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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Miami, Dade leaders reveal multibillion-dollar downtown plan

By LARRY LEBOWITZ AND MICHAEL VASQUEZ
Miami city and county leaders have forged a multibillion-dollar public-works bonanza that could alter the face of the downtown core -- affecting everything from a baseball stadium to a port tunnel to museums.

The plan, coming together with rare speed in the world of governmental red tape, envisions a holiday bounty of projects aimed at garnering support from constituencies ranging from sports fans to arts patrons.

Announced late Wednesday by Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, the deal would cover everything from a $914 million tunnel leading to the Port of Miami to finally transforming fallow Bicentennial Park into a waterfront jewel with new art and science museums.

By also shoring up the shaky finances at the fledgling Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, the plan's framework would free up additional tax monies that could be used to build a $525 million retractable-roof ballpark for the Florida Marlins.

''This is a great opportunity for all of us -- all of us -- to create an incredible legacy for the urban core,'' Diaz said following a long day of negotiating the multi-party pact -- and then selling it to individual commissioners.

While Diaz and others in the city embraced the so-called ''global'' agreement with the county, many questions remain.

One is whether a deal this complex can actually come to fruition. With so many parts forming the larger whole, it's possible that criticism of one piece of the blueprint could derail others.

Secondly, the intricate financing has been crafted in a way to sidestep a potential voter referendum -- which could embolden critics.

COMMISSIONS TO VOTE

Selling it is key, and the first test comes Thursday when Miami commissioners decide whether to move the multilayered plan forward.

County commissioners would then begin their review of key pieces of the ballpark financing and redevelopment plans Dec. 18.

The framework -- hashed out over several weeks of behind-the-scenes talks with city and county managers -- centers on expanding the Omni Community Redevelopment Agency to include Bicentennial Park and Watson Island.

CRAs are federally mandated special taxing districts that generate extra cash for areas targeted for revitalization. By aiming to expand the key Omni district, Miami leaders envision new infusions of money that would be doled out for multiple big-ticket projects.

The biggest beneficiaries of this new Omni CRA would be the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts and a proposed new ballpark for the Marlins at the soon-to-be-demolished Orange Bowl.

Diaz said the county would essentially receive up to $400 million in CRA revenue over the next 30 years to cover debt service on the arts center.

This will free up somewhere between $160 million and $200 million in tourist taxes from the PAC -- that the county and city could then use for the ballpark in Little Havana.

PARKING GARAGE

Less certain: whether the will, and the money, exist to build a 6,000-space parking garage and one of Diaz's personal projects -- a 25,000-seat soccer stadium also proposed for the 40-acre Orange Bowl site.

By expanding the CRA boundaries over the MacArthur Causeway to Watson Island, the city believes it can also use $50 million in CRA money to pay its share of the $914 million Port of Miami Tunnel over the next 35 years.

Florida transportation officials had vowed to move their $457 million share of the tunnel deal to other parts of the state if the city didn't put up its $50 million piece by Monday.

''I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, no pun intended,'' said City Commissioner Joe Sanchez, who represents the Orange Bowl area.

Miami property owners would also benefit from the expanded Omni CRA, city leaders say.

Diaz said the city would pay off its outstanding debt on the troubled Jungle Island construction loans from the expanded CRA instead of general revenues.

By expanding the boundaries into Bicentennial Park, the city would also use $68 million in new CRA revenue for the development of Museum Park -- including a planned underground parking garage. The CRA money would not be used to build the museums.

OVERTOWN IMPACT

Another question mark: whether city officials will be legally permitted to spin another $2 million a year out of the CRA to pay for ongoing capital improvements inside the park.

A second, more hard-pressed, special tax district would also benefit under the city-county pact.

The Southeast Overtown/Park West CRA, which generates considerably less revenue than the Omni, would be extended to year 2030 and its boundaries expanded to 20th Street on the north and Northwest Seventh Avenue on the west.

The city would spend up to $80 million for affordable housing, infrastructure, parks and job programs in the economically depressed Overtown neighborhood, and it would set aside $35 million for the city's struggling streetcar plan.

Diaz said Miami planned to adopt a pay-as-you-go approach when spending the CRA money on these big-ticket items over the next 30 years, rather than floating bonds to bankroll the projects.

The unstated reason: The projects wouldn't have to face voter approval.

In previous years, the city had contemplated issuing CRA bonds that could net perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars up front, to be used on large public-works projects.

But the Florida Supreme Court ruled in September that any bond issue local governments do with CRA money needs voter approval. Miami responded by abandoning its bond-issue plans.

This plan would sidestep those concerns.

DETAILS

As in every public project, the key is in the details, and literally hundreds of them still need to be hashed out.

First: Does Diaz have the three commission votes to pass the plan when the body meets this morning?

''God willing, [Thursday] we will approve possibly the most exciting -- largest, certainly -- package of projects in city history,'' Diaz said late Wednesday.

Commissioner Sanchez said of the ''global'' agreement: ``So far, it looks good. . . . It's a win-win situation for everybody.''

Herald staff writers Charles Rabin, Andres Viglucci and Matthew I. Pinzur contributed to this report.

 
Posted at 3:24:14 PM
 
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Updated: Thursday, July 18, 2019


A New HomeWithout Moving

What if there was some way to get that lsquo;new homersquo; buzz without the hassle? Well, of course there is, and thatrsquo;s why people spend time and money updating their homes.

Here are five ways to get yourself a new homehellip; without moving

  • 1. Extend

  • A lot of people move home because their current house is becoming a bit of a squeeze. Maybe children have come along or you now work from home. If you have the garden space, it can make financial sense to build an extension rather than find a new property. The key thing is to do the sums up front, set a budget and stick to it.

    The joy of an extension is that you have a new rooms to plan and >

  • 2. Update the kitchen

  • The kitchen has become the heart of the home, with many properties now featuring a large living space based around the kitchen. Whether or not your house will allow for a big space for cooking, dining and just hanging out, replacing your kitchen is a great option. It will renovate your house, add value and give you that lsquo;new homersquo; pleasure.

    Work with a kitchen planner to create a perfect layout, but donrsquo;t be afraid to shop around to get the update done at a price you like. Itrsquo;s often cheaper to buy appliances independently rather than through the kitchen specialist.

  • 3. Blitz the bathroom

  • Lots of us love staying in hotels and luxury apartments because of their opulent bathrooms. If this is you, think about bringing a boutique bathroom to your home. A new bathroom suite costs less than you think and will revolutionise how you feel about your bathroom. You could focus on updating your shower-bath or creating a luxurious walk-in shower, and then adding new tiles and flooring to suit your personal >

  • 4. Change the layout

  • If extending isnrsquo;t an option for you, you might look to knock down an internal wall to create a more spacious room ndash; a larger living room or an extended kitchen space. If your floor plan doesnrsquo;t give you that option, think laterally about changes you could make. Could you move to a different bedroom? Swap a dining space with a living room? Add an en-suite to your room? All of these options will give your home a new lease of life.

  • 5. Open up your loft

  • Our attics and lofts are nearly always wasted ndash; theyrsquo;re just dark, dusty storage areas. Making better use of this space will give you access to a whole new room. A master bedroom, an office, a den for the childrenhellip; You can either formally convert the space with dormer windows, or renovate it yourself. There are lots of great ideas here.

    So, with a little imagination you can achieve that happy new home without all that house-hunting, packing and spending. Enjoy your new property


    > Full Story

    Six Creative Ways to Drum up Interest in Your Home

    Organize a block party

    If you live in a neighborhood where everyone knows each other, fantastic Get everyone together on the street and offer to serve drinks or dessert in your house so you can make sure everyone comes on in. If yoursquo;re not super friendly with them, a block party is a great way to get to know the neighbors yoursquo;ll soon be leavingmdash;and maybe uncover someone whorsquo;s interesting in finding a new place in the same neighborhood.

    Have an estate sale

    A garage sale may attract mainly ultra-bargain shoppers, but an estate salehellip;thatrsquo;s another story. Not only do you have an opportunity to sell some of the items you donrsquo;t intend to take with you to your next home, but you may find a potential buyer, too. If you donrsquo;t have enough items to sell, enlist a few neighbors. They might be more than willing to haul over their old sideboard and china set for a chance to get it sold with minimal effort.

    Show off the goods

    Have a newly renovated kitchen you want to show off? Ninenbsp;out of 10 property purchases are decided by women, so invite the neighborhood moms over for wine and hors drsquo;oeuvres. You never know who will fall in love with your kitchen island and decide they need to move.

    Let your neighbors know on Nextdoor

    Depending on how your neighborhood Nextdoor is run, your post may be flagged and taken down. But, before that happens, you just might be able to zero in on a prospect or twomdash;before you even list your home for sale

    Rent a gaming truck

    For a couple hundred bucks, you can rent a gaming truck to park in your neighborhood. Invite all the moms to hang out inside with you, where they can ooh and ahh over your home while the kids are occupied and having fun in the truck.

    Ask your neighbors to put the word out

    Turning your neighbors into an extension of your real estate agentrsquo;s marketing team is easy. After all, they care about who their future neighbor will be, right?


    > Full Story

    10 Tips for Creating a Calmer, More Peaceful Home

    Add some greenery

    Studies have shown that plants can make your home feel calmer and ease anxiety. Plants like jasmine and English ivy can improve sleep, lavender and rosemary can lower stress, and several other plants have been shown to improve air quality so you breathe easier.

    Hide the electronics

    ldquo;Nobody wants to stare at a tangle of cords,rdquo; said Houzz. ldquo;Thankfully, we have more options than ever for keeping our tech devices hidden away. When possible, choose smaller, wi>

    Get a dog

    Or a cat, a bird, or a turtle, for that matter. Yes, having a pet can mean more noise and more mess. But, there are all kinds of studies that show that having a pet lowers stress. ldquo;Researchers found that pet-owning patients with high blood pressure could keep their blood pressure lower during times of mental stress than patients without pets,rdquo; said AnimalSmart.org. ldquo;Another study showsnbsp;that pet owners may also have increased odds of surviving for at least a year after having a heart attack.rdquo;

    Clear the clutter

    Going all Marie Kondo on your home can have surprising effects on your mental state. ldquo;Clutternbsp;can playnbsp;a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves,rdquo; said psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter innbsp;Psychology Today. ldquo;Messy homes andnbsp;work spacesnbsp;leave us feelingnbsp;anxious,nbsp;helpless, and overwhelmed.rdquo;

    Tone down the harsh colors

    Therersquo;s something to be said for going bold, but soft colors can bring on a calming feeling. If you want a deeper color, consider shades of blues and greensmdash;two colors that are known to be more serene than, say bright yellow, orange, or red.

    Clean up your entryway

    Itrsquo;s the first place guests see, and while you probably donrsquo;t pass by or through your front entry all that often if you park in the garage, it may not feel as welcoming as yoursquo;d like when you do.

    Soften the lighting

    Harsh overhead lighting can make you feel like yoursquo;re being interrogated, and can also be hard on your eyes. If you need to keep it because the space will be too dark otherwise, a dimmer can at least give you some control over just how bright it is, and allow you to create a mood with lower lighting as needed.

    Limit the patterns

    ldquo;Opt for solids and subtle patterns,rdquo; said Houzz.nbsp;ldquo;Busy patterns have their place, but if yoursquo;re aiming for calm, then solid fabrics are your friends. Donrsquo;t be afraid to include subtle patterns, though: herringbone, tone-on-tone stripes, and tiny dots can add textural interest without competing for attention.rdquo;

    Buy some fresh flowers

    According to a study by Rutgers, ldquo;The presence of flowers trigger happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction and affects social behavior in a positive way far beyond what was originally believed.rdquo;

    Make your master bedroom a zen zone

    Getting good rest is key, and there are several ways you can create a soothing space. Keeping the colors serene is key, and so is a good mattress. Loading the bed up with soft textures can also help. ldquo;The sensation of touch is often overlooked, but a powerful way to unwind,rdquo; said Mass.gov.


    > Full Story



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    1040 Biscayne Blvd Miami, FL 33132
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