Retailers are starting to notice Homestead
By Tom Harlan
Retailers are planting roots in Homestead as the city's population and its residents' income continues to grow.
Based on demographics such as the number of rooftops in its communities, Homestead has the critical mass of people and disposable income many retailers require for opening franchises, city officials said.
Charles LaPradd, Homestead's planning and economic development administrator, said the city recently has approved more than 12,000 residential units. The increase in the number of units under construction or in the permitting process is driving more interest in commercial space from buyers and leasing agents, he said.
Homestead City Manager Curt Ivey said a new grocery store, drugstores and a 14-screen movie theater are planned for the area and others retailers are expected.
Flagship Cinema is under construction on Campbell Drive. The theater is being built through the assistance of a Small Cities Community Development Block Grant from the Florida Department of Community Affairs. The grant will provide money to make improvements to water and sewer lines surrounding Campbell Drive, city officials said.
The city receives at least three new business-license requests a week from a variety of retailers, restaurateurs and service providers who want to open stores near residential developments, Mr. LaPradd said Tuesday.
He said it is difficult to predict how fast retail will grow because factors such as interest rates influence how many businesses will decide to open in a specific area. However, he said, many retailers such as Publix and Walgreen's are attracted to the growth of the area.
"Obviously, more rooftops means more customers, which equates to more dollars," he said.
Mr. Ivey said Homestead hasn't had many amenities since being devastated in 1992 by Hurricane Andrew. Many retailers hadn't been interested in the area in the past decade, he said.
Residents and new developers welcome the retail growth, he said, and it seems to forecast a construction boom.
"It's impossible to find inexpensive dirt in West Dade or in Homestead. ... I don't see any release of that pressure," said Doron Valero, president of Equity One, a real estate investment trust specializing in shopping centers.
"People want to have some amenities here," Mr. Ivey said. "They don't want to run up the road to watch a movie or buy a suit."
Newcomers to Homestead, many of whom consider purchasing homes across South Florida, usually choose southern Miami-Dade County because it is about 30% less costly than in Miami or the Keys, he said, but property values are rising across the county.
Mr. Ivey said Homestead is an attractive location for homebuyers because it's 25 minutes from Miami and the Keys. Recreational options such as going to the beach or fishing are only a car ride away, he said.
"People are buying ahead of schedule," Mr. Ivey said. "The velocity at which it's growing is amazing."