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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: Wednesday, September 26, 2018


What Not to Leave in Your Garage During Extreme Weather

Any kind of extreme weather could bring potential damage to your garage. Fortunately, a lot of the risks they present are preventable mdash; although a recent Esurance survey found that only 25 percent of homeowners proactively prepare for damaging weather events. Donrsquo;t get caught unprepared. Whether itrsquo;s triple-digit heat, below freezing cold, hurricane seasons or drought-induced wildfires, itrsquo;s best to prep your garage ahead of time to minimize your safety risks.

From fire hazards to burst pipes, herersquo;s how to prepare your garage for extreme weather.

Extreme Heat and Wildfires

Propane tanks
Propane tanks should never be stored indoors in the first place, but they are a particularly big risk in extreme temperatures as they begin >

Do this instead: Store propane tanks outdoors, about 10 feet away from the house and out of the sun. Make sure theyrsquo;re painted in a color that reflects light. If theyrsquo;ve been left in the sun and you worry that theyrsquo;ve gotten too hot, hose them down.

Oil-stained rags
It might seem obvious, but oil-stained rags have been known to cause house fires mdash; even if theyrsquo;ve been through the wash. When the temperature in your garage rises to extremes, they can spontaneously combust. If a wildfire breaks out, they pose a substantial risk for fueling the flames and even causing small explosions.

Do this instead: Dispose of heavily used oil-soaked rags and replace them. Wash gently used rags a few times before storing them in a covered metal can.

Aerosol cans
Eighty percent of aerosol cans mdash; even ones filled with hairspray and the like mdash; contain 3 to 5 ounces of butane or propane. When temperatures reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit, they can explode, sending bits of metal shrapnel through the air, or they can become propelled like rockets, capable of causing serious injury or damage.

Do this instead: Store aerosol cans in the garage only if the temperature is between 55 and 80 degrees.

Snow/Ice Storms and Extreme Cold

Aluminum cans
Carbonated beverages are temperamental, and they can be dangerous at freezing temps. Beverages like soda and beer freeze at around 15-20 degrees. Once frozen, the carbon dioxide separates from the water and pressurizes, becoming especially dangerous if handled or opened, potentially bursting and sending the top of the can flying.

Do this instead: Keep your canned, carbonated beverages in a refrigerator or cabinet in the house, where they wonrsquo;t freeze.

Glass bottles
Similar to aluminum cans, water-filled glass bottles can shatter in the cold, regardless of whether or not the liquid is carbonated. Thatrsquo;s because water expands as it begins to freeze. It can wreak similar havoc on your pipes.

Do this instead: Store your glass beverage containers in the house along with the aluminum cans.

Exposed pipes
As water gets colder and colder, it begins to expand, putting extra pressure on pipes. Regardless of the strength and material of the pipes, they will eventually burst under the pressure.

Do this instead: Let water drip from your faucets. Moving water helps prevent freezing. You can also insulate your exposed pipes to prevent them from freezing. Conventional foam insulation is easy to slip over existing pipes with a bit of tape. You can also go with the self-sealing variety, but you may want to leave the spray foam insulation to the pros.

Hurricanes and Windstorms

Generators
Anticipating the power going out? Make sure yoursquo;re not running your generator inside mdash; even in your garage. Generators produce large amounts of carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in contained, unventilated spaces.

Do this instead: Set your generator up outside mdash; at least 10 feet from your house mdash; to ensure proper ventilation.

Open doors and windows
It might go without saying, but open windows or doors in your garage invite tons of messy debris during a hurricane mdash; not to mention the potential damage to your car and other belongings.

Do this instead: Double-check that your garage door is closed and any and all windows are shut and locked before the storm makes its way in. Consider installing storm windows or shutters to the exterior of the garage to add extra protection against high winds and heavy rains.

Important Documents and Sentimental Items
With an increased risk for flooding and water damage, make sure you remove any important files or boxes with sentimental items before the storm hits.

Do this instead: Move any at-risk items safely indoors and store them in an interior room for the duration of the storm.

Are you prepared for extreme weather? Protect your family and your home by inspecting your garage to prevent unsafely storing potentially dangerous items in a weather emergency.


Eric Brandt has more than 25 years experience in the insurance industry. Eric currently serves as Chief Customer Advocate for Esurance, where he leads the customer experience, including claims fulfillment. Prior to joining Esurance, Eric led customer-centered transformations in the areas of claims, risk management and >
> Full Story

Has Your Marketing Content Become Stale?

Does your marketing receive regular complete overhauls? Or, do time
pressures only allow for the periodic makeover of one or two content
sections? On the other hand, you may simply rearrange existing content
with little more than headline changes. Or, do your marketing efforts
fall somewhere in between? Regardless of the approach you take, why are
you confident your marketing content and strategies resonate with your
select target market?

Answer this on-point ldquo;YES or NOrdquo; Quick Quiz to clarify where you
stand regarding content creation:

1. Is there really anything new to say about buying and selling real estate?nbsp;YES/NO

2. Is there anything that buyers and sellers havenrsquo;t heard already?nbsp;YES/NO

3. Is there truly something different about the way you, as a real
estate professional, work with real estate prospects, buyers, and sellers?nbsp;YES/NO

Real estate professionals who want to create magnetic, engaging real
estate content for their target market must answer each of these three
key questions above with a resounding ldquo;YES.rdquo;

Professionals who answer one or all of the questions above with ldquo;NOrdquo;
will not only produce stale content, but they may also find other
aspects of their practice and their productivity lacking

1. If real estate professionals cannot continually see ldquo;newrdquo;
perspectives in buying and selling real estate, how can they stay fresh
and eager enough on a daily basis to attract prospects and retain clients?

2. Professionals who donrsquo;t believe there is a lot that buyers and
sellers will benefit from hearing about real estate, may not radiate
enthusiasm and, as a result, may not be as productive or resourceful as
necessary to build a sustainable practice and achieve long-term
financial goals for themselves and their clients.

3. A professional, who does not clearly see how to uniquely serve the
niche of buyers and/or sellers this professional wants to zero in on,
cannot expect target prospects and clients to see any difference between
this professional and the rest of the real estate ldquo;pack.rdquo;

Fresh, target->
deep, accurate knowledge on many levels, but always from the targetrsquo;s
point of view.

Are you in the right frame of mind to create great content for the
buyers and sellers you aim to serve? Professionals who decide to hire
custom content developers or to buy stock content, must also know
exactly what targets need and why.

bull; How do you measure the effectiveness of your marketing
content? Buyers and sellers expect their selected real estate
professionals to continually prove and improve their value. Marketing
content, in any format or on any social media platform, must meet the
same target value demands. How do you measure ROI Return on
Investment on your marketing efforts, for you and your clients?

bull; How regularly do you update your Brand Profile? Fresh,
engaging language, concepts, and offers are essential to keep your brand
uppermost in the minds of target buyers and sellers. Donrsquo;t follow
your competition into trends-lead your targets.

bull; Have you recently updated the selected target buyer and
seller profiles or personas you concentrate your business efforts
on? Do your target profiles and content on each social media
platform synch up, but remain distinct and in keeping with each specific
platform? Is your content an engaging, thought-provoking mirror of
target issues?

bull; What process and systems do you use to efficiently recycle
and refresh content across selected social and traditional media? Do
you have a documented marketing strategy that transforms blog posts into
email newsletters, then into YouTube videos and interactive webinars, or
whatever media your targets prefer? What criteria do you use to
decide when to employ your own content creation skills and when to hire
proven expertise?

As well as consistently improving content development, professionals
benefit from becoming progressively more sophisticated, more refined,
more elegant in their communication techniques, approaches, and
outcomes.

Herersquo;s an example of clever email content that lets target clients
convince themselves of the value of the content developer, while quickly
and simply revealing what targets are doing right and what more they can
do for themselves. A lot is packed into one 7-page, graphic-rich
publication. Does it inspire you to tackle something similar to reveal
your value while giving your targets opportunities to measure their
ability to be excellent buyers or sellers working in their own best
interest?

New-York-based content developer, Contently, recently
produced ldquo;The Contently Content Maturity Modelrdquo; as email
marketing content.
Disclaimer: Although I have met some Contently staff, I do not have a
working >mine.

bull; The Model reveals how, as Strategy, Technology, and
Process improve, this leads to ldquo;significant improvements in efficiency,
data use, and collection, and alignment across teams.rdquo;
bull; The checklist of ldquo;major attributes that represent your maturity
at each [of four] phasesrdquo; reveals what you donrsquo;t do and should when it
comes to content development, and what Contently does for their
clients.
bull; The strong sales pitch is in plain sight. Does it seem balanced
by valuable content to you? If not, you may not be the selected target.

Resource:
For more, visit PJ Wadersquo;s ldquo;Whatrsquo;s Your Point?rdquo; blog.


> Full Story

5 Tips for Economically Renovating Your Home

In 2017, homeowners spent an average of 15,000 on house renovations. However, you need to take each step carefully if yoursquo;re on a tight budget. Letrsquo;s walk you through some simple tips to remodel your home economically:

1. Begin by cleaning up

As soon as the idea of home renovation pops in your mind, you need to hold your horses. This is because any design pointers that come to your brain at this point will be hazy. Thanks to the clutter, you cannot develop a crystal clear idea of what you want.

If you canrsquo;t do that, you canrsquo;t budget realistically. It details the very purpose of renovating your home reasonably. Therefore, start by cleaning your place thoroughly. Declutter and clear out what you donrsquo;t need.

Chances are that cleaning your space and rearranging the furniture can help you redesign your entire house. If your house is in good shape, only cleaning and moving things around can work to give your house a new look. If not, then this DIY project will help you visualize the home remodel that you want.

2. Set a realistic home renovation budget

Business Insider revealed that 61 of us donrsquo;t have a budget, but that wonrsquo;t work if you aim to renovate your house on a shoestring budget. You need a budget, and while you are at it, you need a realistic budget.

This means that if you put yourself in utopia and estimate fairytale costs, you wonrsquo;t be able to get anywhere with your home renovation plans. Hence, you need a fair estimate of what renovations you want in your house.

For instance, if you plan to spruce up your existing backyard, then you need to research the rough estimate of getting done all that yoursquo;ve in your mind. On average, Landscaping Network reports that a budget of 25,000 is typically dedicated to backyard renovation. A good contractor such as Terra Nova Landscaping can help you figure out the costs as per the revamps you want.

3. Decide what you want in advance

Budgeting means there is no room for a change of heart at the last minute. You also donrsquo;t get to be picky, saying that a certain color doesnrsquo;t look the way you anticipated it to, because such double-mindedness quickly adds to the costs.

The simple way to nip this unwelcome evil in the bud is to plan beforehand. Browse through the internet or flip through interior design magazines to get an idea of what yoursquo;re looking for. Turn Pinterest upside down if you have to while rooting around renovation ideas and trends, but do it before you seal the deal with your contractor.

Once you have a blueprint of what you want in your mind, yoursquo;ll be better able to map out your budget. Plus, you can save your money from going down the drain by saving yourself from buying things on impulse.

4. Get a black and white paint palette

You know that you need your home remodeled when the color leaches from your walls. Since yoursquo;re on a mission to give your house a new look on a tight budget, consider a black and white color palette.

Getting different colored palettes can add to the total cost. To counter that, go for the >

Alternatively, choose a neutral color scheme for your rooms. It is a perfect pick because it offers you a lot of flexibility when it comes to decorating. This makes the neutral color scheme a budget-friendly choice because it allows you to add nearly any deacute;cor or accent color.

5. Think smaller home remodeling changes

Another smart tip to refurbish your house on a tight budget is to make small changes. While itrsquo;s nice to think of the big picture, it is useless to daydream about a new look for your house if you donrsquo;t have the cash to make the dream come true.

In such a case, making small changes can significantly change your housersquo;s look. One way to do this is to renovate your house in sections. For instance, get your kitchen renovated this year and then save up and revamp your bedroom sometime later.

Or, you can make minor changes that make a big impact. For instance, change the hardware on the kitchen cabinets for a refreshed look instead of getting the cabinets replaced altogether. Similarly, change the rugs or curtains in your house for a different look.

Wrap up

Budgeting can be tough but not impossible. You can always stay within the limitations of your wallet by planning, making small changes, spending thoughtfully instead of impulsively, and doing some work yourself.


> Full Story



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