Article Courtesy of The Miami
By Monique O. Madan
Published February 28, 2017
Wayne Rosen, a well-known developer of upscale homes, kept his promise — well,
one of them.
After not getting the rezoning he requested last year to build single-family
homes in an industrial area, Rosen — who had vowed to let Homestead’s Keys Gate
Golf Course “go brown” — has not relented.
True to his word, the golf course today is indeed brown. But it’s not just a
matter of dead grass.
Piles of tree branches and trash have
overtaken tee boxes. Ponds and water hazards are surrounded
by knee-deep grass. Once-emerald fairways are now filled
with weeds and sand. Dilapidated bathrooms with collapsed
roofs are adorned with yellow police tape. Since the course
closed, city officials have dealt with nuisances like
slithering pythons, zooming ATV drivers and several
Shortly after purchasing the golf course in late 2013, Rosen
shut it down because he planned to fix it up and bring in
top-notch amenities. The course was built in the early
1990s, around the same time development was taking off. The
promise of a top-tier golf course was used as a selling
point, and oftentimes memberships were gifted to home buyers
by real estate agents.
“From my yard I see a very lonely scene,” said Thomas Tansey,
who purchased a home on the golf course in 2005. “We bought
this house with the promise of a pristine golf course, but
we were sold something that was ultimately taken away. You
would have thought the developer was kidding when he said he
would let it go bad. He wasn’t.”
Piles of branches and trash have overtaken tee boxes at
the Keys Gate Golf Course in Homestead.
Homeowners like Tansey say they are now battling dipping home values and
frequent crime and safety concerns.
“My house has decreased almost by about $100,000,” Tansey said. “To top it off,
every weekend, four-wheelers go to the back of the golf course, drive their
trucks and go mudding, turning it into their own personal track. Sometimes
you’ll also hear gunshots in the wind.”
According to Homestead police, in the last three months there have been three
burglaries, a narcotics arrest and two reports detailing a squatter and criminal
mischief at the golf course’s clubhouse.
“Since the course is not actively managed, the ATV riders feel that they can
ride over onto that property and discharge their firearms recreationally,” said
Homestead police Col. Scott Kennedy. “We’ve had reports of several wildlife
incidents, mainly snakes. At this point it’s more than just a nuisance. [It’s] a
On Feb. 23, the city issued several citations against the property for being a
public nuisance and a vacant property in overgrown condition and for having an
accumulation of garbage and junk and improper landscape maintenance.
Rosen did not respond to voicemails or text messages.
It was not the first time Rosen had vowed to let Homestead’s Keys Gate Golf
Course “go brown.” In 2015, just after the City Council voted to help him get a
$3.5 million low-interest loan to restore his deteriorating country club, Rosen
pulled out of the deal, blaming bad publicity from a Miami Herald article that
noted the federal anti-poverty dollars were earmarked for projects that would
eliminate slums or blight.
Two months later, Rosen came back, promising to fix up the golf course after
all. This time though, the promise came with a condition — zoning approvals to
build 91 single-family homes in an industrial area called the Park of Commerce,
which sits near the Homestead Miami Speedway, Homestead Air Base and a beer
Community meetings were held with hundreds of residents in attendance. Rosen
announced that big-time golf course designer Jim Fazio would be leading the golf
course’s makeover and presented sketches of the project.
The Council ultimately rezoned the property, but it wasn’t what Rosen had asked
for. Instead of allowing single-family homes, council members voted to let him
After more negotiations with Rosen, the council agreed to let him 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 the
Rosen, who has enjoyed unparalleled influence in the city, where he is
responsible for huge swaths of residential construction as well as charter
schools, didn’t budge though, saying that it’s the single-family homes — not
townhomes — that would pay for the $12 million golf course renovation.
“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,”
Rosen said at the time.
It wasn’t long before the Speedway jumped in, filing an appeal in circuit court
challenging the city’s decision to allow homes near an industrial site. The
track’s operators fear that if people live that close, they’ll complain about
noise and traffic and demand that the track’s operation be limited or even shut
“Residential encroachment will definitely impact us negatively,” said Al Garcia,
the Speedway’s vice president. “Residential encroachment has had a devastating
impact on similar race tracks across the country, leading to operating
restrictions and closures. This has nothing to do with golf. We are solely
objecting to residential development in the Park of Commerce, period.”
The Speedway claims Homestead was inconsistent with state law and its own city
code by not requiring a traffic study, along with other information, before
voting on the rezoning.
Homestead, which says the study wasn’t warranted, filed a motion for dismissal,
which is still pending.
Rosen hasn’t offered any answers to why he hasn’t started renovating the golf
“These two issues should be completely independent of each other,” said
Homestead Councilman Jon Burgess. “This is a private company that bought the
golf course knowing what needed to be done and hasn’t done it, which is fixing
it up or leaving it open; one or the other. Now residents are left with an
overgrown field in their backyard when they bought into a golf course
From the outskirts, the golf course looks acceptable. The property’s perimeter
is trimmed and looks operational from its main entrance. The ghostly clubhouse,
which once housed a restaurant, pool and banquet hall, sits boarded up and
But not even a covenant between the developer and the homeowners association
seems to have the power to make Rosen fix it. According to a Keys Gate Golf
Course covenant signed by Rosen, the golf course “shall at all times be
maintained, managed and operated.”
The document also details how the fairways, tees and greens should be
maintained. The five-page maintenance document also explains how the country
club should be operated year-round.
“For a private company to attempt to hold a city hostage is no way to do
business,” Burgess said. “I don’t know any city in the world where a developer
comes in and tells the council what to do so he can go and make money.”