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$380M Development Bringing Rentals, Retail to Miami Riverfront

River Landing Shops and Residences to Serve City's Health / Civic District
April 18, 2018

Photo Credit: River Landing Development LLC.

The banks along the Miami River are mostly closed off to the public. Developer Andrew Hellinger is determined to fix that.

“It’s not as inviting as it ought to be,” said Hellinger. “What we’re trying to do is open up the river and invite the people of Miami-Dade County to come hang out with us.”

Hellinger's $380 million River Landing Shops and Residences is under construction along the river's north bank, at 1400 NW N. River Dr. The mixed-used project, just west of Miami’s Health District / Civic Center, will include 418,000 square feet of retail space, 503 apartments and a riverwalk park.

Miami's Health District / Civic Center neighborhood, which claims to have the second largest concentration of medical research facilities in the country after Houston, is bordered on the south and west by the Miami River. The area is a major employment base comprised of hospitals, biotechnology and medical research institutes, clinics and government offices, including Jackson Memorial Hospital, Florida International University School of Medicine and the University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park.

The retail portion of the new mixed-use development is expected to open late next year with a handful of anchor tenants, including a Publix Super Market, Burlington Coat Factory, TJ Maxx and Hobby Lobby. The residential rentals are due to follow in early 2020.

Each of the five levels of retail has a theme, explained Hellinger, River Landing Development LLC's managing partner. A Publix supermarket and restaurants will anchor the ground floor, while Ross Dress for Less, Burlington Coat Factory and other soft goods retailers occupying the upper floors. The top floor may include office space, though Hellinger said a final decision has not yet been made.

Hellinger hasn’t yet set rents for the apartments, but he said they will be affordable for medical students, healthcare workers and other professionals who want to live within walking distance of the district.

No other major development has served the Health District / Civic Center district specifically, notes Hellinger, who added that the district "lacked the retail and basic services that go along with an urban fabric."

In the earliest days of the city, the Miami River was the center of commerce and was where wealthy residents chose to live. But as the downtown and suburbs developed, the river fell into disrepair.

In 1998, the Florida Legislature created the Miami River Commission to improve the 5.5-mile waterway and the immediate area. An initial wave of development started in 2000, with the commission encouraging mixed uses to make the river a destination again.

Bruno Barreiro, a former Miami-Dade commissioner who resigned March 31 to run for Congress, said he supported River Landing from the beginning.

“It adds opportunities, [property] values and jobs for that whole area,” he said. “On the north side of the river, there has not been that much development. And this will definitely spur more.”

River Landing is one of a dozen projects proposed, under construction or recently completed along the river, according to the Miami River Commission, a nonprofit agency that oversees the surrounding area. The recent development boom will bring more than 6,100 residential units and 750 hotel rooms to the river; though River Landing will be the closest to the city's Health / Civic district.

River Landing Development LLC.

Horacio Stuart Aguirre, chairman of the commission, said River Landing will be built at one of the widest parts of the river and will include wide walkways and attractive facades facing the water.

“It was designed beautifully to be appreciated by the water,” Aguirre said. “It’s a prime, prime site. I think what we are hoping to see are a mix of retailers that will encourage casual shopping and, immediately afterward, casual dining and lounging.”

Still, employees in the district are used to leaving the area at the end of the day, so it will take time for Hellinger and development partner Coralee Penabad to change consumer mindsets and show people that they can stay, eat and shop in the neighborhood, Aguirre said.

“I think it’ll work, but [Hellinger and Penabad] will have to be patient,” Aguirre said.

Hellinger said he expects the River Landing apartments to be a major draw, adding that most of the new condominiums and apartments in and around downtown Miami cater to luxury residents.

A mixed-use development is sorely needed to serve the Health / Civic district, and having the Miami River as a backdrop is a major advantage, according to Hellinger.

“Our amenities will set us apart,” he said.

Paul Owers, South Florida Market Reporter  CoStar Group   
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