The $ 452 million River Landing Shops & Residences on the Miami River opened gradually, starting with retailers, despite the coronavirus pandemic having hit pedestrian traffic hard.
The 8.14-acre project, visible north of the Dolphin Expressway, has 345,000 square feet of retail and other commercial space, 135,000 square feet of office space, 528 off-market apartments, and more than 2,000 parking spaces along a 25 foot wide river walkway.
The 2.2 million square foot facility is located at 1400 NW North River Drive, the former home of the Mahi Shrine Auditorium.
The store openings are an important step forward for a project that began almost a decade ago.
"Welcoming the opening of our first retail tenant is the culmination of a process that began almost a decade ago when we first signed a contract with the old Mahi Shrine Auditorium location in 2011," said Coralee Penabad, co-principal of developer Urban -X Group in Miami said in a press release.
The retailers' Hobby Lobby and Burlington stores opened last Thursday. Next up is Publix, which opens on Thursday, followed by Chase Bank on Monday, Five Below on September 28th, and AT&T on October 1st.
In the coming months, Ross Dress for Less, Planet Fitness, TJ Maxx, Old Navy, Chick-Fil-A and New York's famous Ficelles Bakery will open retrospectively.
River Landing has built in roadside pick-up areas as consumers increasingly choose to order and collect goods online while maintaining social distance during the coronavirus pandemic.
Negotiations with restaurants slated to open next year continue in the hopes that by then the COVID-19 cases will subside and diners would feel more secure eating out.
"The pandemic has slowed our negotiations with retail restaurant tenants, but as we have better control of COVID retailers are now seeing increasing demand and are optimistic about 2021," said Andrew Hellinger, co-principal of Urban-X, in Prepared Remarks .
A 25,500-square-meter restaurant can be divided into seven concept restaurants, ranging from fine dining to casual and familiar outlets.
Apartment rentals started this month with occupancy next month.
Stephen Rutchik, Executive Managing Director of Office Services at Colliers International, Tom Farmer, Director of Office Services, and Tyler de la Pena, Senior Associate of Office Services, all in Miami, started letting offices this summer. No leases have been signed, but the team is in negotiations with a tenant or two.
River Landing is one of many projects that are being built on the Miami River and rely on proximity to the Health District and the Civic Center.
The project is minutes from Jackson Memorial Hospital, the University of Miami Health Care System, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and the Miami VA Healthcare System. The Health District has more than 50,000 residents during the day.
The community center includes the courthouse of the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building, the prosecutor's office, and a county jail.
The riverside location makes the retail segment more resilient as experimental shopping options offer expansive river views. In addition to the Riverwalk, there will be an open atrium for guests and residents.
Hellinger said restaurant tenants had told the development team that they wanted a location in the rapidly developing area.
"They tell us they want to enter this sub-market because they see pent-up demand for retail stores and restaurants in one of the most populated areas of Miami," he said. "We expect two letters of intent in the coming weeks and hope to announce new restaurant rentals before the end of the year."
Toronto-based H&R Real Estate Investment Trust owns the project, its first company in Miami.
"The opening of River Landing Shops & Residences is a milestone for H&R REIT as our first major development in Miami," said Tom Hofstedter, President and CEO of H&R REIT, in a press release. "The opening with nearly 70 percent of dedicated retail tenants is testament to the strength of the Miami market and the robust pent-up retail demand."