Catering to the large number of health professionals working in the area, Mast Capital and AEW Capital Management’s Miami River Walk project broke ground at the beginning of this year. The joint venture secured a $59.7 million construction loan from PNC Bank for Mast’s largest ground-up project to date. Located on the south bank of the Miami River, in an urban transit zone, the development is set to feature 27 percent fewer units than allowed under the Miami 21 zoning code.
In an interview with Multi-Housing News, Mast Capital CEO Camilo Miguel Jr. explains how Miami River Walk can act as a catalyst for the transformation of the river and its immediate surroundings.
What is the current status of the project? Please tell us more about the next phases of development.
Miguel: We broke ground in January and we’ll be developing the project in two phases: Phase 1 will consist of 346 rental units and is expected to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2020. Plans for Phase 2 currently contemplate an additional 342 multifamily units. The project will collectively feature approximately 20,000 square feet of amenity space and include a full-suite of Class A amenities, such as a swimming pool, state-of-the-art fitness center, game room and package locker rooms.
In addition, the site’s large footprint and location provides the opportunity to offer unique amenities, including a private park for exclusive use by residents and a complimentary water shuttle to nearby restaurants and attractions that leverage the property’s distinct feature: its location within the burgeoning Miami River district, with over 1,000 linear feet of direct water frontage.
How is the Miami River Walk project different from other waterfront projects in the metro?
Miguel: Many of the residential developments along Miami’s waterfront are 20-story plus, high-rise projects. While our site has as-of-right density of 946 units and was previously approved for two 27-story towers, we placed high importance on designing this project to better fit the context of the neighborhood in terms of scale and aesthetic.
The site’s large footprint enables us to develop a project with significantly lower density and height than what is permitted under the in-place zoning, maintaining light and air in the community, while the nautical design elements complement the marine uses that have historically characterized the neighborhood. Our project will have a much more open feel than most waterfront projects in Miami, with eight stories and articulation onto open spaces along a promenade and the Riverwalk.
Please expand on the sustainable features of the development.
Miguel: We think about sustainability holistically and this project incorporates sustainable elements on multiple levels. Most explicitly, the project is rated Silver by the National Green Building Standard, incorporating specs such as Energy Star-rated appliances, WaterSense plumbing fixtures and low-emissivity glass, which reduces cooling requirements and energy consumption. The project also achieves “green” objectives in other ways by maintaining open green space with a private 1-acre park for residents and by reducing the need for automotive transportation.
The project is positioned to cater to the tens of thousands of workers in the nearby Health District, which is highly accessible without a car, whether by walking, public trolley or partaking in the new scooter rental phenomenon that’s quickly taking over Miami. Easy access to public transit will be complemented by our free water shuttle service that will operate at certain times for residents to access nearby attractions on the river.
How does the project complement Miami’s Health District and the Downtown/Brickell CBD area?
Miguel: Our project is located approximately one and a half miles from Downtown, two miles from Brickell and half a mile from the Miami Health District, which together comprise more than 25 million square feet of office space. The Miami Health District is the second largest medical district in the country, yet it’s underserved in terms of quality, nearby housing.
Our proximity to Miami’s largest employment centers will enable us to provide accessible housing options and convenient commute for a significant share of the metro area’s workforce. In addition, our project will also be a part of the Riverwalk that will eventually connect to Downtown/Brickell via a continuous pedestrian walkway along the Miami River. To that end, we are improving the 1,000 plus linear feet of Riverwalk on our site, which will seamlessly connect to our neighbors along the river.
Why did you decide to invest in a Miami waterfront development?
Miguel: Surprisingly, it wasn’t the waterfront aspect that made us excited about this project. Common threads across Mast Capital’s investments involve uncovering underserved market niches and opportunities to create what we call the “convenience factor,” which includes providing high walkability to nearby hotspots, offering thoughtful, experiential amenities for residents and their guests and being located near public transportation systems.
We knew it presented an immense opportunity to create a convenient option for this major employment center while being part of the transformation that’s happening along the Miami River. Thus, the primary factor was value creation to the community and local workforce, with the waterfront being a highly appealing secondary consideration.
How do you expect waterfront projects to evolve in the metro going forward?
Miguel: We expect to see continued growth for sites along the Miami River, as oceanfront opportunities have become scarce and expensive. Residents are increasingly looking to live in urban areas in which the location is an amenity in itself. As the Miami River continues its transformation by offering more dining, retail and entertainment, it will undoubtedly attract more and more developers and residents to this area.