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Can't find any other decent Homestead threads so here's a new one. If you haven't been down there lately, you'll be suprised. Most of it is really nasty looking sprawl but it is "affordable" by South Florida standards.



http://www.miamiherald.com/460/story/153766.html

Homestead growth upstages Broward
BY REBECCA DELLAGLORIA, TIM HENDERSON AND LISA ARTHUR
Fifteen years after Hurricane Andrew pummeled Homestead and sent thousands of its residents fleeing north, the plucky city has cracked a population milestone and claimed the title of the fastest-growing community of its size in the country, according to a Census Bureau report released today.

New population estimates put Homestead at 53,767 residents in July 2006, up 21 percent from the previous July. It's the first time the city has been recognized by any outside agency as having a population of more than 50,000.

''It confirms what we knew; we just needed to get it validated,'' said a jubilant Homestead Mayor Roscoe Warren. ``We're on our way. We are on our way.''

In Florida, Homestead jumped into the state's top 50 cities, leapfrogging past Sarasota, Jupiter and Coconut Creek. It had already passed Coral Gables.

Elsewhere in the region, once-hot growth spots in South Broward -- which absorbed thousands of residents who fled South Dade after Andrew -- are now losing a small percentage of their population, according to the Census report.

EXPECTED BENEFITS

Among the perks of Homestead passing the 50,000 mark: It will gain a seat on Miami-Dade's Metropolitan Planning Organization, the county's transportation planning arm.

And, perhaps more important to residents, the city may finally attract retailers and businesses that have stayed away since Andrew leveled much of Homestead in August 1992.

In the past, when retailers evaluated Homestead as a potential location, low population numbers discouraged investment, said city spokeswoman Lillian Delgado.

''That doesn't signify what is actually happening here,'' she said.

Mark Demont, 47, said he is waiting for the day that an upscale restaurant opens in his city.

''Right now, it's pretty much Chili's,'' Demont said of the city's available restaurant options.

Iliana Lara, who left a job at Baptist Hospital because the commute from Homestead was too much, said the city needs more jobs ``so people won't have to travel so far for work.''

But not everyone is pro-growth. Some don't like the city's transformation from quaint farming town to sprawling suburban bedroom community.

CRITICISM

Just ask Carrie Dennis, who moved to Homestead from Chicago eight years ago.

''I don't like it at all,'' said Dennis, 30, who commutes daily to her job as a purchasing agent at Ocean Reef in Key Largo. ``We don't need another Kendall.''

Dennis scanned the newly minted Oasis shopping plaza in East Homestead, an area that has seen an unprecedented surge of residential development over the past several years.

Lamenting that one plaza had three banks open or under construction, she looked over at the still-empty field next door and wondered what's next.

Others say growth is fine but that the city should have done a better job planning for it.

''They need to look at other areas; they need to go to places like Weston,'' said Pat Pascuzzo of Homestead, a frequent government critic. ``Places that have a lot of people that have had the infrastructure in place before the people get there. It makes a world of difference.''

PLANNING ISSUES

Indeed, more than 7,000 homes have been built in Homestead during the past three years, but large-scale roadway improvements are just now being planned. Over the next five years, city officials will spend about $50 million on road projects and traffic signal improvements, said City Manager Curt Ivy.

The problem, Ivy said, is that the people have to be in place before funding can be justified for projects like streets and drainage.

''You reach that critical mass, and then you start working on it,'' he said.

Despite the growing pains, Pat Wilkes, who lives in one of the newer developments, Keys Landings, said she is happy she made the move.

The reason: Her $145,000 pre-construction home was a bargain in South Florida.

''No family could have owned a house anywhere three years ago unless they came to Homestead -- at least a house they could afford,'' Wilkes said.
 

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Can't any other decent Homestead threads so here's a new one. If you haven't been down there lately, you'll be suprised. Most of it is really nasty looking sprawl but it is "affordable" by South Florida standards.



http://www.miamiherald.com/460/story/153766.html

Homestead growth upstages Broward
BY REBECCA DELLAGLORIA, TIM HENDERSON AND LISA ARTHUR
Fifteen years after Hurricane Andrew pummeled Homestead and sent thousands of its residents fleeing north, the plucky city has cracked a population milestone and claimed the title of the fastest-growing community of its size in the country, according to a Census Bureau report released today.

New population estimates put Homestead at 53,767 residents in July 2006, up 21 percent from the previous July. It's the first time the city has been recognized by any outside agency as having a population of more than 50,000.

''It confirms what we knew; we just needed to get it validated,'' said a jubilant Homestead Mayor Roscoe Warren. ``We're on our way. We are on our way.''

In Florida, Homestead jumped into the state's top 50 cities, leapfrogging past Sarasota, Jupiter and Coconut Creek. It had already passed Coral Gables.

Elsewhere in the region, once-hot growth spots in South Broward -- which absorbed thousands of residents who fled South Dade after Andrew -- are now losing a small percentage of their population, according to the Census report.

EXPECTED BENEFITS

Among the perks of Homestead passing the 50,000 mark: It will gain a seat on Miami-Dade's Metropolitan Planning Organization, the county's transportation planning arm.

And, perhaps more important to residents, the city may finally attract retailers and businesses that have stayed away since Andrew leveled much of Homestead in August 1992.

In the past, when retailers evaluated Homestead as a potential location, low population numbers discouraged investment, said city spokeswoman Lillian Delgado.

''That doesn't signify what is actually happening here,'' she said.

Mark Demont, 47, said he is waiting for the day that an upscale restaurant opens in his city.

''Right now, it's pretty much Chili's,'' Demont said of the city's available restaurant options.

Iliana Lara, who left a job at Baptist Hospital because the commute from Homestead was too much, said the city needs more jobs ``so people won't have to travel so far for work.''

But not everyone is pro-growth. Some don't like the city's transformation from quaint farming town to sprawling suburban bedroom community.

CRITICISM

Just ask Carrie Dennis, who moved to Homestead from Chicago eight years ago.

''I don't like it at all,'' said Dennis, 30, who commutes daily to her job as a purchasing agent at Ocean Reef in Key Largo. ``We don't need another Kendall.''

Dennis scanned the newly minted Oasis shopping plaza in East Homestead, an area that has seen an unprecedented surge of residential development over the past several years.

Lamenting that one plaza had three banks open or under construction, she looked over at the still-empty field next door and wondered what's next.

Others say growth is fine but that the city should have done a better job planning for it.

''They need to look at other areas; they need to go to places like Weston,'' said Pat Pascuzzo of Homestead, a frequent government critic. ``Places that have a lot of people that have had the infrastructure in place before the people get there. It makes a world of difference.''

PLANNING ISSUES

Indeed, more than 7,000 homes have been built in Homestead during the past three years, but large-scale roadway improvements are just now being planned. Over the next five years, city officials will spend about $50 million on road projects and traffic signal improvements, said City Manager Curt Ivy.

The problem, Ivy said, is that the people have to be in place before funding can be justified for projects like streets and drainage.

''You reach that critical mass, and then you start working on it,'' he said.

Despite the growing pains, Pat Wilkes, who lives in one of the newer developments, Keys Landings, said she is happy she made the move.

The reason: Her $145,000 pre-construction home was a bargain in South Florida.

''No family could have owned a house anywhere three years ago unless they came to Homestead -- at least a house they could afford,'' Wilkes said.
Of course this is great news for Homestead -- an area devastated by Andrew in '92. The area is on the path to recovery, but its recovery now depends upon two things: jobs and a VAST improvement in terms of transport. As I mentioned in an earlier thread, I'd love to see Tri-Rail extended as far south as Homestead (it's probably too much of a distance for Metrorail). This would avoid the area becoming "Kendall Part II". A rail link to Miami would make Homestead far easier to commute to/from and more people would choose to move there.

There are actually some very nice parts of Homestead, with many new "cookie cutter" type houses. However, I wouldn't want to do that commute every day (not until transport links are vastly improved).
 
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