800 Degrees Pizza to open in Brightline’s Miami station

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Central Fare (Rendering provided)

The Los Angeles-based fast-casual chain, 800 Degrees Pizza, will open its first South Florida location in Brightline’s train station in the heart of downtown Miami, the private rail venture announced Tuesday.

The design-your-own pizza restaurant will be part of the station’s 50,000-square-foot “Central Fare” marketplace. The Miami locations is one of several new restaurants the pizza chain plans to open in South Florida.

RELATED: Work at All Aboard station in West Palm Beach 70 percent complete 

The MiamiCentral station is scheduled open next year.

“With locations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tokyo and Dubai, 800 Degrees Pizzeria attracts an array of patrons who share a discerning appetite for high-quality food that isn’t compromised by great value,” said David McIntyre, senior vice president of hospitality operations for MiamiCentral and Brightline. “Central Fare is well positioned to become an integral part of Miami’s culinary scene and we are pleased to welcome 800 Degrees to our growing group of talented restaurateurs.”

Apart from Neapolitan-style pizza, 800 Degrees also offers a selection of fresh, made-to-order salads, a variety of hot and cold bites, wood oven-baked sandwiches, a Burrata menu, as well as organic, artisanal gelato. All 800 Degrees locations serve a selection of premium beer and wine including offerings imported from Italy.

 

Brightline opponents want access to bond records

Two Treasure Coast counties who filed a federal lawsuit challenging All Aboard Florida’s push to sell tax-exempt bonds to pay for its Brightline train service asked a federal judge on Thursday to allow them to review bond records before deciding whether to dismiss the case.

A freight train passes the All Aboard Florida's Brightline station under-construction in downtown West Palm Beach. The passenger rail service station will connect West Palm Beach with Miami and Orlando. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
A freight train passes the All Aboard Florida’s Brightline station under-construction in downtown West Palm Beach. The passenger rail service station will connect West Palm Beach with Miami and Orlando. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

In court documents filed Thursday, Martin and Indian River counties said they should be able to review documents between All Aboard Florida and the U.S. Department of Transportation that deal with bond sales for the rail project.

Martin and Indian River counties filed suit last year over the sale of $1.75 billion in tax-exempt bonds for the rail project, arguing that federal officials violated the National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental policies when they approved the sale before an environmental study of Brightline’s second phase was complete.

The U.S. Department of Transportation last month withdrew its 2014 approval granting All Aboard Florida’s Brightline permission the bonds, a move federal officials now argue makes the lawsuit filed by the counties moot.

Instead, the federal transportation officials granted All Aboard provisional permission to move forward with a smaller bond sale.

A freight train passes the All Aboard Florida's Brightline station under-construction in downtown West Palm Beach. The passenger rail service station will connect West Palm Beach with Miami and Orlando. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
A freight train passes the All Aboard Florida’s Brightline station under-construction in downtown West Palm Beach. The passenger rail service station will connect West Palm Beach with Miami and Orlando. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

The original sale would have paid for the second phase of Brightline’s project, connecting West Palm Beach to Orlando.

The new sale will be limited to the rail venture’s first phase between Miami and West Palm Beach – where an environmental review has already been completed.

As a result of the financial change, federal transportation officials have asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

But before a decision is made on that request, Martin and Indian River counties say they should be allowed to review documents related to both bond sales.

In the court filing, the counties pointed to a letter Sept. 30 letter from All Aboard President Michael Reininger to federal transportation officials.

In the letter, Reininger said the company planned to consider a second, $1.15 billion bond sale to help pay for rail work between West Palm Beach and Orlando.

“Within the next several weeks, we will separately discuss a new request for an allocation of up to $1.15 billion in (private activity bond) authority for Phase II,” Reininger wrote to federal transportation officials.

 

 

 

 

 

Indian River County drops permit challenge for All Aboard’s Brightline project

Indian River County has dropped its challenge of a water management permit for All Aboard Florida’s Brightline train service connecting Miami to Orlando.

(Provided)
(Provided)

The Indian River County commission voted in January to look for ways to challenge Brightline’s permit request filed with the St. Johns River Water Management District, the governmental agency responsible for managing groundwater and surface water resources in all or part of 18 counties in northeast and east-central Florida.

A challenge was filed with the state’s Division of Administrative Hearings in September. But after reviewing the permit documents, Indian River County agreed to drop the challenge on Nov. 21, a filing in the case shows.

The move came just days before the U.S. Department of Transportation said it had withdrawn its 2014 approval granting Brightline permission to sell up to $1.75 billion in tax-exempt bonds to pay for the rail project, a move federal officials now argue makes a lawsuit filed by opponents of the train service moot.

A rendering of All Aboard's Florida's West Palm Beach station sits on the top floor of the building, overlooking downtown, after "topping off" ceremonies, signaling construction of the building has hit a new milestone and reached its top elevation, Friday, September 30, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
A rendering of All Aboard’s Florida’s West Palm Beach station sits on the top floor of the building, overlooking downtown, after “topping off” ceremonies, signaling construction of the building has hit a new milestone and reached its top elevation, Friday, September 30, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

In court documents filed Monday, the Transportation Department said it withdrew its original approval last month, and instead granted All Aboard’s Brightline provisional permission to move forward with a smaller bond sale.

The original sale would have paid for the second phase of Brightline’s project, connecting West Palm Beach to Orlando.

The new sale will be limited to the rail venture’s first phase between Miami and West Palm Beach.

Martin and Indian River counties filed suit last year over the original bond sale, arguing that federal officials violated the National Environmental Policy Act when they approved the tax-exempt bonds before an environmental study of the rail project’s second phase was complete.

The Transportation Department on Monday asked a federal judge to dismiss the case, saying the financing shift has resolved the dispute because the second phase of the project will no longer be included in the bond sale.

Brightline  President Michael Reininger pointed to improving economic conditions, adding that a smaller “targeted” sale would be easier to market.

“Since December 2015, we have been monitoring the status of the markets and evaluating potential options for an offering of (tax-exempt bonds),” Reininger wrote in a Sept. 30 letter to federal transportation officials.

“We are pleased to report that market conditions relative to bond financing began to improve earlier this year and have continued to improve, to the point that we now believe we can conclude an initial offering of (tax-exempt bonds) on favorable terms in the near future,” he wrote.

In the letter, Reininger said the company planned to consider a second, $1.15 billion bond sale to help pay for rail work between West Palm Beach and Orlando.

 

 

All Aboard, federal officials move to end lawsuit over tax-exempt rail bonds

The U.S. Department of Transportation has withdrawn its 2014 approval granting All Aboard Florida’s Brightline permission to sell up to $1.75 billion in tax-exempt bonds to pay for the rail project, a move federal officials now argue makes a lawsuit filed by opponents of the train service moot.

(Provided)
(Provided)

In court documents filed Monday, the U.S. Department of Transportation said it withdrew its original approval this month, and instead granted All Aboard provisional permission to move forward with a smaller bond sale.

The original sale would have paid for the second phase of Brightline’s project, connecting West Palm Beach to Orlando. The new sale will be limited to the rail venture’s first phase between Miami and West Palm Beach.

Martin and Indian River counties filed suit last year over the original bond sale, arguing that federal officials violated the National Environmental Policy Act when they approved the tax-exempt bonds before an environmental study of the rail project’s second phase was complete.

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday asked a federal judge to dismiss the case, saying the financing shift has resolved the dispute since the second phase of the project will no longer be included in the bond sale.

A rendering of All Aboard's Florida's West Palm Beach station sits on the top floor of the building, overlooking downtown, after "topping off" ceremonies, signaling construction of the building has hit a new milestone and reached its top elevation, Friday, September 30, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
A rendering of All Aboard’s Florida’s West Palm Beach station sits on the top floor of the building, overlooking downtown, after “topping off” ceremonies, signaling construction of the building has hit a new milestone and reached its top elevation, Friday, September 30, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Court documents show All Aboard filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation in September requesting permission to move forward with the smaller, $600 million bond sale.

All Aboard’s president Michael Reininger pointed to improving economic conditions, adding that a smaller “targeted” sale would be easier to market.

“Since December 2015, we have been monitoring the status of the markets and evaluating potential options for an offering of (tax-exempt bonds),” Reininger wrote in Sept. 30 letter to federal transportation officials. “We are pleased to report that market conditions relative to bond financing began to improve earlier this year and have continued to improve, to the point that we now believe we can conclude an initial offering of (tax-exempt bonds) on favorable terms in the near future.”

In the letter, Reininger said the company planned to consider a second, $1.15 billion bond sale to help pay for rail work between West Palm Beach and Orlando.

“Within the next several weeks, we will separately discuss a new request for an allocation of up to $1.15 billion in (private activity bond) authority for Phase II,” Reininger wrote to federal transportation officials.

In a statement released Tuesday, a citizens group opposing the project said the financing shift was “visible proof” that efforts to block the rail project are working.

“They have no obvious way to fund Phase 2,” Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida said. “…They aim to repackage their offer, but pouring bad wine into new bottles doesn’t make it taste any better. It remains to be seen whether the investor community will back even this more limited financing activity. ”

Construction on the first phase of Brightline’s service, which includes three stations and track work between Miami and West Palm Beach, is 70 percent complete, company officials have said.

Brightline’s first train is expected to arrive in south Florida by the end of the year.

Treasure Coast counties, anti-rail group want access to All Aboard’s bond plan

The attorneys representing two Treasure Coast counties and a citizen’s group fighting to block All Aboard Florida’s passenger rail project are demanding access to the company’s financing plan.

In a letter to state officials, the attorneys have requested documents related to All Aboard’s renewed push to sell millions in tax-exempt bond to help fund the private rail venture, which would connect South Florida to Orlando.

The Coral Gables-based company first sought permission to sell $1.75 billion in tax-exempt bonds in 2014, but the tight municipal bond market forced officials to shelve the sale last year.

In court documents made public this month, All Aboard officials said they want to scrap the original sale, and instead move forward with a smaller bond issue that would be easier to market to potential buyers.

Martin and Indian River counties, along with the Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida, or CARE FL, questioned whether the change is allowed under a state board’s approval of the sale.

The Florida Development Finance Corp., a special financing unit authorized by the state Legislature to issue tax-exempt bonds to private entities, signed off on the bond sale last year.

“We seek to better understand what the FDFC believes its roll is in AAF’s “new” PAB application and whether the FDFC agrees that AAF can simply rely upon previous FDFC actions taken with respect to the AAF bond process,” the attorneys wrote in Nov. 7 letter.

Construction continues on the All Aboard Florida train station on the Florida East Coast Railway in downtown West Palm Beach on September 6, 2016.  (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Construction continues on the All Aboard Florida train station on the Florida East Coast Railway in downtown West Palm Beach on September 6, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Court documents show All Aboard filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation in September requesting permission to move forward with a smaller, $600 million bond sale. The company said it planned to use the money to help pay for the first leg of its project connecting West Palm Beach and Miami.

All Aboard’s president Michael Reininger pointed to improving economic conditions, adding that a smaller “targeted” sale would be easier to market.

 

Anti-rail group to hold town hall meetings about All Aboard’s Brightline

The citizen’s group opposing All Aboard’s Brightline passenger train service will hold two town hall meetings this week to discuss the project.

Construction continues on the All Aboard Florida train station on the Florida East Coast Railway in downtown West Palm Beach on September 6, 2016.  (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Construction continues on the All Aboard Florida train station on the Florida East Coast Railway in downtown West Palm Beach on September 6, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida, also known as C.A.R.E. FL, said the meetings are designed to provide residents with an update on efforts to block the rail project.

Construction on the first phase of Brightline’s service, which includes three stations and track work between Miami and West Palm Beach, is well underway.

Brightline plans to eventually run 32 trains a day between Miami and Orlando with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

The second phase of the track work, which runs between West Palm Beach and Orlando, has not yet begun.

CARE FL’s  meetings will be held in Stuart and Jupiter. Speakers include: Attorney Stephen Ryan; Brent Hanlon, CARE FL Steering Committee Chairman; and Robert Crandall, former president and CEO of American Airlines.

Stuart Town Hall Meeting

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at 7p.m.

The Lyric Theater, 59 S.W. Flagler Ave., Stuart

Jupiter Town Hall Meeting

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 7 p.m.

Jupiter Community Center, 200 Military Trail, Jupiter

How FEC, All Aboard Florida and CSX are preparing for Hurricane Matthew

An FEC train travels along the tracks just south of Belvedere Road in West Palm Beach Thursday, April 23, 2015. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)
An FEC train travels along the tracks just south of Belvedere Road in West Palm Beach Thursday, April 23, 2015. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Rail lines in Florida are preparing for possible effects as Hurricane Matthew approaches the state.

Florida East Coast Railway is shutting down its train service tonight, said Robert Ledoux, FEC senior vice president and general counsel.

COMPLETE LIST OF SHELTERS, EMERGENCY RESOURCES

Crews on those trains will swap about halfway through their trip so they can be back in their homes tonight, Ledoux said.

Click here for the latest on Tri-Rail service

FEC service will be closed tomorrow and could reopen either late Friday or Saturday, but much of that depends upon the extent of damage along FEC’s line.

Ledoux said about 100 FEC employees are staged to mobilize once the storm has passed. They’ll work in smaller crews, covering about 60 miles of track each to find and fix any damage.

The first service once the FEC line reopens will be northbound out of Miami, as Matthew is expected to move north along Florida’s coastline.

FEC also is watching storm forecasts closely to determine if and when signal arms may need to be removed. The arms will be removed once forecasts indicate an area is supposed to receive 80 mph sustained winds, Ledoux said.

CSX leaders have been monitoring Matthew and have activated the company’s Hurricane Operations Plan, a spokesperson said Wednesday.

The freight company has suspended its operations along its main line between Savannah, Ga., and Pembroke, N.C., starting today, the spokesperson said. CSX service in South Florida was suspended this morning until further notice.

The company is working with its customers to reroute freight traffic or make other arrangements as necessary as delays are expected in the Southeast, the spokesperson added.

 

Work has been underway to secure construction sites for All Aboard Florida’s Brightline passenger rail service stations.

“Safety is Brightline’s number one priority,” Brightline said in a statement. “We are closely monitoring the hurricane and have implemented the necessary safety precautions required for all active construction sites.”

More coverage of Hurricane Matthew:

Dozens of flights cancelled and delayed in South Florida

The latest from The Post’s weather reporter, Kim Miller

When will Florida’s Turnpike tolls be suspended for Hurricane Matthew?

Which Palm Beach County gas stations can pump without power?

All Aboard’s Brightline reaches building milestone at West Palm station

Construction of All Aboard Florida’s Brightline train station in downtown West Palm Beach reached a new milestone on Friday when company officials hoisted a bright yellow flag on top of the building to mark the completion of vertical construction at the site.

Construction continues on the All Aboard Florida train station on the Florida East Coast Railway in downtown West Palm Beach on September 6, 2016.  (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Construction continues on the All Aboard Florida train station on the Florida East Coast Railway in downtown West Palm Beach on September 6, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach County and West Palm Beach officails, tourism leaders and construction workers were among the roughly 100 people who attended a “topping out” ceremony at the station site on Friday — an event that signifies the project has reached its top elevation and the “skeleton” of the building is complete.

Construction crews in Nov. 2014 began demolition work at the site located just north of CityPlace between Datura and Evernia streets west of the Florida East Coast Railway tracks. The first of 18 large concrete pillars, which serve as the station’s architectural signature, was hoisted into place in March.

On Friday, crews had begun exterior finishing work on the building. Escalators that will carry passengers to the station’s waiting areas perched above the train tracks rested near the building, wrapped in plastic and ready to be installed.

“It was about two years ago that we were standing very nearby here with a bulldozer to take down a building that was standing at this site in order to really mark the beginning of the journey that we are coming to the end of,” Brightline’s president Michael Reininger told the crowd gathered at Friday’s ceremony. “If you think about that, in just a short two year time we went from that, to what is soon to become a glorious new station right here in the hub of downtown.”

Over the next six months, Reininger said the company plans to hire 133 employees to operate the station, work with customers, and help with the company’s fleet of trains.

All Aboard’s Brightline is 65 percent complete between Miami and WPB

Construction on the first phase of All Aboard Florida’s Brightline passenger rail service is more than 65 percent complete, a company official said.

Construction continues on the All Aboard Florida train station on the Florida East Coast Railway in downtown West Palm Beach on September 6, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Construction continues on the All Aboard Florida train station on the Florida East Coast Railway in downtown West Palm Beach on September 6, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

The first phase of project, which spans from Miami to West Palm Beach, includes the construction of three train stations and the installation of a second track  along the Florida East Coast Railway line. All Aboard Florida plans to extend the service north to Orlando.

RELATED: 3 Things to Know: Brightline rail upgrades, train expected this fall

Brightline is set to hold a “Topping Out” ceremony on Friday at the site of the company’s passenger station in downtown West Palm Beach — an event that signifies work on the project has reached its top elevation.

The ceremony is another milestone for the station — which is set to open next year when Brightline begins carrying passengers between Miami and West Palm Beach.

Brightline plans to run 32 trains a day along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks with stops in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando.

Martin County Commission to discuss alternative routes for All Aboard’s Brightline

The Martin County Commission this afternoon is expected to discuss a series of alternative track routes for All Aboard Florida’s Brightline passenger rail service. 2_rails__de__chemin_de__fer1_

In a report that will be reviewed by the commission today, county officials say a western route, that would keep the passenger rail project away from coastal homes and businesses, was not considered as part of a federal environmental review of the rail project.

“This western route would provide reductions in potential negative impacts to traffic, the marine industry, safety, environmental and cultural resources associated with the currently proposed FEC route through eastern/coastal Martin County,” county officials said in a news alert about the commission’s planned discussion.

Martin County officials have been fighting to block the rail project, which would carry passengers between Miami and Orlando with stops in Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The trains would run along the Florida East Coast railway tracks.

Martin officials declared a “major victory” in the fight last month, after a federal judge denied motions to dismiss a lawsuit challenging All Aboard Florida’s ability to sell $1.75 billion in tax-exempt bonds to help pay for the project.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper last month found that the bonds are key to All Aboard Florida’s ability to complete the second phase of the rail line

Martin and Indian River counties filed federal lawsuits last year against the U.S. Department of Transportation challenging whether All Aboard Florida is eligible for the private activity bonds.

All Aboard Florida is an intervenor in the suit.