Amazon’s plan for massive warehouse heats up Homestead industrial market

Amazon’s presence could push industrial rents higher, brokers say

Rendering of the project
Rendering of the project

About two months after Amazon secured approval for what could be its largest distribution warehouse yet in South Florida, commissioners will vote on whether to approve a second e-commerce development on Homestead-Miami Speedway land.

Homestead’s Planning & Zoning Board approved plans Tuesday for a 145,000-square-foot distribution facility west of the motor racing track. Though the tenant has not been disclosed, the developer, Hillwood, has built Amazon warehouses in the past.

Population growth has fueled the housing market in South Dade, and now those residents have attracted Amazon and other online retailers, experts say.

In July, Miami-Dade County commissioners approved selling the vacant property at 13200 Southwest 272nd Street in Homestead to Amazon, paving the way for a distribution center with at least 1 million square feet. Amazon is set to pay the county $22.1 million for the property, and could $80 million into the development.

George Pino, president of Doral-based State Street Realty, said there’s increased demand from consumers to get their packages within 24 hours. E-commerce giants such as Amazon have been on the hunt for last-mile warehouse space in Homestead and the surrounding area.

“What we have is what we have. It’s hard to find 20 to 40 acres of land in Miami-Dade,” Pino said.

Since Hurricane Andrew devastated South Dade in 1992, and following the housing collapse more than a decade ago, the market has bounced back. Available and less expensive land has attracted developers and homebuyers to the area.

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“We’ve seen a reverse migration,” said Jonathan Kingsley, who leads Colliers International’s South Florida brokerage team. “Homestead has flourished. It’s got the infrastructure, it’s safer, it’s got new parks.”

Amazon’s presence could push industrial rents higher. In the second quarter, the vacancy rate was 2 percent with only 38,000 square feet of warehouse space under construction, according to data from Colliers International. Asking rents are $13.81 per square foot, up 4 percent from the previous quarter and up almost 10 percent year over year.

A spokesperson for Amazon said the company doesn’t comment on future projects, but said the land purchase announced in July “provides us with the flexibility to quickly respond to our future network needs.”

The area continues to get more developed. Within eight miles of the future Amazon site, homebuilder D.R. Horton paid $11.5 million for more than 25 acres in Florida City last year. Also nearby, Miami-based Lennar Corp. launched sales last year for a 43-home community, and acquired roughly 85 acres west of Southwest 152nd Avenue in Homestead for another development.

At Tuesday’s meeting, board members questioned the traffic impact the project will create, but praised the addition of 466 full-time employees once the warehouse is operational.

Amazon’s hiring plans will likely spark interest in nearby rental and for-sale housing, as well as lead to new leases from third-party logistics companies that service e-commerce, brokers say.

“Amazon is the shark,” Kingsley said. “These are the remoras [ray-finned fish] that come along and need to be close by.”