Category Archives: International

All Aboard Miami: All Aboard

What do you get if you put Hitachi’s Japanese engineers, their counterparts from the Italian rail firm Ansaldo, a schoolgirl choir and the mayor of Miami together in the swamps of Florida?

A new metrorail system that Miami’s urban planners hope will bring commuting from the city to its ribbons of suburbs into the 21st century.

But behind the hoopla and celebration surrounding the $375m project unveiled last week is a serious effort to switch US commuters in a major regional city from overcrowded, inefficient and polluting dependence on cars to a model that resembles the European or Asian adoption of mass transit.

Miami, like many other cities across the US, is attempting to redress decades of under-investment in the sector. While cities such as Charlotte, San Diego and Dallas have been successful with the new light rail commuter-moving systems, other cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington DC, report falling rider numbers despite enormous and costly efforts by transportation officials to entice people out of their cars.

There have been other, unsuccessful attempts to build a light rail in Miami and other cities have run into issues with their own plans, but the engineers here are quietly optimistic that any incoming administration will increase infrastructure budgets, some of which would be targeted to mass transit.

Hillary Clinton has vowed to increase federal funding by $275bn over a five-year period, warning “it is not possible to remain economically competitive in a very, very competitive global economy if we don’t have the infrastructure we need”.

Here on the border of the Everglades, the gleaming new blue and silver cars look enticing: clean-running, silent, with free Wi-Fi and other enticements, but will they help turn the tide against Miami’s congested roadways?

The city’s construction boom has caused chaos on its roads. Coupled with fears that rising sea levels could begin to make tidal flooding more frequent, as well as the intermittent threat of hurricanes, have added to the incentive to overhaul its transportation systems.

For Hitachi, which now owns Italian manufacturer Ansaldo, is looking for deeper penetration in the US market. Current projects include a driverless system in Honolulu scheduled to open next year.

“We believe the rail business in the US is sustainable and growing because many cities have a mass transit system,” noted Kentaro Masai, head of Hitachi global rail. “We’ve already received support from the government, but were optimistic that ridership, especially among young people, will grow. There are challenges but we are optimistic.”

Read Edward Helmore, The Guardian article here:
http://read.bi/1TeIjts


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Haiti in Club Med Revival: Destination Haiti

Haiti in Club Med Revival: Destination Haiti

Lucio Garcia-Mansilla had long heard about the former Club Med property tucked along the Haitian Riviera, 123 acres lined with lush vegetation and a mile-long expanse of white sand.
But it wasn’t until decades later — when Haiti’s investment climate began to welcome international brands — that the Argentine founder of Colombia-based Decameron Hotels & Resorts would get there.

Read Jacqueline Charles’ article here:
http://hrld.us/1WCIo9d

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Turkey Spends Over $1M on its New, Miami Embassy. I Think They’ll Stay for Awhile

If you spend money in a place, it usually means you like it.  If you spend a lot of money in a place, it usually means you’ll be staying for a while.  With the new non-stop airline route from MIA to Ankarra, I think the Turks are getting comfortable in Miami.

Amicon Construction is putting the finishing touches on Turkey’s new Miami consulate. Turkish-born and U.S.-based Murat Mutlu designed the 7,500-square-foot space in the Brickell City Tower, at 80 Southwest Eighth Street.

The Consulate General of the Republic of Turkey’s new consulate features a modern, monochromatic design, and ballistic-rated glass, wall paneling and doors, Amicon project manager Jay Richmond told The Real Deal. He said the cost of the buildout was more than $1 million. It includes a reception area with multiple teller stations. “When you’re doing a high-security buildout, you’re dealing with materials from specialty manufacturers with long lead times,” Richmond said.

While the space opened in time for the Turkish election in November, the consulate is still tweaking finishes and has yet to hold a grand opening reception. Other tenants of the 33-story office building include Uber, Verizon, Lamex Agrifoods, Inlingua Language School, Chase Bank, Moye restaurant, the Beacon Council and the Consulate General of Japan.

Property records show that Banyan Street Capital owns the building. Danet Linares, vice chair of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, is the building’s exclusive leasing agent. Linares told TRD Brickell City Tower is currently 87 percent occupied with two new leases that will bring its occupancy up to 93 percent.

The Turkish consulate signed a 10-year lease about a year ago and moved into a temporary space in the building before the new office was ready. “Their space required a complete renovation,” Linares said. Amicon also built out the space of the French consulate in the Espirito Santo building nearby at 1395 Brickell Avenue.

Read Katherine Kallergis The Real Deal article here:

http://bit.ly/1QVwrLm

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Venezuelan strives for better U.S. relations

Maximilien Arvelaiz does not look or sound like a hardened socialist tactician going toe-to-toe with the U.S. government.

Instead of military garb emblazoned with medallions, the young Venezuelan diplomat wears designer suits and vintage glasses. His talk isn’t peppered with vitriolic attacks on Yankee imperialism, but with references to pop culture and U.S. television.

Yet Arvelaiz, 43, is at the center of one of the most acrimonious relationships in the Western Hemisphere. For the last year and a half, Arvelaiz has been working behind the scenes trying to re-establish a functional relationship with U.S. officials.

Read FRANCO ORDOÑEZ article here:
http://bit.ly/1OCxVrw

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Colombia glitters abroad amid grumpiness at home

By any yardstick, Colombia is poised for a stellar year. It’s expected to sign a peace deal that will end the hemisphere’s oldest civil conflict, have the re-gion’s strongest economy, and play host to high-profile visits from both Pope Francis and President Barack Obama. To top it off, it’s even in the running for an Oscar.

But talk to people on the street and the mood is de-cidedly sour. Pocketbooks have been strained by the twin woes of a devalued currency and nagging infla-tion. And an El Niño-related drought is threatening water and energy shortages.

In that sense, Colombia is likely to have both a ban-ner and a bummer of a year. And whichever senti-ment tips the balance could have deep repercussions for President Juan Manuel Santos.

Read JIM WYSS Miami Herald article here:
http://bit.ly/1OuHpoL

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China not Amused by Taiwan’s 1st Female President

China not Amused by Taiwan’s 1st Female President

“Sisters are doing it for themselves”, and their broth-ers seem not to be cool with that. For example, Tai-wan elected Tsai Ing-wen as its first female presi-dent Saturday, handing her pro-independence party its first majority in the national legislature and reject-ing the China-friendly party that has led the self-governing island for eight years.

The result seems to be deeply unsettling to China, which may respond by further reducing Taipei’s al-ready limited ability to win diplomatic allies and participate in international organizations.

In a statement issued after Tsai’s win, the Chinese Cabinet’s body for handling Taiwan affairs reaf-firmed its opposition to Taiwan independence, but said it would work to maintain peace and stability between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. It’s the Asian Century just in case you’re not paying attention.

Read ABC News Christopher Bodeen and Ralph Jennings article here:
http://abcn.ws/1Q4vLRL

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New Congress in Venezuela Anticipates Tension

Venezuela

Well, yeah, what did you expect?

In what’s likely a sign of things to come, the inaugural session of Venezuela’s National Assembly on Tuesday devolved into shouting, shoving and recrimination as the opposition took control of the body for the first time in 17 years.

The ruling-party delegation, long accustomed to holding sway in the legislature, stormed out of congress as they accused their rivals of violating internal regulations.

But beyond the posturing and brinkmanship, the opposition bloc laid out the guidelines of what they said would be their program to rescue the country.

Read Jim Wyss’ Miami Herald article here:
hrld.us/1Zc9N72

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U.S. Cracking Down on Visa Overstays

Visiting the U.S. can be viewed in terms of pre-9/11 and post-9/11.  Add the latest wrinkle:  pre-2016 Presidential Election and post-2016 Presidential Election.  In other words, Donald Trump and the Republicans, whether they get a crack at the White House or not, will influence immigration policy in the United States and it’s already started. For example, when Ines Gómez Calderón arrived at Miami International Airport June 1 on a flight from Colombia she was promptly arrested after immigration authorities learned she had previously overstayed her tourist visa for nine years.

While Gómez Calderon’s lengthy overstay was an unusual case, passport control officers at MIA regularly encounter travelers who have previously stayed beyond the expiration date on their visas.

Visa overstays are drawing media attention these days after the issue entered the nascent debate in the 2016 presidential race. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who announced his candidacy in Miami on June 15, told the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in San Francisco in January that visa overstays are a major problem that needs to be resolved for border security.

Immigration policy is a moving target in the U.S.

Read Alfonso Chardy’s Miami Herald article here:

http://hrld.us/1S8Osmc

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EB-5 at a Crossroads

Reasonably smart people can make predictions about the future of the EB-5 Program in the U.S., but no one can state with certainty what the future holds. And with a U.S. Congress hell-bent on derailing just about any immigration reform, I’m not going to pretend to be able to say which way the wind will blow in the future.

Now wildly popular and well-publicized, the EB-5 program offers a green card and potential citizenship to foreign investors in exchange for economic investment in the U.S.

But after reeling in developers with the promise of cheap — and seemingly endless — capital, sources said the EB-5 visa program is now at a crossroads.

Read E.B. Solomont’s The Real Deal article here:

http://bit.ly/1Qngr0B

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Finance Industry Blossoming in Miami

New York, London, Dubai, Singapore…Miami?  Yes, believe it.  While Miami’s finance scene may never blossom into “Wall Street South” — recent efforts to attract hedge funds and other investment firms to South Florida are starting to pay off. “We’ve seen huge growth in businesses that used to be tangential parts of the industry here,” said Juan Carlos Campuzano, president of Oberlin Wealth Partners, an Ohio-based investment advisor that opened a Brickell office in 2013.  The Downtown Development Authority, the Beacon Council and others are leading the charge.

Read Nicholas Nehamas’ Miami Herald article here:

http://hrld.us/1CCkgaZ

 

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