Homestead Developer Back Offdeal To Sell Park Of Commerce
By Eric Kalis
Homestead city officials say a deal with developer M&H Homestead to buy the city’s portion of the Homestead Park of Commerce is dead, only a month after Vice Mayor Steven Losner announced an agreement was near.
Both parties were unable to close a $7 million gap on a settlement for a 1993 residential project, said City Manager Curt Ivy, so M&H Homestead principal Michael Latterner and partner Steve Shiver withdrew their offer to buy 118 acres in the 270-acre park. The city tried reducing the purchase to 100 acres to expedite a deal, Mr. Ivy said, but M&H Homestead officials were not satisfied and ultimately decided to walk away.
"We seemed to have broken the logjam with M&H Homestead [in August] but in the end could not get the deal done," Mr. Ivy said.
City officials bought 118 acres in the park in 1993 to attract companies with international trade aspirations, but only Contender Boats and Silver Eagle Distributors have established operations since. The park sits in a 1,000-acre federal foreign-trade zone on the east side of the city and has broadband capabilities.
The city had a four-year deal with New Jersey firm Rockefeller Group to market the park. The company failed to generate interest in the park, however, and city officials let the contract expire in 2003.
M&H Homestead had claimed the city owed it $10 million for infrastructure it provided for the Keys Gate residential community in 1993, while city officials say they owe the company $3 million.
"We are not at odds with the city," Mr. Latterner said. "Ultimately we could not come to a meeting of the minds."
The company had planned to use the 118 acres to complement 75 acres it already owns in an undeveloped portion of the park acquired in two separate 2003 purchases, Mr. Latterner said. The 75 acres will be used for a town center mixed-use project with restaurants, retail outlets and residential units, he said, which requires a state-approved land-use change from industrial to residential mixed-use because the park lies in a development of regional impact (or DRI) zone. The company has not applied to the state for a change, he said.
"Our analysis is that the majority of homeowners in Keys Gate support" the town center, Mr. Latterner said. "We believe we have enough support from the city to get this approved."
While M&H Homestead has no immediate plans to reconsider buying the city’s portion of the park, Mr. Latterner said, the town center project could ignite development in an area ignored by businesses since Hurricane Andrew.
"The city would get ad valorem income from the town center, which would provide amenities to make the rest of the park more attractive and help the industrial side develop," he said. "The town center will benefit the park no matter who buys"
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