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Front Page » Top Stories » Developer Sells 15 Acres In Homestead Park Of Commerce

Developer Sells 15 Acres In Homestead Park Of Commerce

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Written by on January 11, 2007

By Eric Kalis
While Homestead officials closed the sale of 18 acres in the city’s Park of Commerce in two separate purchases last month, developer M&H Homestead secured a contract to sell about 15 acres of its park space to a local real estate investor.

M&H Homestead Principal Michael Latterner said last week that his company reached an agreement to sell about 15 acres of park space to Steve Smith, president of ComReal Companies, a commercial real estate firm with offices in Miami. Both sides plan to close the deal in March, said Mr. Latterner, who declined to disclose financial details.

Mr. Smith, who bought the space under the company name CR Partners X, LLC, said on Friday that he will decide whether to build for himself or other companies on the industrial space fronting Southwest 142nd Avenue by the end of the first quarter of 2007. The deal marks the culmination of three years of dialogue between Mr. Latterner and Mr. Smith, who said he is interested in pursuing the city’s remaining 100 acres of park space. City Manager Curt Ivy has said the city would prefer to sell all of its space in one transaction.

The sale leaves Mr. Latterner with about 61 acres of park space from two purchases his company made several years ago. The company plans to build a mixed-use town center on the remaining land with residential, commercial and retail components, he said.

The company has completed preliminary designs but has not decided how much retail space will be included or what potential tenants might be interested in the space, Mr. Latterner said. Possible uses include financial institutions and law offices, he said.

"The park needs to have the availability of banks and attorney’s offices to complement the industrial space," Mr. Latterner said. "We are doing the center to provide those kinds of services to the community."

M&H Homestead has a series of legal hurdles to clear before getting authorization to build, Mr. Latterner said. Because the Park of Commerce lies in a development of regional impact zone, the company has to obtain regional and state approval to change the land use from industrial to residential mixed use. The company plans to formally apply for a zoning change by the end of this year, he said.

Securing the city’s support is critical in persuading state officials to allow the zoning change, Mr. Latterner said. "The city is usually the driving force behind getting a zoning change approved (by the state)," Mr. Latterner said. "If the city recommends the change, the state generally approves it."

The company is working on several studies of the project’s potential traffic impact, Mr. Latterner said. Early returns show there would be a net reduction of overall traffic in the area if a town center is built, he said. The company has had several positive meetings with representatives from nearby homeowners associations about the project, Mr. Latterner said.

"We have worked with nearby homeowners and got strong support from delegates from different homeowners associations," he said.

The deal with Mr. Smith comes several months after M&H Homestead unsuccessfully tried to buy the city’s 118-acre portion of the 270-acre park. Both sides were unable to close a $7 million gap on a settlement for the Keys Gate residential community M&H Homestead developed in 1993.

City officials made two deals last month — a 14-acre sale to consortium Homestead Commerce Group for $1.8 million and 4 acres to Dutch company Lapis Lazuli for $540,000.