Beacon Council, land institute set to help redevelop Homestead Air Force Base
Miami-Dade commissioners on Tuesday are to vote to hire the Beacon Council, the county's economic development organization, to prepare a re-use plan for part of the former Homestead Air Force Base.
The council plans to hire the nonpartisan Urban Land Institute to study the site and with a consultant recommend a use for the 717 acres that the federal government has not targeted for other purposes. That plan would then go to Washington, DC in a bid to acquire the land.
The Beacon Council's directors on Friday unanimously approved negotiation of contracts with both the county and the Urban Land Institute. The county commission had already approved the concept.
Meanwhile, the county is pursuing two parallel strategies.
In the courts, the county is seeking not just the 717 acres but virtually the entire former base for the private Homestead Air Base Developers Inc. Last month, a federal judge rejected initial arguments in that case, but efforts continue in the county attorney's office.
Commissioner Katy Sorenson failed last month in her attempt to halt the county's legal action.
In another strategy, Mayor Alex Penelas and County Manager Steve Shiver went to Washington last week to propose that the development company, HABDI, be allowed to develop the whole base but on a smaller scale of use than originally proposed. The Air Force has not replied.
In the deal to be discussed Tuesday, the Beacon Council would receive up to $500,000 to study uses and prepare a proposal for federal review. It would spend $400,000 on consultants, including the Urban Land Institute, and keep $100,000 for its research department, which would provide economic data for the proposal.
In asking his board to approve the contract proposal with the county, Beacon Council President Frank Nero noted that if it did not approve, the council would nonetheless be asked to do research with no remuneration. More than half the council's budget comes from occupational license tax fees, which are controlled by the county commission.
The federal government gave the county until Oct. 10 to prepare a proposal for use of the 717 acres. But Diana M. Gonzalez of The Consulting Group, a consultant to the Beacon Council, told the council's board that the county is expected to request, and receive, a two-month extension.
Under its plan, the Beacon Council would select an economic consultant this month and compile a briefing book for eight to 10 members of the Urban Land Institute - all real estate professionals - who would come to Miami Sept. 9 to 14 to view the site and make a report by Sept. 28.
All panelists would be from out of town, Mr. Nero said.
Based on that plan, a consultant under contract to the council would prepare a business and operations plan for the site in October. County commissioners in November would review the plan and the application to the Air Force for the 717 acres - assuming neither of the other two county efforts to obtain the whole base had succeeded by then.
The report is due at the Defense Department in Washington in December.