Miami’s $425M Project: Where Urban Living Meets the River

UrbanX Group’s Andrew Hellinger reveals the details behind one of Miami’s hottest projects: River Landing Shops and Residences, located on the Miami River.
Rendering of River Landing Shops and Residences
Rendering of River Landing Shops and Residences

Currently under construction, River Landing Shops and Residences, located at 1500 NW North River Drive, on the Miami River, is set to be one of Miami’s hottest projects. The development, scheduled for completion in 2020, will include 529 residential units and approximately 345,000 square feet of retail space. So far, roughly $117.4 million have been invested in the development, out of the total estimated cost of $424.8 million, according to developer UrbanX Group’s Andrew Hellinger. In an interview with Multi-Housing News, Hellinger shares project insights and evaluates how the massive project will influence the Miami market.

What innovations does the residential part of River Landing bring to the market? 

Hellinger: The final amenity packages for the residential part of River Landing are under development and not completed yet. However, the amenity deck will include an indoor and outdoor fitness center that is currently in design. We are also planning to have our tenants benefit from the retail project. For example, having restaurants deliver directly to apartments. The project will include a riverwalk with a park open to the public that will give access to the retail portion of the project. Another amenity will include electric car stations and each unit will have internet service. We will launch leasing in about a year. 

How is this development suitable for Millennials?

Hellinger: Millennials are known as the social generation, and they want to live and play where they work. They also seek new and authentic experiences. River Landing will create a retail oasis and provide market-rate housing options to doctors, University of Miami medical students, nurses, judges, lawyers etc. in a unique environment on the Miami River.

The ground floor of the project will have a variety of restaurants—from casual and fine dining to chef-driven concepts—with indoor and outdoor seating, opening to a landscaped linear park inspired by Manhattan’s High Line. We seek to offer retail options that our shoppers care about, including retailers that cater to Millennials that are health-conscious, tech-savvy, foodies and more.

What types of amenities are now trending? Will we find them at River Landing?

Hellinger: The main amenity that is trending in Miami is access to the water. The project will open public access to the scenic Miami River through its landscaped riverfront park. The park will provide a unique experience for residents and the public, and will enhance the historical character of the Miami River, while preserving and protecting the commercial nature of the river. In addition to creating a riverfront park that the public can enjoy, it will also provide boaters access to River Landing’s retail and restaurants. We will also have a park where we plan to host movie nights and community events. One important amenity is the ample parking. Another will be interconnectivity to the retail center which will include a grocery store.

Why did you choose Miami’s Health District for River Landing Shops and Residences? What attracts retailers and investors to this neighborhood?

Hellinger: We chose this location because it has one of the largest daytime populations in South Florida and is in the heart of Miami, minutes from Downtown Miami, Little Havana, Wynwood and the Miami International Airport. Another factor that retailers like about the Health District is the huge barrier to entry to this neighborhood, making it difficult for competitors to open shop near them. River Landing Shops and Residences is the first large-scale project to enter this submarket and is filling an existing gap by bringing 2.5 million square feet of residential and retail to the area.

River Landing, with 850 linear feet along the river, will include a restaurant row along a waterfront linear park. We want to complement the dining and entertainment options that are currently flourishing on the river, including Seaspice, Kiki on the River, Crust and Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish. Today, a big part of fine dining is the experience, the ambiance, and our location offers that. This location is a huge draw for Millennials who prefer urban settings with lots of cool space for socializing and enjoying life.  

Case in point: More than 60 percent of our 412,000-square-foot retail space is already leased by regional and national retailers such as Publix Super Markets, Burlington Stores, TJ Maxx, West Marine and Ross Dress For Less. Retailers like this area because of the exposure they can get from the nearby highways and its easy access via car, boat and mass transit. Miami continues to be car-dependent, so River Landing will offer more than 2,200 parking spaces.

What can you tell us about demand for multifamily units in the area where the project is being developed?

Hellinger: River Landing is located in Miami’s Health District, one of South Florida’s largest employment centers. It is immediately west of downtown Miami and along the revitalized Miami River. More than 70,000 people descend on the Health District every day, including attorneys, medical professionals and students, and court and county employees. The demand for market-rate housing in this area is significant because there hasn’t been a lot of new construction in decades. Millennials prefer to live near their work, so they are an important target for this project. Retailers know that and they want to be where their customers are. 

Tell us more about what is behind Miami River’s growing popularity.

Hellinger: The Rubell Family Collection is moving its art museum to the area after 24 years in Wynwood. New York designer Naeem Khan is moving his headquarters to Miami and he is also building a high school next door for students who want to study fashion. Moishe Mana continues to expand its holdings in the area.

Miami Beach developer Robert Wennett is turning older properties into a 1.4 million-square-foot mixed-use project. The project is designed by world-renowned luxury architect Bjarke Ingels and would include 1,200 residential units, 239,886 square feet of offices, 227 hotel rooms, 74,800 square feet of retail and 76,347 square feet for schools. Our neighbor, RMK Merrill-Stevens, is undergoing a $30 million renovation. Additionally, two multifamily projects have been announced on the south side of the river. 

The renewed interest for the area has put an upward pressure on land values around River Landing, especially in Allapattah. According to research from Colliers International South Florida, the sales price per square foot of commercial space in Allapattah has increased from $58.4 in 2014 to $275 in 2018.

How is River Landing impacting surrounding communities?

Hellinger: The amount of private and public investment pouring into Allapattah, for example, is a sign that River Landing is acting as a catalyst for change. We all saw how Midtown Miami ignited Wynwood’s transformation to a point that Wynwood became one of Miami’s trendiest neighborhoods. As the prices of land in downtown Miami, Wynwood and Edgewater keep rising, more investors and developers will continue to go west into the Health District and Allapattah.

How does River Landing expect to draw patrons in the age of e-commerce?

Hellinger: First of all, our retail space and restaurant row were designed to create a shopping and dining experience that cannot be duplicated in the online world. Second, we are fortunate to have the strongest retailers in our roster that are not adversely affected by e-commerce. We believe that these chains are successful because they understand their customers. Our stores are successful because they know what their customers want. Because these retailers change their merchandise frequently, shoppers can visit River Landing daily for this unique shopping experience. Annually, Miami receives thousands of tourists looking for the best deals and luckily, we are conveniently located less than 5 miles away from the airport making us a one-stop destination for all shoppers.

We are also talking with dining operators and other experiential-focused tenants that will bring a new concept to the Miami River. We want our visitors to feel comfortable and give them access, in a convenient way, to all the stores that can cover their basic needs and wants.

We are also very selective with the tenants we bring to the project to make sure the tenant mix complements, rather than competes, with e-commerce. Nearly 60 percent of the project is preleased, and we are looking to complete our roster with retail that brings convenience to our shoppers in areas such as fitness, beauty and spa, electronics, food and entertainment.

Rendering courtesy of UrbanX Group