Miami Beach News Roundup – October 28, 2013

Random Pixels presents The Jonah Wolfson File

[Random Pixels]

(source: Random Pixels)

(source: Random Pixels)

Custin (read Wolfson) is also behind the Citizens for Ethical and Effective Leadership ECO, a PAC that’s been sending out mailers attacking mayoral candidate Michael Gongora. So far this year, the PAC has raised over $1.7 million.

The most recent treasurer’s report for the PAC shows that it’s paid back over $80,000 to Custin’s company, DRC Consulting for “direct mail” and “TV advertising.”

When I showed the report to a South Florida political veteran, this was his response:

The problem is there is no proof that the bill is really for any service rendered. No one can audit it. He controls the checkbook and just approves his payment to himself. There is a “Treasurer” Daniel Cifuentes, but he just signs the reports.

Notice that Gerald Robins (the father of Scott Robins; Philip Levine’s business partner) gave the Citizens For Ethical….Leadership Pac/eco (Wolfson and Custin) $50,000;he also gave the Let Miami Beach Decide pac (Jonah Wolfson’s other pac) a separate $25,000 contribution.

That is $75,000 to Jonah in a two week period in September. It will all get spent on DRC Consulting (David Custin) David and Jonah will will work out their personal arrangement on how it gets split and shared. No accounting.

Levine handler Jonah Wolfson dodges ethics questions

[Political Cortadito]

In what became a high-pitched, loud, whiny diatribe that is, apparently, characteristic of the personal injury lawyer, Wolfson refused to answer any questions Saturday about his involvement in the race and other ethical issues that were pointed out to me in the past few weeks. Those include dueling professed values on his Normadec Avenue home, a $100,000+ campaign to run against nobody in his last election, tens of thousands of contributions to his PAC by developer Russell Galbut — on the same day Wolfson voted to give him a parking variance (more on that later) — and, among other things, he and his wife’s rapidly climbing net worth, which has more than tripled from $118,000 to $372,000, according to Judge Andrea Wolfson’s financial disclosure forms.

Mental illness is not something to joke about, but maybe some of those people were right: Wolfson — who is known to go postal at the drop of a hat — may need to up his meds.

Sherry Kaplan Roberts Under Investigation by Florida Elections Commission for NOT Being a Lawful Resident of Florida

[City Debate]

Sherry Roberts Halloween party

Sherry Roberts at the SAVE Dade Halloween Party
(source: Miami Herald)

We are all familiar with the homestead tax exemption in Florida.  In Ohio, they have something similar called a “2.5% Homesite Rollback” for Ohioans who “own the home” and “occupy the home as [their] principal place of residence.”  According to the Ottawa County Auditor in Ohio, Sherry Roberts is currently receiving this benefit and has received it every year since 2001.  Thus, for real estate tax purposes, Ms. Roberts has been a resident of Ohio from 2001 through today.

Since 2012, Ms. Roberts has repeatedly filed documents with the State of Ohio’s Department of Commerce, Ohio Division of Real Estate certifying subject to criminal prosecution that her “home address” was in “Marblehead, OH.”  In fact, she’s filed papers with the department just this year stating that her home is in Marblehead, OH.  So, for licensing purposes her residence is also currently in Ohio.

…Not only do Miami Beach voters deserve more than a Commissioner who lives in Ohio, but the Miami Beach Charter prohibits her from running (although, she’s apparently lied to get around the Charter).

Miami Beach campaigns face legal challenges

[Miami Herald]

An election lawsuit was dismissed Friday after a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge decided that the resident who filed it didn’t have legal standing to sue.

Joseph S. Geller, who represented several of the parties in the suit, said the suit tried to “gain political advantage … to try to silence your opponent from speaking, from communicating with the voters.”

…J.C. Planas, an election lawyer who is working with the campaign of Miami Beach mayoral candidate Philip Levine, represented Rodriguez in the suit. Levine has been the subject of attack ads paid for by the Florida ECO.

Miami Beach Group III candidates raise $112,000

[Miami Herald]

The race for Miami Beach Commission Group III has generated the least in campaign contributions — surprising because the current mayor is among the hopefuls, and incumbents usually enjoy a fundraising edge.

Facing off for the seat are: community activist Roger Abramson, current mayor Matti Herrera Bower, who is term limited from her current post, and retired community banker Joy Malakoff.

Together, the candidates have raised $112,000.

Advisory Board Warns Miami Beach It Will Lose $390 Million if Miami Beach Convention Center Plan is Scrapped

[Miami Sun Post]

Miami Beach Convention Center

Miami Beach Convention Center

The Miami Beach Convention Center Advisory Board announced this week that Miami Beach stands to lose $390 million dollars if the current renovation plans for the center are scrapped.

Chairman of the Board Stu Blumberg said the city has on the books tentative agreements that represent real tangible money, and warned it would go up in smoke if the city moved away from developing the 52-acre lot.

…“It’s not complicated, because if the city doesn’t wish to be in the business…then don’t talk about a renovation and don’t talk about a hotel,” said the chairman.

The alternative to conventions would be trade shows, like the boat show and events of that ilk. According to the advisory board’s figures, those type of shows help keep the convention center at a 72% occupancy. Commonly it is thought that trade shows attract a local or nearby crowd that drive into the city, then drive out after the show. A convention crowd is commonly thought as being from out of town, rent rooms and use public transportation or taxis. This anecdotal logic was echoed by the board- which is made up of veterans in the hospitality industry.

Hence the board scoffed at the notion that a reason to scrap this project is because the city did not do an extensive traffic study. Through the conventions-vs-trade-show logic, convention attendees would not bring in new traffic. Plus a consideration of traffic is already woven into the center’s bookings the board says.

Miami Beach mayoral candidate makes a splash with Reddit chat

[Miami Herald]

Former comedian, pot enthusiast and serious Miami Beach mayoral candidate Steve Berke took to the social media site Reddit on Sunday night for one of the site’s popular Ask Me Anything sessions.

As of Monday afternoon, more than 3,000 users had voted or left comments — both silly and serious — for Berke. Interest in the discussion landed it on the site’s homepage Monday. Berke shared screen shots that show the post at one point was the number one entry on Reddit.

Hilton Renovates, Reopens North Beach MiMo Hotel Dec. 16th

[Curbed Miami]

Future Hilton Cabana Miami Beach, Collins Avenue and 62nd Street, Miami Beach.

Future Hilton Cabana Miami Beach, Collins Avenue and 62nd Street, Miami Beach.

The Allison Hotel, designed by architect A. Herbert Mathes and built in 1951 according to the city’s historic district designation report (we check these things) is soft opening after its extensive renovation/restoration December 16th as the Hilton Cabana Miami Beach, according to HotelChatter. (HotelChatter also says the building is deco, which is not true. It’s Mimo, punks) It’s on the ocean at 62nd Street and Collins in North Beach. Renderings (sorry, they’re slightly grainy) show a high ceilinged lobby with big translucent columns around the check-in desk, a brightly blue painted lanai or pergola type area with hanging couches for lounging and swinging, a long broad hallway that smacks of Dorothy Draper with black and white stripes and big round chairs, and one of those restaurants that looks like a warehouse in Brooklyn.

W South Beach resolves foreclosure lawsuit

[South Florida Business Journal]

The developer of the W South Beach resolved a foreclosure lawsuit the old fashioned way, by repaying the loan in full.

David Edelstein, the developer of the prominent condo hotel, said his company repaid the $60 million owed to German lender Hypo Real Estate Capital Corp., which filed a foreclosure lawsuit on Oct. 17 against 2201 Collins Fee LLC. The lawsuit targeted the 216 unsold condo-hotel units and the common areas.

Attorney Robert M. Quinn, who represents Hypo in the lawsuit, filed a motion on Oct. 25 to withdraw the complaint.

Ritz-Carlton Residences to Set New Standard in Miami Beach Luxury

[Multi-Housing News]

Proposed Ritz Carlton Residences, 4701 Meridian Avenue, Miami Beach.

Proposed Ritz Carlton Residences, 4701 Meridian Avenue, Miami Beach.

The initial challenge confronted by Lionheart Capital was rezoning the site from hospital-institutional to residential use. The rezoning required a variance, as well as essential community support. “Many times, this is very difficult, especially in a high-end single-family residential area like this one,” Sternberg says. “Fortunately, we experienced one of the most amicable and respectful collaborations between a developer and community in expressing and addressing all of our various needs. Because of this, we got our variance at its first public hearing, which is unheard of in Miami Beach.”

Troubled loan on Palm Beach hotel sold to Miami Beach investor

[South Florida Business Journal]

The distressed mortgage covering the Brazilian Court Hotel & Beach Club on Palm Beach was acquired by a Miami Beach investor.

…On Oct. 16, MUNB sold the mortgage to Miami Beach-based Ezra Group, which is managed by Doron Marom. The lawsuit remains pending and Ezra Group filed a motion to assume the plaintiff position.

 NYC’s Lure Fishbar opening in November at Loews Miami Beach


Filling a void left long ago by the long gone Emeril’s, restaurateurs Josh Pickard and John McDonald (responsible, in part, for bringing The Dutch down here) along with chef Josh Capon (a Burger Bash champ) have partnered with hotelier Jonathan Tisch to open the first outpost of New York City’s popular Lure Fishbar at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. The restaurant, known for its swanky yacht-themed design, sceney celeb vibe, and fresh, creative seafood dishes, is set to open in Miami in November 2013.

“We’ve been considering expanding Lure to Miami for many years and finally found the ideal venue and partner in Loews and Jon Tisch,” says McDonald. “The historic Art Deco St. Moritz building offers the perfect architectural background for our design. We’re really looking forward to opening next fall.”

1826 Restaurant & Lounge Coming to Miami Beach

[Eater Miami]

Future 1826 Restaurant & Lounge, 1826 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach

Future 1826 Restaurant & Lounge, 1826 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach

Danny Grant, a two Michelin-Starred, Long Island native, is heading to our Magic City to spearhead a new restaurant called 1826 Restaurant & Lounge. After leaving Waldorf Astoria’s critically acclaimed restaurant, RIA, last year, the Chicago-based chef has teamed up with Cypress Hospitality Group’s founder and president, Geordy Murphy (the restaurant’s managing partner), to create an “upscale Contemporary American” concept, slated to open early 2014. A press release informs that the restaurant’s “seasonally driven menu … features an innovative approach to Grant’s classical French culinary technique”.

Jugofresh Expands Food Menu: Try the Calorie-Free Kelp Noodles

[Miami New Times]

Cold-pressed juices and booze-free shots aren’t always as satisfying as something you can chew on. That’s why when Jugofresh’s Matthew Sherman and Darren Laszlo (AKA Chef Paco) invited Short Order to try their new food menu paired with juices, we happily obliged.

The 15-course meal featured flavorful, nostalgic dishes. They were all backed by Jugofresh’s mantra: “All items that leave our kitchen are nutrient-dense to provide your body with everything you need to look and feel your best.”

TV Hopefuls Try Out for America’s Got Talent at Miami Beach Convention Center

[NBC Miami]

America's Got Talent audition line [source: NBC Miami]

America’s Got Talent audition line
[source: NBC Miami]

From guys with guitars to little vocalists, thousands showed up to audition for America’s Got Talent this weekend at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

The line snaked around Washington Avenue to try out for the show’s ninth season.

For 11-year-old hopeful Tanyi Zapata, the experience was daunting.

“It was tingly scary,” the young singer said.