A highly anticipated discussion about the future of Homestead’s Keys Gate golf course has been postponed again, this time until April.
Developer Wayne Rosen on Thursday deferred the hot topic until the next council meeting on April 20. The subject will no longer be discussed on Wednesday, March 16. The item was initially to be discussed in February and is expected to bring in hundreds of heated residents.
Rosen has said his hope is to overturn a decision made by Homestead’s planning and zoning board, which would give him the green light on rezonings to build single-family homes near a beer warehouse, speedway and airbase.
He said he’ll pledge to renovate the rundown Keys Gate Golf and Country Club — only if council members pass his housing project.
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That made many council members unhappy and the project didn’t get much traction on the dais. Since then, the topic has sizzled some conversation in the community, with Keys Gate homeowners having mixed feelings.
Some residents agree with Rosen’s terms and even backed him by way of an online petition, asking neighbors to support his project in return for a new golf course. For weeks, many residents contacted council members, putting pressure on them to pass Rosen’s project.
The online petition asserts that upon the council’s OK, homeowners in exchange will get a “championship golf course” that will bring new jobs, draw tourism and increase property values.
So far, the petition has collected about 700 signatures out of it’s goal of 1,000. It’s unclear whether all who have signed are Homestead residents.
“I have owned a home in Northgate since 1989 and the Park of Commerce has basically remained empty since then,” homeowner Gordon Blowes said. “Please allow the rezoning to enhance our community and allow my wife and I and our children the ability to play golf in our own neighborhood. Thank you.”
Patrick Gleber, board director of the Keys Gate Community Association, was unavailable for comment Friday.
Other residents, however, think the project and the golf course renovation should be completely independent of each other, fearing that the development will cause density, infrastructure and traffic issues.
“These two issues (the golf course and the other industrial and commercial rezoning requests) should be reviewed, approved and/or rejected, separately on their own merit and not as a precondition to the other. We would strongly urge our Mayor and City Council to bifurcate these issues in order to prevent the unchecked and unwanted ‘Kendalization’ of Homestead,” said an email circulated by the Keys Gate Residents Association — an independent organization separate from the Keys Gate Homeowner’s Association.
Last month, Rosen promised the Keys Gate community that he would at last improve the golf course — a shuttered, overgrown expanse he owns in the city’s southeast section. That promise came two months after he angrily vowed to let the golf course “go brown.”
Rosen made the vow after he endured some ridicule following a news article reporting that he had asked Homestead for $3.5 million in federal anti-poverty dollars to improve the country club — and that the city council had given its OK.
That story in the Miami Herald led to blistering blog items and a critical piece on The Daily Beast website about well-to-do people using public money meant for the poor. 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 would have come in the form of a low-interest loan.
Two months later, Rosen was back and promising to fix up the golf course after all. But the promise came with a condition — that the council overturn a decision made by Homestead’s planning and zoning board.
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.
Rosen’s plan calls for:
▪ Taking about 11.4 acres off the perimeter of the course and using the land to extend the backyards of surrounding homes that would 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 “mixed use.” 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.
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 council discussion on April 20 will take place at Homestead’s new City Hall location, 100 Civic Ct., at 6 p.m.Monday.