Two months ago, prominent developer Wayne Rosen endured a measure of derision after a news story reported that he had asked Homestead for $3.5 million in federal anti-poverty dollars to improve a shuttered, weed-choked country club he owns. And the city council had said OK.
That story in the Miami Herald led to scathing blog items and a critical piece on The Daily Beast website about rich people using public money meant for the poor. The politically connected Rosen said his young daughter read the items and asked him why he was doing that. Stung by the criticism, the developer told the city to keep its money — which was in the form of a low-interest loan — and vowed to let the golf course “go brown.”
Now Rosen is back and promising to fix up the golf course after all. But the the promise comes with a condition:
“The golf course will be completely redone, but that’s subject to the [city] council approving my [changes],” Rosen told the Miami Herald. “If they approve, chances are we would open it in October of this year.”
Rather than tap the city’s $3.5 million in community development block grant money, Rosen said the $12 million needed to revamp the Keys Gate Golf and Country Club at 2300 Palm Dr. would come from his and his brother’s pockets. However, the council would need to overturn a decision made by Homestead’s planning and zoning board.
This is a very risky deal. I’ve got to put money up front and hope to get money back in the future. I’m really trying to make everyone happy. I’m trying to do the right thing.
The board gave a thumbs-down to his rezoning plans
“This is a very risky deal,” Rosen said. “I’ve got to put money up front and hope to get money back in the future. I’m really trying to make everyone happy. I’m trying to do the right thing.”
And if the city doesn’t approve?
Rosen: “I don’t even want to go there. There’s nothing we’re asking for that doesn’t make sense,” he said. “This is going to be great for the people of Homestead.”
His application, which doesn’t mention the revamp of the country club, includes several changes on and around the golf course. These include:
▪ Taking about 11.4 acres off the perimeter of the course and using the land to extend the backyards of surrounding homes that will soon be built. The rezoning would also allow for more homes. Jim Fazio, the designer who would potentially be rehabilitating the course, says the extra acres aren’t needed for the golf course redesign and that using them that way would be “a waste of land.”
▪ Rezoning about 20-plus acres in the Park of Commerce, just east of Kingman Road and south of Canal Drive. That land is adjacent to a Budweiser warehouse and less than a mile from the hazard zones of the Homestead Air Reserve Base and the Homestead Speedway.
Right now, the land is zoned as “industrial.” Rosen wants it rezoned to “mixed-use,” which would allow for a blend of commercial and residential buildings, although Rosen has suggested making it all single-family homes.
We want our city to develop in a programmed way so it benefits the citizens. Not just look like you threw spaghetti against the wall.
Jerry Pinneke, zoning board member
Across the street from the Budweiser warehouse lie 36 acres that are currently zoned for school use. Miami Arts Charter School occupies nine of those acres. Rosen is asking to change the remaining 27 acres to mixed-use.
The zoning board turned their thumbs down on the proposal with a 3-2 vote.
Board member Jerry Pinneke said he has concerns about allowing homes so close to an air base and a race track.
“We want our city to develop in a programmed way so it benefits the citizens,” he said. “Not just look like you threw spaghetti against the wall.”
Another board member, Ronald Dorris, said he voted to move Rosen’s application forward because it was the “best chance to get the golf course reopened sooner.”
The city council is expected to discuss Rosen’s changes on Feb. 17.
On Wednesday night, Rosen, Fazio and Todd Walker — who would renovate Keys Gate’s clubhouse — discussed the improvements to the golf course at a meeting with more than 150 residents.
“It will be completely rebuilt, from the greens to the tees,” Rosen said. “There will be a new irrigation system. It will be regraded, completely recapped, resodded and completely rebuilt. The clubhouse will have everything new, hurricane windows, new carpet, new walls. We will keep the building’s shell and completely make it new again.”
No mention was made of the facelift being subject to the council’s approval of his zoning requests.
Ted Moscynski Jr., a resident of the Keys Gate neighborhood, said he is looking forward to the golf course being revamped because, he said, it will raise his property values.
“Our home values will finally, hopefully, get back to at least what is owed on them,” he said.