Homestead - South Dade

Homestead developer has ‘no answers’ on the future of golf course

Wayne Rosen bought the Keys Gate Golf Course and closed it in 2014.
Wayne Rosen bought the Keys Gate Golf Course and closed it in 2014.

Wayne Rosen won final Homestead City Council approval on a zoning application — controversial because it proposed putting homes next to an industrial area — after he promised residents that in return he would revamp and reopen the golf course he had closed.

Now, some residents and council members are questioning whether he will follow through after the council passed his proposal — with changes — last week.

“I don’t think he has any intention whatsoever about building this golf course,” said Jerry Pinneke, who sits on the Homestead planning and zoning board. “He doesn’t have a plan. He hasn’t presented anything. The council caved on him. At no time did he ever commit to ever building a golf course. He said he would do this, and he said he would do that, but there’s nothing in writing that says that.”

When asked about the future of Homestead’s Keys Gate Golf Course, which he bought and closed in 2014, Rosen offered no information.

No answers. That’s my answer, no answer.

Developer Wayne Rosen

“No answers,” Rosen said before hanging up on a Miami Herald reporter. “That’s my answer, no answer.”

The Herald placed two more calls and left a message for Rosen, but received no response.

Courting community support, Rosen told residents at a town hall meeting early this year that he would pay big-time golf course designer Jim Fazio to rehabilitate the course, using $12 million of his own money to do it, contingent on the council passing the whole package.

In March, hundreds of residents signed a petition pushing the council to support Rosen, saying they were eager for the golf course because it would spur economic development.

Last month, Rosen told the Miami Herald that if the Homestead City Council passed his zoning application, he would renovate the rundown Keys Gate Golf and Country Club.

The golf course is not mentioned in his application.

“I really hope that he follows through, because he made that commitment verbally to us that night at the clubhouse,” said resident Maria VanName. “Today, I really have that feeling that he won’t, but I am very hopeful and wish he does. Right now I’m here, and it’s barren.”

The council approved the rezoning on May 18, with some conditions. The vote was 4-2 with Councilmen Stephen Shelley and Jon Burgess dissenting. Councilman Jimmie Williams recused himself due to previous conflicts of interest with Rosen.

But the council didn’t give Rosen everything he asked for.

Rosen’s proposal was to build 91 single-family homes on 20 acres in the Park of Commerce, just east of Kingman Road and south of Canal Drive. In addition, he would trim 11.4 acres off the perimeter of the course to build more single-family homes. He asked the city to change the zoning definition of “mixed use” for about 20-plus acres in the Park of Commerce so that he wouldn’t have to build a combination of commercial, multi-family and single-family homes, but instead could build any of those categories without building all of them.

The council denied Rosen’s request to build single-family homes in the Park of Commerce and said he would have to build apartments. Fifteen percent of the development will have to be rezoned commercial. The 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

Instead, after negotiating with Rosen, the council allowed him to build single-family homes on 70 acres just west of the Park of Commerce, an area that previously did not allow for single-family homes and was not part of Rosen’s proposal.

Some council members and residents criticized Rosen for not putting his promise to renovate the golf course in writing.

Shelley, one of the council members who voted against the rezoning, told the Miami Herald he couldn’t support changing the definition of mixed-use for the developer because it would give Rosen, along with future developers “too much power to build whatever they want.”

“I couldn’t make a decision strictly to benefit a project that may or not occur. I had to make the decision based on long-term planning,” Shelley said. “ I support the golf course, I’d love to see that product be built.”

Vice Mayor Patricia Fairclough disagreed with Shelley. After the council had voted to exclude single-family homes from being built in the Park of Commerce, she made a motion to undo it.

“I propose that we put the single-family back in the designation so that we can move this golf course forward and not be further delayed,” she said.

Hugo Arza, Rosen’s registered lobbyist, said, “We agree with the vice mayor’s suggestion.”

The motion failed.

It’s unclear whether Rosen still plans to remodel the golf course, considering that the council didn’t fully pass his requests the way they came in.

In April he told the Herald: “You have to understand this is all revenue-driven,” adding that he didn’t have a timeline for renovating the course. “We’re concerned about rainy season, so we don’t have a specific date.

“You have to understand that you can’t ask me to build a golf course without having those single-family homes to help pay for it. It’s called cash flow.”

But questions about the golf course aren’t the only sources of pushback for Rosen. During the five-hour zoning meeting, Al Garcia, Homestead Miami Speedway’s vice president, said the Speedway was disappointed with the council’s vote and is evaluating whether legal action can be taken.

“We are very concerned about residential encroachment,” Garcia said. “We are very similar to an airport. If residents move too close to us, they’ll start complaining about noise and traffic, and that will have an adverse effect on our business.”

Monique O. Madan: 305-376-2108, @MoniqueOMadan