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Front Page » Top Stories » Miamidade Expects Air Force Will Hand Overpart Of Homestead Base For Redevelopment

Miamidade Expects Air Force Will Hand Overpart Of Homestead Base For Redevelopment

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Written by on March 14, 2002

By Jaime Levy
miami’s downtown development director resigns; agency may redefine focus miami-dade expects air force will hand over part of homestead base for redevelopment kentucky arts leader named 1st choice to direct miami’s new center american, united see full rebound, new flights by summer housing developers bullish on continued demand in greater miami rehabbing old little havana apartments becoming hot ticket at&t may face more fines if miami customers complain about service calendar of events fyi miami filming in miami front page about miami today put your message in miami today contact miami today job opportunities research our files the online archive order reprints miami-dade expects air force will hand over part of homestead base for redevelopmentBy Jaime Levy

Local officials say the federal government’s ruling on the transfer of 717 acres at Homestead Air Reserve Base is coming soon – and they expect the decision to put Miami-Dade County in control of the land.

Submitted in December by the county commission and the Beacon Council, the economic development application proposed using the land for five components, collectively called "Destination Everglades."

The components are a visitor center, an academic research base, a hotel and conference center, an amateur sports complex and military-retiree housing. The proposal, with input from Urban Land Institute consultants, is a non-binding outline of development ideas.

"We’ve had conversations with the federal government, and they’ve indicated they’re very happy with the plan and that it will be approved," said Diana Gonzalez, the Beacon Council’s Homestead Reuse Plan coordinator. "Now we’re waiting for the government to give us that information in writing."

Assistant County Manager Bill Johnson said he has also received unofficial notice from the government. Although he would not elaborate on what he’s heard, he said he is moving ahead with plans that assume a federal OK. In late April, he plans to present the proposal to developers at an Urban Land Institute convention in Kansas City.

"We want to make sure we reach out to get the broadest amount of input on a national level, from developers. They’re helping me better understand the potential of my property – but we’re also trying to whet their whistle," Mr. Johnson said. "I feel good. My belly tells me things look good. But it’s not over ’til it’s over."

The county’s application was forwarded March 7 from the Air Force Base Conversion Agency to the office of the Air Force’s deputy assistant secretary, said John Corradetti, of the agency. The assistant secretary will make the final decision.

"To go from office to office will take a few days. I’d hope to hear back in a few weeks," Mr. Corradetti said from Arlington, Va. "So far, things are going positively. But until we have the decision, there are so many issues surrounding Homestead that almost any one of them, if looked at by the wrong person in a particular way" could curb the project.

The one-two punch of 1992’s Hurricane Andrew and the 1993 closing and subsequent realignment of the former US Air Force base felled South Miami-Dade’s economy. Community leaders hope that redeveloping the now-surplus military site will pull the area’s future up off the mat.

If approved, local and federal leaders will negotiate on what Mr. Johnson called "the meat and potatoes" of the plan, including specific boundaries. The county manager is already composing a group to work with the US government, according to Mr. Johnson, who said the transfer could take place in September.

If the 717 acres – a series of non-contiguous tracts – is handed over, the county intends to sell pieces to private developers using requests for proposals. The military would retain the remainder of the 3,000-acre Air Reserve base.

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