Though there are challenges, Homestead has potential as does its commercial real estate market, particularly if it can be connected by rail to Miami’s core business districts, observers say.
The city that bills itself The Gateway to Everglades and Biscayne National Parks will be among the beneficiaries if Metrorail is extended at grade to Homestead and Florida City, currently part of the Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit Plan.
“Homestead is a tricky market,” said Robert Granda, director of retail investment sales at Franklin Street. “It’s one of the few cities in South Florida where you can still buy land, and it’s always been kind of old-school, geared to people who like a lot of land.”
But it will never appeal to millennials who don’t want to drive and who want to be near the heart of a thriving city, where every amenity is near.
“Because of that, Homestead is an outlier,” he said. “Some people will never go that far south, because you lose the economic drivers. It will grow at a slower pace, and probably won’t see the kind of transformation that the rest of Miami-Dade and Broward have.”
The city should try to attract major employers, perhaps with some sort of incentives, so that potential residents wouldn’t be dissuaded by long commutes, he said. “That density would attract better retailers, better types of businesses. Without retail, you don’t have development.”
“It’s a great city with great people, but for some, it will always be that place you drive through on your way to the Keys,” Mr. Granda said. “Homestead needs an identity touch-up.”