The first Sips Coffee Roasters near Jackson Memorial on NW 7th Ave.

The first Sips Coffee Roasters near Jackson Memorial on NW 7th Ave.   

Homestead City Council meeting as the Community Redevelopment Agency Board approved a business incentive grant to a new business on Krome Avenue.

Sips Coffee Roasters opened its first shop in Miami two years ago on Seventh Avenue. It plans to move its headquarters to Homestead occupying two of the three bays that were formerly the Paramount Dance Studio at 128 N. Krome Avenue.

The business plan submitted requested a $60,000 CRA business incentive grant which Council approved unanimously. The proposal to Council touted South Florida’s only Black-owned coffee roaster business.

Working with their landlord, the applicants plan to convert retail space to a restaurant with estimated buildout costs of $285,000 for the 1700 square feet. Fixture and furniture costs are estimated at $150,000. The buildout is expected to take five to seven months and provide five construction jobs.

The owners negotiated a five year lease for the space with an option to renew.

Dr. Uchendu Azodo, a radiologist, bills himself as a “master coffee blender and roaster” and a “coffee educator”.

Gail Hamilton Azodo is an adjunct professor of hospitality and tourism at FIU, an experienced brand marketer, and the founder of the Knight Foundation’s hospitality incubator.

In addition to coffee roasting and a tasting room, the business partnered with the specialty donut and pastry operation Drip and Dough for sales at the location. Customers will be able to witness production of roasted coffee and fresh donuts. Sips also plans to host local meetings, conduct donut culinary classes, and provide youth hospitality internships.

A half ton coffee roaster is being designed in Turkey specifically for the new location.

“We work individually with farms in Latin American, South America, and Africa; farms that support their own families, and buy directly from them,” said Azodo.

Sips expects to create three full time and seven part time jobs with a focus on hiring local talent while providing specialty training to its own employees.

“It’s a heavy investment,” said Gail Azodo. “We want people to come and hang out on the park and think that will be a traffic driver.” A mural is to be commissioned from a local artist for the exterior wall. The full service café will have indoor and outdoor seating.

“We truly belief that area lends itself to what you might see in Coral Gables, a walkable street area where people want to hang out,” she said.

Prior to approval, Mayor Steve Losner said, “I have a gut feeling this will be the nucleus of lots of niche specialty eating and drinking establishments to line our downtown.”

“Looking at your plans, I see an expense for $80,000 of impact fees,” added Losner. “That’s a lot of money for a building that already exists and a lot of fees going out to a massive bureaucracy at the County. That’s astounding!”

The Mayor was told those County fees were applied to a retail conversion already done at $62 a square foot, redone to a restaurant at a discounted $40 per square foot. The CRA Director spoke about potential legislation to recreate enterprise zones that would allow the County to rebate some of the fees.

Councilmember Larry Roth was appalled. “I’m disturbed to my core!” he said.

“For a 2,000 square feet building to absorb $40 a square foot in impact fees is unreasonable; I can’t imagine it.” He asked staff for a breakdown of County impact fees to understand how they charge.

Councilmember Jenifer Bailey said she like the idea of a mural for the wall facing the Park.

However, Councilmember Roth pointed out that plans for Losner Park call for construction that would cover up that wall. The CRA told Council the mural idea was not set in stone.

Mayor Losner said, “I’m sensitive to whatever goes on that wall be compatible with the architecture, feel, and design of the Park. We designated a board of people to serve as an art in public places committee and I would appreciate having their input into the artistic appropriateness of that mural.”

As Special Call business, Council was asked to authorize the City Manager to negotiate agreements to administer vaccination distribution sites in the City.

City Manager Cate McCaffrey explained the process, registration with the County and an agreement with the Florida Department of Health, as well as the steps necessary for medical providers to provide for vaccine administration. Actual costs are unknown but the Manager felt costs would ultimately be covered by FEMA or COVID relief funds.

“To be clear,” said Mayor Losner, “this positions us to be ready to go at such time as the supply becomes available.”

Council approved the measure unanimously. A brief discussion was held about vaccination through the state faith–based program with churches as distribution sites. A total of 997 vaccines were given this past weekend in Homestead through that program but with very little public notice.

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