data. “In 2015, says Kate Lister, Global Workplace Analytics president, “3.1% – or 45,000 employees – in Miami-Dade worked at home half time or more, not including the self-employed. “The number of workers who considered home their primary place of work grew by 40% between 2010 and 2015. This compares to total workforce growth of just 15%.” Christine Barney, CEO of rbb Commnications, says since 2001 her firm has been offering employees three options: customized start and end times, telecommuting full- or part-time and pre-approved telecommuting on a spot or project basis. “Five years ago,” she says, “about 80% of our employees used one of those three options. Today it’s nearly 100%” – the sole exception being the receptionist, who needs to be on the premises during regular business hours. “Everyone else sets their own start and end times, driven by client needs.” The benefits, she says, are many. “Employees appreciate the freedom to adjust their schedules as needed,” Ms. Barney says. “They want to be able to decide when and where they work – and also which of our offices to work from, Fort Lauderdale or Miami. “Our clients are happier because of the improved efficiency. And it’s easier for me as manager, because I don’t want to spend all my time

Photo by Marlene Quaroni

The work-at-home culture also leaves a stamp on the office design of AXS Law, says Jeremy Ben-David.

policing. That time can be better spent growing the business.” Working away from the office doesn’t suit everyone. “I definitely am one of those people who prefers to be in the office,” Ms. Barney says. “But I often work nights and weekends.” Flexible employee options at Morrison Brown Argiz & Farra began two years ago, says COO Ileana Salort-Horta. The company, an accounting and business consulting firm, employs about 600 in offices around the US and in India – nearly 400 work in South Florida. Experienced employees are offered two options, Ms. SalortHorta says: a compressed schedule that allows them to work four-day weeks with longer hours or a flexible schedule of seven-and-a-half hour days, but with customized start and end times. Because of the nature of the business, she says, these options are available only after the busy seasons – which are slightly different for tax specialists than they

Some who have tried the compressed schedule have opted out, she says, and there are people who prefer not to work from home. One is Wolfgang Pinther, the company’s director of marketing. “I only work from home if I’m working on a project where I really need to focus,” he says. “But everyone is productive in different ways, and people really appreciate having the freedom to change schedules for a short period of time.” Mr. Pinther heads a department of six – one based in Fort Lauderdale, one in New York, two in Coral Gables and two in India – so telecommuting is the norm. “For example,” he says, “the hours in India are of course quite different. When our US team members are just starting work ‘It’s easier for me as it’s already evening there. So we manager, because I don’t schedule team meetings on Skype thing in the morning. We also want to spend all my time first use screen-sharing abilities. Techpolicing.’ nology really helps us to work as Christine Barney a team.” AXS Law Group, which opened last November in Wynwood, gives are for auditors “We also have several people who work at home,” Ms. SalortHorta says. “Most are auditors, but some CPAs do as well, though not during their first year or so. Usually they are working moms.”

innovative work habits high priority, says Founding Partner Jeremy Ben-David. “We chose this market because it is cool, funky, different,” he says. “We wanted to have a more relaxed culture. We don’t have a formal dress code or minimum billable hours. We work off laptops and are treated as professionals. “There’s no requirement to be in the office at a certain time. Calls can be forwarded to cellphones.Almost anything we need to do can be done remotely. We might need to come in for meetings, but in terms of being a good lawyer, being out in the community and knowing your fellow citizens is crucial. Being tethered to a desk does not really benefit a lawyer.” What works for lawyers doesn’t extend to supporting staffers, Mr. Ben-David says, who for the most part need to be in the office. AXS Law’s laissez-faire culture, he says, has left its stamp on office design. “We have an open floor plan,” he says, “so while we have dedicated desks, they’re separated only by clear dividers. In the center are couches and tables that foster collaboration amongst lawyers. We can’t walk in, close the door to an office and never see anyone all day.” The building where AXS is located, Mr. Ben-David says, will soon have an open rooftop furnished with couches, work stations, tables and chairs – “and we’ll be up there working on our laptops.” Global Workplace Analytics estimates about 56% of jobs in Miami-Dade are “amenable to telework-commuting,” Ms. Lister says, “and national surveys show 85% of employees want to work from home, especially Millennials. If they did just two days a week, they could avoid almost 3 billion vehicle-miles traveled and over 200 million trips a year in the MiamiDade metro area.”








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Why does our approved affordable housing take so long? A report issued quietly Friday should startle anyone who cares about MiamiDade’s future. In that report, Mayor Carlos Giménez details affordable housing completions and lists projects stuck Michael Lewis in the pipeline from April 1 to June 30. It shows that the county provided financial aid to exactly one completed affordable housing development in the three months totaling 84 rental units at a cost from county funds of $1.75 million. That’s it, a total addition of 84 units in three months. While that trails recent quarters, which averaged 120 units, it’s not terribly far behind – it’s just terribly far behind this community’s need. By way of perspective, the 92-story One Bayfront Plaza downtown, which just cleared another hurdle for approval, would add upscale housing equal to a three-year output of affordable housing. Which do we need more? As the business and civic communities call for more affordable housing for a growing population with a large bulge at

the lower end of the income scale, county government has been working to provide that housing – and indeed has nearly $128 million from six funding sources available right now, money committed to 42 housing projects promising 4,613 needed affordable housing units. The problem is, there’s always a long line of such funded projects in the pipeline that take an even longer time to get out and into use. Each of the mayor’s affordable housing reports has shown 40-some projects pending and at most one or two projects finished each quarter. At that pace, the 40-some projects will flow out over a 10-year period – 400 to 500 units yearly. That pace is pitifully slow. It’s not like this county is uniformly well-to-do. While the world sees us as a magnet for the super-wealthy and Art Basel shows off that crowd every year to reinforce the image, for every person who shops at the luxury Design District, 1,000 can’t and probably hundreds need affordable housing. The United Way’s study of hardship this year makes it clear: 21% of our households are in poverty, 37% more are asset-limited, income-constrained but employed, and only 42% are above both levels. That’s 179,084 households at or below poverty and 400 or so new housing units for them coming on line

each year with county aid – a bit more than one new unit yearly for each 5,000 poverty-level families. Even for those 314,401 households above the poverty line, the United Way report says the mid-range group, the income-constrained, can spend on housing only $745 a month for a single adult or $1,162 for a family of four with two small children. And all we pump out with county aid is 400 or so affordable units yearly. Even worse is that public reports linked 12 named developers of affordable housing who have county contracts with a federal investigation whose purpose has yet to be disclosed. While that probing might never convict anyone of anything – and might not even result in a single charge – it’s sure to deter those 12 developers and others from dealing with the county. The concern is that developers who are pure as the driven snow will shun county-funded affordable housing and that those with projects in the pipeline now – we see names from the reported probe list – may be slowed on alreadyapproved housing that we sorely need quickly. Progress reports on seven projects on the mayor’s list include something like “Developer is waiting for cost certification to be able to submit for final pay-

ment.” Is it likely that costs will be easily certified when a federal investigation is pending over exactly what are legitimate costs? Expect even further delays and longer red tape. Affordable housing is complex. Projects that come with government funding and aid come with many hurdles. And government itself is obligated to maximize the value of public monies. We don’t question safeguards. What we question is why even with full safeguards more housing is not being produced and occupied by those who need it most. If we were talking about luxury apartments and condos we’d be talking about additions of housing 50 or so times as large as we provide in affordable housing – in boom years more than 50 times. Our question to the mayor and commissioners: why are 40-some projects with nearly 5,000 needed units backlogged all the time? What can be done today to speed the flow? Equally important: what steps should the county be taking to be certain that whatever federal investigation really hangs over our heads doesn’t block the pipeline? The mayor has offered a solid report of where we stand. The next report needs to tell us what the county is going to do – and do now – to get more affordable housing to those who most need it.

US healthcare ranked lower than in most developed nations One thing I haven’t heard much in this latest healthcare debate is that the US has the best health system in the world. That’s different from the last two times around. When the nation debated the Clinton Trudy Lieberman health plan in 1994 and the Affordable Care Act in 2009-2010, a huge talking point for politicians and special business interests opposed to reform was “The American system is so good, why change it?” It’s different this year. Maybe that’s because the public realizes America doesn’t have the best, and their own interactions with what American healthcare has become tell them a different story. The old talking point doesn’t compute any more. Of course, we’ve all had some good experiences. And we generally continue to believe that the money we spend on super-expensive technology and medicines equates to good care even though evidence shows those costly interventions may not deliver as advertised and actually may be harmful. However, taken as a whole and measured on several dimensions, including access to care, administrative efficiency, equity, and health outcomes, the US compares poorly relative to other industrialized countries. In its latest study comparing the US with 10 other countries – the United Kingdom, Australia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Canada and France – the US ranks dead last. This is the sixth time since 2004 that The Commonwealth Fund has done such a survey.

The Writer

Trudy Lieberman, a journalist for more than 40 years, is a contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review She is also a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health. She has had a long career at Consumer Reports specializing in insurance, health care and health care financing. Contact her at “Each time we have managed to be last,” says Eric Schneider, a senior vice president of the fund. I’ve been writing about these surveys since they began, but this time the findings really grabbed my attention, especially this: In the US, 44% of people with incomes below the median – about $55,700 in 2015 – reported that the cost of care prevented them from getting medical treatment they needed. Twenty-six percent of those with incomes above the median also said financial barriers prevent them from getting care. That means that the high deductibles and high coinsurance that most health plans now require makes it hard to pay for care. By contrast in the UK only 7% of people with low incomes and only 4% of those with higher incomes said they had trouble getting care. Yes, that’s England, the nation whose National Health Service has been much maligned byAmerican politicians over the years. In this latest survey, the UK ranked number one overall and was judged the best when it came to equity and the process of care – preventive care, safe care, coordinated care and patient preferences – and third when it came to access. People in Britain seem to be doing OK despite all those queues for services Americans have heard about.

When it came to equity, access to care and health outcomes, the US ranked last, which also challenges the common assumption that we have the best care in the world. The US has given a lot of attention to healthcare over the past decade, and the positive changes made by theAffordable CareAct have substantially decreased the number of uninsured and provided generous subsidies to help them buy coverage. I would have expected our rankings to improve. I asked Mr. Schneider about that. He explained that the lack of universal coverage is a barrier and the cost of care is still too high for too many Americans, even if they have insurance. Families with incomes in the middle ranges of eligibility for ACA subsidies – incomes of around $60,000 or $70,000 – get small subsidies and face high deductibles and other cost-sharing, a tradeoff they must make if they can afford only plans with low premiums. Our complicated system of getting medical bills paid and the endless negotiations between providers and insurers – in other words, the administrative hassle – is also a huge drawback. Fifty-four percent of US primary care doctors said insurance restrictions made it hard to get needed treatment for their patients, Mr. Schneider said. “That’s a big problem.”

L etters

to the

E ditor

Tunnel vision downtown

Great idea to look at the Hyatt site as a tunnel staging area, but we need that tunnel yesterday. Unless the Hyatt is willing to tear down its hotel now, the future looks even more distant for Brickell traffic relief. Hopefully there is a Plan B that gives the city more freedom on beginning the tunneling project on its own, with or without the Hyatt’s involvement. DC Copeland

The UK, Australia, and New Zealand shine on this dimension. Mr. Schneider said that if the US changed the way it pays providers, used fee schedules and global budgets – an amount a country, group or hospital decides it will spend on care – the public would benefit. Just as important, Mr. Schneider told me, was the lack of US investment in primary care compared to other countries where primary care is more widely and uniformly available. They dedicate a greater percentage of their medical workforce to that kind of care rather than specialty care. The US favors expensive specialists. So does the US do well on anything? Although we ranked last on overall health outcomes such as life expectancy at age 60, there were bright spots such as breast cancer survival and fewer hospital deaths for heart attacks and stroke. Those few achievements are simply not good enough. FOUNDED JUNE 2, 1983 VOLUME XXXV No. 10 ENTIRE CONTENTS © 2017

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Miami commission splinters but OKs public vote on bonds By John Charles Robbins

A plan to issue general obligation bonds to raise money for major capital projects in the City of Miami again stirred acrimony at City Hall, as a similar measure did last year. The 2016 attempt was rejected entirely by city commissioners, two of whom complained of not being consulted on district needs. This time around the commission passed a resolution July 27 placing a $400 million bond proposal on the Nov. 7 ballot, but the vote split the body 3 to 2. Commission Chairman Keon Hardemon, Vice Chairman Ken Russell and Commissioner Wifredo “Willy” Gort voted for the bonding. Frank Carollo and Francis Suarez voted against it. Mr. Suarez complained that cost estimates for possible projects varied wildly and that the process could do with more community involvement and input. “What is the rush? That’s what I don’t get,” said Mr. Suarez.

Mr. Carollo was upset by a proposed spending list from the City Manager’s Office that had no allocations for projects in Little Havana, the heart of his district. “This is horrific for Little Havana,” said Mr. Carollo with a raised voice. The largest chunk of the proposal, nearly $192 million, would go to sea level rise mitigation and flood prevention projects. Mr. Russell, along with Mayor Tomás Regalado and the city’s Chief Resilience Officer Jane Gilbert, lobbied hard for money to deal with climate change challenges. “It is happening now… this is urgent,” Mr. Russell said. “We cannot ignore it. We must rise to meet sea level rise now. We must do this, in order for us to be the city of the future and not the city of yesterday.” The final proposal from Mayor Regalado and the city administration set these amounts for the Miami Forever General Obligation Bond project categories: Sea level rise mitigation and flood prevention $191,962,000; parks and cultural facilities $58.2 million;

roadway improvements $22,838,000; workforce housing $20 million; and public safety $7 million. The grand total was $300 million. In the end, the commission made affordable housing a higher priority. Sea level rise and the challenges it poses are important, said Mr. Hardemon, but Miami has a greater immediate need for affordable housing, especially for low-income residents and seniors. Mr. Hardemon suggested changing the category called “workforce housing” to “affordable housing and economic development.” Mr. Hardemon was also successful in offering an amendment that approved an additional $100 million: $80 million to be added to the affordable housing and economic development category, for a total of $100 million, and adding $20 million to parks and cultural facilities. Mr. Hardemon warned that not all neighborhoods are worried about sea level rise. “It’s not their community concern,” he said. But many people are worried about losing

Art by Najee Dorsey of Columbus, GA, is among works that may be seen at the Art Africa Miami Art Fair.

their homes or finding a place to live, he said. He suggested making the bond proposal more palatable, “offering something about hope,” and ways in which neighborhoods can be strengthened. “That is humungous: keeping people in their homes,” Mr. Hardemon said. “We should do what we can to make conditions better for them… shift our focus a little bit,” he added. Mr. Hardemon said he’s tired of hearing about Miami being the tale of two cities. “This is our opportunity to do something about that,” he said. During the long discussion, Mr. Gort indicated he might be a “no” vote. But Mr. Russell kept up his hard sell of the bond proposal. “This is for our children” Mr. Russell said. Eventually, Mr. Gort announced: “I’ll vote for it – let the people decide.” If the voters approve, the decisions on exactly what projects will be funded will come later and are to be guided by a bond oversight committee.

Art by Anthony Burks mixes colored pencils, watercolor, pen and ink.

Redevelopment agency funds Art Africa Miami Art Fair By Catherine Lackner

In their efforts to solidify Overtown’s position as a hub for history and the arts, directors of the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community RedevelopmentAgency (CRA) voted unanimously to grant The Urban Collective $175,000 for this year’sArtAfrica MiamiArts Fair during Art Basel. Frank Carollo and Ken Russell, both city commissioners and CRAdirectors, were absent from Monday’s meeting. “Art Basel is one of the largest annual cultural exhibitions of contemporary art,” said a memo by Clarence E. Woods III, CRAexecutive director, to agency directors. “Leading art galleries from NorthAmerica, LatinAmerica, Europe, Asia, and Africa showcase art work from renowned modern and contemporary artist, as well as emerging artists.” This is the seventh year The Urban Collective has hosted the exhibition, which “will feature fine artwork of contemporary artists

from the GlobalAfrican Diaspora,” said a letter from Neil Hall, the collective’s president and CEO, to Mr. Woods. The exhibition will begin Dec. 4 with a VIP opening night reception, will open to the public Dec. 5 and will continue though Dec. 10, his letter said. “We want to pay homage to the centrality of Africa’s artistic contribution to the modern world and to brand art from the Miami black art community as a significant attraction during Art Basel Miami,” Mr. Hall’s letter continued. The Urban Collective, he wrote, will house a number of galleries to create “a centralized space to house the art of this region during Art Basel.” For the second year, the fair will occupy the first and second floors of the historic Clyde Killens Pool Hall at 920 NW Second Ave., the letter said. “We are expanding the 2017 showcase from four to seven days to accommodate

interest and outreach from not only North America, but also the Caribbean, Africa, South America and Europe,” Mr. Hall’s letter said. The group also plans to program the green space directly north of the Clyde Killens building. “This space will accommodate a series of outdoor large-scale totems and pop-up containers, with a curated selection of art-related vendors,” the letter said. “It is our belief that historic Overtown, as the bygone epicenter of black arts and culture, must continue to be the destination for this yearly celebration of the very best cultural capital emanating from theAfrican Diaspora,” the letter continued, describing the fair as “a first-class event bridging historic Overtown’s swinging past with its elegant future. “By advancing both local and global African, African-American and Afro-Caribbean artists, Art Africa Miami has created a wider audience and broadened the scope of opportunities available to the artists, galleries and

local small businesses that participate,” Mr. Hall’s letter said. “We seek each year to transform, educate and enlighten the international community to the depth and breadth of art emanating from our local black community, providing artists from the Diaspora a chance to leave their distinct mark on Art Basel and the international art clientele which it attracts.” “The Art Africa Music Arts Fair attracts visitors from around the globe to view a multidisciplinary exhibition of fine contemporary art,” said a letter last year from Keon Hardemon, Miami commissioner and CRA chair, to Mr. Hall and The Urban Collective, which he said “has helped to provide an amazing platform for artists throughout the African Diaspora during theArt Basel season. “Events like this remind participants of the rich history of blacks in Miami,” his letter continued. “I trust you will create an unforgettable experience.”

Redevelopment agency ratchets up funds for legal counsel By Catherine Lackner

By unanimously supporting a $300,000 expenditure, directors of the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) agreed to bump up the amount allocated for outside legal counsel. Frank Carollo and Ken Russell, both city commissioners and CRA directors, were absent from the Monday meeting.

“Given the degree and complexity of pending initiatives and projects within the redevelopment area, the CRA will have occasional need for the provision of certain legal services,” said a memo from Clarence E. Woods III, CRA executive director, to the agency’s board. “Thus, the CRA has issued a request for qualifications for transactional attorneys in order to develop a pool of attorneys

to provide legal services to the agency on an as-needed basis.” “This expenditure seems higher than normal,” said Francis Suarez, Miami commissioner and CRA director. “Normally, it’s around $200,000, but we’ve exhausted our funding from last year,” Mr. Woods said. “It doesn’t mean it will all be spent.” Keon Hardemon, Miami commis-

sioner and CRA chair, asked whether the expenditure would give the agency more flexibility in the outside counsel it could hire. “Yes,” Mr. Woods said. “We want to create a list, and then a short list of four firms, to handle our special legal services.” Responses to the request for qualifications are due Aug. 22, he added.





More than 3,000 residences approved for Doral’s future By Catherine Lackner

With more than 3,000 new residential units and nearly 300,000 square feet of retail space approved or in the pipeline, Doral is sure to hold its place as one of the country’s fastest-growing cities. Perhaps the most significant project is Downtown Doral South, which will occupy a 130-acre parcel east of Northwest 87th Avenue and north of Northwest 41st Street, said Julian Perez, director of the city’s Planning & Zoning Department. Buildout is set for 2020. “The overall development program for Downtown Doral South consists of up to 2,209 residential dwelling units; 30,000 square feet of retail and commercial use; and 150,000 square feet of office space,” he said. In addition, up to 7 acres has been set aside for a school, performing and visual arts auditorium, and civic uses; and nearly 8 acres will be public recreational land, he said. The school is being built to accommodate 1,300 students in grades 6-12. “Downtown Doral South has

Townhomes under construction in Downtown Doral. Downtown Doral South is to add 2,209 dwellings.

been designed to extend and enhance the design elements that are already being implemented in Downtown Doral,” Mr. Perez said. “Together Downtown Doral and Downtown Doral South will help the city create a continuous downtown urban core.” An office park at 3900 NW 79th Ave. and an adjoining restaurant at

7905 NW 36th St. will be redeveloped as Atrium, which will include 350 residential units and 81,271 square feet of retail. Doral 4200 will add 250 housing units and will occupy a parcel on Northwest 41st Street between Northwest 107th and 109th avenues. Sanctuary, a mixed-use project at Northwest 41st Street and

Northwest 94th Avenue by Shoma Homes, has been approved for 226 residential units and 26,942 square feet of retail. Grand Doral I and II, which will occupy a 10-acre tract on Northwest 82nd Street between Northwest 82nd and 112th avenues, is to include 195 residential units and 11,771 square feet of retail space.

Doral Park Plaza, at 8395 NW 53rd St., will add 7,580 square feet of retail; Baywood, at 8001 NW 36th St., will include 6,500 square feet of retail. Landmark South, at 6055 NW 105th Court, is in the design phase but is expected to incorporate 60,000 square feet of retail. Under site plan review are retail projects being planned by Doral 87th LLC (48,375 square feet at Northwest 87th Avenue and Northwest 58th Street) and 97 Property LLC, which plans to add 37,845 square feet at Northwest 97th Avenue and Northwest 58th Street. Healthcare facilities include Doral Medical Plaza, a six-story medical office building at 10305 NW 58th St., and Jackson West, a 275,000-square-foot medical complex at 7800 NW 29th St. On the municipal side, the city has built Doral Legacy Park, set to open this month, and plans to add several other parks and a new police station. The only category that has seen no action is the office sector. No purpose-built office buildings are on the horizon, Mr. Perez said.

Unrest in Venezuela alters market strategies for Century By Gabi Maspons

Political and economic unrest in Venezuela are altering market strategies for developers in Doral. As Century Homebuilders Group moves forward on its two major projects in Doral – Midtown Doral and Mansions at Doral – it is shaking up the previous model to accommodate a new type of buyer. “When we began the project in 2012, the rate was about 30 to 40 bolívars per dollar; today, it’s about 10,000,” said Sergio Pino, president and founder of Century Homebuilders Group. “Any developer in Doral will tell you that primarily Venezuelans live there and will pay more to be there. At one point, when they all had a lot of money, they wanted everything big – big balconies, big rooms and big kitchens. The smallest units in [phase one of] Midtown Doral cost about $350,000,” Mr. Pino said. “Now, the local market can’t afford those prices, so we’re going to lower them,” he said. “We’ll have nice units that are smaller and more affordable.” The four-phase Midtown Doral development, a mixed-use residential community facing Northwest 107th Avenue between 74th and 90th streets, is wrapping up phase one and in the planning process for phase two, Mr. Pino said. “Everything connects; the idea was to create a walkway where you have small shops, small businesses and residential communities,” Mr. Pino said. Of the 537 units in phase one of the Midtown Doral development only about 30 units remain to be sold, Mr. Pino said. “We’re in the planning process for phase two, which we hope to launch before the end of the year,” he said. “I strongly believe that phase

Photo by Cristina Sullivan

“We’re in the planning process for phase two, which we hope to launch” this year, said Sergio Pino.

Midtown Doral is wrapping up phase one and planning the next step.

two will move a lot faster than phase one because of the price point. We are already putting people on waiting lists because they want the units we’re offering at $219,000,” Mr. Pino said. Many of the units in phase one were sold to Venezuelans as investments or second homes. Now that the Venezuelan economy is down, Mr. Pino says it’s time to make the units in phase

two more affordable for the local population: “90% of people that work in Doral live somewhere else, so we’re going to market to them,” he said. “Prices are too high; in other communities I sell units that are bigger for half the price.” “The Venezuelans drove up the prices in the City of Doral because the demand for housing

was far higher than the units available. Land prices went up and the people who wanted to be there were willing to pay up to $400 a foot; we created a market the locals could not afford,” Mr. Pino said. According to Mr. Pino, over 90% of the Midtown Doral units have been sold to Venezuelan buyers, but now that’s all going to change. “They’re not buying anymore or moving here because they’re already here. Every community is making changes to gear to the local market. In fact, everything else out of Century is a local market,” Mr. Pino said. Phase two is to have 518 units, with units – and prices – smaller than phase one. There will be two buildings with 259 units each, a clubhouse and an office building. “We’re talking to the Hilton hotel chain and doing studies. We believe that a hotel component will fit perfectly. It will have 120 to 130 hotel rooms,” he said.

Phase three is to have another 500 units, with retail space at the bottom, Mr. Pino said. “We can always make changes; zoning is very liberal. Depending on the market, we will make different decisions,” he said. For now, phase four is planned for 240,000 square feet of office space, Mr. Pino said. Midtown Doral is to be completed by 2021 with 1,547 condo units, 220 workforce homes, two office buildings, 300,000 square feet of retail, a hotel and a clubhouse, Mr. Pino said. Century Homebuilders Group is also changing its approach in its second major joint venture, Mansions at Doral. Mansions at Doral is marketed as “ultra-luxury modern single-family homes” at 6805 NW 107th Ave. “All of the houses begin at $1.5 million, and we have three homes for over $2 million – it’s not for everybody,” Mr. Pino said. About 45 of the 66 homes have been sold, and 100% of the buyers have been Venezuelan, Mr. Pino said. Century Homebuilders Group has about eight floor plans for the semi-custom homes and will add any features that are permitted, Mr. Pino said. “We usually don’t do the last set of finishings because the customers have their own tastes,” he said. However, to sell the remaining homes, Century Homebuilders is completing about four ready-to-sell homes to have them available to the families who don’t want to wait seven or eight months to move in, Mr. Pino said. “Worst case scenario, it will be another two years,” he said. “It’s a beautiful community with a lake and a state of the art clubhouse. I think we’ll sell them.”





Downtown Doral graduates from realty project to city core By Gabi Maspons

If you ask Ana Codina Barlick, CEO of Codina Partners, the biggest challenge she faces in developing Downtown Doral is finding a comprehensive way to describe its magnitude. “It’s not a project at all anymore; it’s the downtown of a major municipality of MiamiDade,” Ms. Codina Barlick said. Codina Partners, real estate investment and development firm behind Downtown Doral, first developed the space as a 120-acre suburban office park. It then added 130 acres when Codina acquired the White Course, a golf course directly south of the original space, with Lennar. The current plans for Downtown Doral outline over a million square feet of office space, 250,000 feet of retail space, well over 5,000 units of varying sized residential spaces, a Publix, and free education from kindergarten through high school, Ms. Codina Barlick said. “With every component of Downtown Doral launched, the development is evolving at the rate of a city,” Ms. Codina Barlick said. “In the residential sector we have a lot of units and we’re moving forward with various product types,” Ms. Codina Barlick said. When completed, Downtown Doral will have single-family homes, multi-family homes and condominiums. Codina Partners currently has two complete condo projects in the area: 5252 Paseo with 203 units and 5300 Paseo with 219 units, which are completely sold out. “The next condo, 5350 Park, will break ground over the next few months, and we estimate that the building will be completed in 2019. It’s already 50% sold

The Shops at Downtown Doral. A second phase begun in July will add about 50,000 square feet of shops.

out,” Ms. Codina Barlick said. When Codina Partners and Lennar purchased the golf course, they split the land 50/50. CC homes, Codina’s homebuilding affiliate, is to construct various single-family homes in its space to make up the Residences at Doral. The Residences are to have six residential collections that buyers can choose from. “We’re doing the infrastructure work right now, and we’re in pre-construction sales,” Ms. Codina Barlick said. “Lennar has not started to sell their product just yet.” “We’re trying to focus on single-family homes in particular right now because the amenities at Downtown Doral appeal to permanent residents,” Ms. Codina Barlick said. “We received a lot of feedback during the condo building process that people want more

‘Is a downtown ever really finished?’ Ana Codina Barlick single-family homes. They want luxury living in an urban center.” Like the residential sector, the retail sector in Downtown Doral has a big project up ahead. “We just broke ground in July on the second phase of retail shops that will add about 50,000

square feet of retail shops to the already existing 80,000 square feet of space,” Ms. Codina Barlick said. Codina is in the process of leasing the new space. When Codina Partners purchased the original property, it was a 32-building office park. To build out Downtown Doral, Codina demolished all but the four newest office buildings, now referred to as their legacy buildings. With all of the additional components growing, Codina Partners has not forgotten where Downtown Doral came from, and is planning on extending the original office space further. Five office buildings are on site and three more are on the way, Ms. Codina Barlick said. “Then we built 8333 Downtown, and we are adding three additional office sites. One should break ground sometime

next year,” Ms. Codina Barlick said. Downtown Doral was created with the whole family in mind, and the elementary charter school, Downtown Doral Charter Elementary is just the first phase in the educational component of the mini-city. “The residents receive enrollment preference, and it is the ultimate amenity for families to have access to a quality curriculum,” Ms. Codina Barlick said. “We are planning on breaking ground on a middle and high school early next year that would take the curriculum from kindergarten through high school graduation,” Ms. Codina Barlick said. Ms. Codina Barlick heads the board of the charter elementary school and hopes to continue its short, but strong, commitment to excellence. “After opening the doors to our charter elementary school in 2015, we are one of the top five public charter schools in Miami-Dade County,” she said. The elementary school has about 900 students and grades 6-12 will accommodate an additional 1,300 students. Asked about the timeline for the development, Ms. Codina Barlick replied, “Is a downtown ever really finished?”. “Our current plans extend another five years or so, but it will always be evolving,” she said. “We’re really focused on the local market and we believe this is the best value proposition in Miami-Dade County right now for a single-family home,” Ms. Codina Barlick said. “We’re selling brand new homes for the same price as a home that needs a lot of work in Pinecrest. There’s excellent education at no cost to the family, and everything is a walk or bike ride away.”

With supply scarce, Doral offices are 91% full, prices rising By Catherine Lackner

With scarce supply and no new product in the pipeline, the Doral office market continues to be robust, observers say. “Institutional capital now accepts that Doral is a mature, exciting and deep market, and one they want to be in,” said Doug Okun, senior vice president at CREC. “It’s become a first-class city.” The new residential stock “is a driver,” he said, as are the ever-increasing amenities, including retail, schools, restaurants and infrastructure. Most buildings offer plentiful parking, which is not the case in urban markets or even some suburban markets, he said. With about a 91% occupancy, pressure is being put on lease prices and concessions are becoming rarer, he said. Space in a class A building can fetch $40 per square foot, “which was hard to image five or 10 years ago,” Mr. Okun said. Class B space leases in the high $20s or low $30s per square foot, he said. Most developers consider

Codina Partners built 8333 Downtown and has three more office buildings on the way in a tight market.

mixed-use projects or residential units to be the highest and best use for their land, he said. That, combined with high construction costs, suggest that the dearth of new office buildings will continue, further driving

up demand for existing space. “I remain bullish on the Doral office market,” Mr. Okun said. “I think it will continue to get better, and almost every data point supports that.” “We are witnessing Doral

become more of an urbanized environment,” said Ericka Witkowski, associate with Avison Young. “The ‘live-work-play’ play dynamic, in addition to the already acclaimed economic benefits of leasing in

Doral, is really creating the ideal ambience that attracts major corporate headquarters. That will continue to grow this submarket. Doral continues to be one of the most sought-after markets in South Florida, which is attested to by a less-than-9% vacancy rate.” “County-wide year-to-date leasing activity remains up 6% year-on-year, driven to a notable degree by non-CBD submarkets that had been unsettlingly quiet through 2016,” said JLL’s second-quarter 2017 office market report. One of the larger deals inked that quarter was the Everest Business Funding lease of 27,000 square feet in Downtown Doral, the report noted, but, on the whole, transactions were smaller. JLL lumps Doral into the Miami Airport submarket, where rents overall are $30 per square foot and vacancy is 9%, according to the report. Class A space in that submarket can be had for $33 per square foot (and the vacancy rate is 8%), while class B space leases for $27 per square foot and the vacancy rate is 11%, the report said.






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Miami Today: Week of Thursday, August 3, 2017  

Special section on Doral. Just a preview of some of our top stories this week. Includes editorial page. To subscribe, visit www.miamitodayne...

Miami Today: Week of Thursday, August 3, 2017  

Special section on Doral. Just a preview of some of our top stories this week. Includes editorial page. To subscribe, visit www.miamitodayne...