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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: Friday, June 22, 2018


The Inside Workings of Credit Scores

Consumers are encouraged to check their credit reports once per year. The primary reason for doing so is to make sure there arent any mistakes. Unfortunately, credit reports are prone to contain mistakes. Its not really the fault of the three main credit repositories, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion because all three are just a database. Whatever is reported to them is what you see. Further, someone with a similar name can show up on someone elses report. If youre not the only Bob Smith in town, this is certainly possible.

Someone elses poor credit might very well be showing up on your report which can directly damage your credit scores. When you find an error work with your loan officer to get it fixed. Your loan officer has working >

But have you ever wondered how these scores are calculated in the first place? They follow an algorithm first developed by The FICO Company years ago. For a while, credit scores werent the primary force behind a credit decision but over time the impact of a credit score became more and more important. Most every loan program available today has a minimum credit score and if a score falls below the minimum, theres some additional work that needs to be done to get those scores back on track.

There are five characteristics of your credit history that make up your three-digit score:nbsp; your payment history, account balances, how long youve had credit, the types of credit used and how often youve applied for new credit over the past couple of years.

Credit scores range from 300 to 850. Lets say a borrower has a credit score of 600 but needs a 620 to qualify for a particular loan program. Credit scores will improve much more quickly by paying attention to the two categories that have the greatest immediate impact on a score- payment history and account balances.

Payment history accounts for 35 percent of the total score and account balances 30 percent. When someone makes a payment more than 30 days past the due date, scores will fall. An occasional "late pay" wont really do much damage to a score but continued payments made more than 30, 60 or 90 days past the due date definitely will. By stopping the late payments scores will begin to recover.

Account balances compares outstanding loan balances with credit lines. If a credit card has a 10,000 credit line and there is a 3,300 balance, scores will actually improve. The ideal balance-to-limit is about one-third of the credit line. As the balance grows and approaches the limit, scores will begin to fall and fall even more should the account balance exceed the limit. This category contributes 30 percent to the total score.

The remaining three have >
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How To Improve The Accessibility Of Your Outdoor Living Area

Your outdoor living area can be a source of enjoyment when youre >

Here are a few tips to make your outdoor living area easier for everyone to enjoy.

1.Install ramps.

For people with mobility problems, even one or two steps can be difficult to navigate. A gradual sloping walkway or a ramp in place of steps can provide better access to an outdoor living space.

When building a ramp, refer to the American Disabilities Act Code for measurement guidelines. Even though private homes are not required to follow these requirements, theyll help you determine proper slope, length and width specifications. Ramps can be built with wood or metal. If you dont have access to a professional who can build a ramp for you, some pre-made ramps are available online. Add skid-resistant surfaces to the ramp with special paint, tape or rubber matting for added protection against falls or slipping.

The threshold entrance into the home can also pose a problem for people with mobility challenges. You can purchase small threshold ramps at local hardware stores. Ramps can be made to enhance, not detract from the look of your home and increase your resale value. Check out Pinterest for some great ideas.

2.Clear, repair, or replace pathways.

Does your yard have a sitting area outside where you like to spend time by yourself or enjoy the company of friends and family? Are sidewalks and paths in your yard in poor condition with cobblestone or pavers that shift over time, or trees and bushes that become overgrown? Consider hiring a landscaper to trim or replace trees or bushes. They can repair or replace materials on a walkway that are hazardous to navigate with a cane, crutches, walker, wheelchair or mobility scooter.

Think about replacing mulch, stepping stones and gravel with crushed limestone, as this can make pathways smoother. Or, have walks paved with asphalt or concrete. Good sidewalks and pathways are smooth, flat or gently sloping, free of clutter, and at least 4 feet wide to accommodate mobility aids.

3.Raise gardens.

Gardens provide benefits for young and old. Children learn the appreciation of seeing plants grown and bloom, and, according to a research study, daily gardening can reduce dementia by 36 percent in seniors. Whether youve maintained beautiful gardens for years or youre just now trying out your green thumb, you can create a garden thats within reach.

Making a few changes can help minimize bending and straining for people with back and joint discomfort. Think about reducing the size of your gardens and raising them up to a higher level. Ask family or friends if they will help you make gardens more accessible by building a raised bed garden. You can also try vertical gardens: Make them with t>

You and your whole family can benefit from keeping outdoor spaces accessible and well maintained. It could even increase the value of your home.

Jean Cherry, BSN, WCC, MBA is a former home health nurse who is passionate about helping those with mobility issues live a happy and healthy life>
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How To Channel Your Personality To Create The Perfect Home For You

Youre not boring, and your home shouldnt be either. But, you can obey all the design rules and end up with a place that looks like it came right out of a magazine but still lacks a little spark. Heres how to inject a little "you" into it.

Art

You dont have to have a house full of bold florals or abstract pieces just because thats whats "in" right now. But, it may feel like it if youve been browsing for art. Building an art collection with staying power means collecting items and >

"Think beyond which artists are hot or trendy," said Tze Chun, founder ofUprise Art, an online art gallery, to Corcoran. "The goal is to build a collection that can grow with you, so select artwork that speaks to you rather than whats popular at the moment. Art is a great investment because of the value it provides you everyday, by improving your living space and offering daily inspiration."

Furniture

It can be a little challenging to furnish a new space from scratch, especially if you dont want a matchy-matchy situation. But, ordering a furniture "set" can be tempting because it makes it so easy to fill up a room quickly. Doing so can result in a boring look, and can also lock you into one particular >


visaopanoramica.com

And then theres another reality that many people face: Trying to merge too many pieces and too many >Adding one great piece

Sometimes, all it takes it one great piece to create a memorable and mesmerizing space. Your grandmothers old sideboard? Paint it glossy black and showcase it in your dining room juxtaposed against your modern table. That Italian chandelier you fell in love with at the Flea Market? Hang it over the bathtub in your master. Unexpected touches that speak to you will always catch your eye when you walk into the room, make you feel like youre home, and become conversation pieces for visitors.

Personalized passions

No matter what youre into, be it gothic architecture or prehistoric fossils, there is a way to bring that passion into your home and showcase it in a way that creates interest but also makes you smile.

"A collection is a window into someones world. Each piece tells a story of who they are and where theyve been," said Barrons. Take a cue from three leading designers who offer recommendations for showcasing "cherished collections in >Check your Zodiac sign

If you can diet according to your Zodiac sign, you can decorate according to it, too. The idea is to tap into the main elements of your sign to connect to the colors, >Aquarians "gravitate toward inventive design with nostalgic pops," while Taurus "rooted earth sign" means theyre "drawn to natural, unpretentious materials likerustic woodand unpolished stone," said PureWow. And the hermit like Cancer is "all about maintaining a soothing, domestic shell, which makes you the prime candidate for the Scandinavian life>Choose color wisely

When you see a super chic home, it often has very little or no color on the walls. And the overwhelming mantra among designers, especially those who are staging a home, is to keep everything neutral. But you dont have to follow that rule, especially if youre just moving in or freshening up your place.


housebythewater.wordpress.com

"The introduction of colour into your home is the simplest and surest way to inject a little of your personality while creating a mood that is both interesting and enduring," said Domain. "You would be surprised at how effectively combinations of colour can direct your mood. For instance, greens and blues are typically very calming which is why you will often see a hospital saturated with these tones, and red is a much more emotionally intense colour that is known to increase cravings for food, making it a common colour used in kitchens and dining rooms."

If youre not ready to do all the walls, start with one; you might end up loving this feature wall, or it may inspire you to go ahead and paint a few more.

Paper it

Wallpaper has been enjoying a resurgence over the past few years, and so has the peel-and-stick version. This is one of our favorites things to use to inject personality into a room and make it feel dynamic, romantic, exoticor any other feeling youre going for. Because its removable and replaceable, its great for fickle design folks like us who want peacocks on the wall this month, banana leaves the next and then start thinking about how great that wall in the kitchen would look with peel-and-stick faux brick while were installing banana leaves in the living room.
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