Homestead working on sale of 126 acres at Park of Commerce
By Sherri C. Ranta
Homestead is negotiating deals with two businessmen interested in buying 126 acres in the Park of Commerce, the city's industrial-office park that has had limited success since land was acquired a decade ago.
Negotiations are under way with residential developer Michael Latterner and satellite and fiber-optic services provider Roman Martinez for the remaining acreage in the park, said Homestead City Manager Curt Ivy.
"We do intend to sell the park. Negotiations are pending," he said, "but council may not think they are good enough. There's no time frame for it."
The city has struggled to attract tenants to the 280-acre park, at one point contracting Rockefeller Group Development for marketing and management services. But now, residential development is booming in southern Miami-Dade County and retail development is following.
"Now we're not quite in that kind of mode now," Mr. Ivy said. "We can be a little more selective."
The city, devastated structurally and economically in 1992 by Hurricane Andrew, has spent the past 10 years trying to recover.
Mr. Martinez, a principal at Latam SmartPark, said he and Venezuelan and Northeastern US investors want to purchase the land and develop the park as the city intended - with office and industrial space. Warehouse and office buildings would be planned if the sale goes through, he said.
Mr. Martinez was named this week to operate the Homestead Foreign Trade Zone, which encompasses the Park of Commerce. In a foreign-trade zone, goods can be imported duty-free. Mr. Martinez and his company installed and manage a fiber-optics telecommunications ring that services the city and the Park of Commerce.
"The fiber-optics ring will give the advantage over any other park in South Florida," he said. It gives companies the ability to operate complex networks and software.
Mr. Latterner was not available for comment Tuesday.
Mr. Ivy said Mr. Latterner bought about 49 acres in the Park of Commerce earlier this year in a deal with Douglas Development Group and Rockefeller.
Rockefeller had retained a connection to the Park of Commerce after Douglas and Central Florida Equipment signed a contract to develop land there just days before Rockefeller's contract with the city expired last year. Homestead did not renew the contract.
City officials, Mr. Ivy said, plan to sell another 25.2 acres for about $2.5 million to Mr. Latterner. The deal, he said, is expected to close in the next few weeks. Central Florida Equipment earlier this year purchased another 15 acres from the city.
The Park of Commerce is zoned for industrial and office use - a designation that permits warehouses, manufacturing and operations, offices, wholesale showrooms, distribution centers, merchandise marts, hotels and limited commercial uses.
Miami-Dade County commissioners gave approval July 27 for the city to sell the land.
Under a Miami-Dade ordinance, municipalities must seek approval from the county commission before selling more than 10 acres or more of contiguous property. The commission, according to the ordinance, must find that the sale is in the best interest of the public and be consistent with the county's master plan.