Andrew Hellinger

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MIAMI—River Landing Shops & Residences, a345,000-square-foot mixed-use development is on track to openduring the first half of 2020. The project will haveretail/commercial space, 135,000 square feet of office and 528market-rate apartments.

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Andrew Hellinger, principal at Miami-based Urban-X Group, whoalong with Coralee Penabad, is developing River Landing, recentlyanswered a few questions about the project.

 What prompted Urban-X to initially invest along theMiami River and propose the development of River Landing Shops& Residence?

River Landing Shops & Residences is on a 10-acre parcelalong the shores of the Miami River and the location is almost hardto replicate anywhere in Miami. The parcel, near the JacksonMemorial Hospital west of downtown Miami, was once owned by MiamiPioneer Henry Flagler. When we were looking for opportunities fordevelopment almost a decade ago, we wanted to go to areas whereother developers were not building just yet. We wanted ourdevelopment to become a catalyst of change and spur economicactivity. Our goal wasn't just to build a project. We wanted tobuild a community with River Landing at the heart of it, pumpinglife into the community by providing quality retail, diningopportunities, cultural events, entertainment, market-rateapartments, Class A office space and, more importantly, access tothe bustling Miami River. Prior to developing River Landing, thearea lacked a cohesive environment and had few conveniences,despite being home to the country's second largest Health District.The area has one of South Florida's largest day-time populations ofnearly 50,000. River Landing is also within easy access to DowntownMiami to the east and the Miami Airport to the west giving it acentral location within the marketplace.

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Because this property offered us very little competition indevelopment, we saw the opportunity to reshape a portion of theCity of Miami by building a modern urban lifestyle center withnational retailers, shops, restaurants, office, entertainment and awaterfront linear park for residents and visitors alike to enjoy.If you think about it, there are very few places – if any – on theriver for the public to access and hang out. My business partner,Coralee Penabad, and I wanted to recreate Henry Flagler's conceptof opening the riverfront in the Mid River District for the peopleof Miami-Dade County. The first thing we did was to design a50-foot wide linear park on the river landscaped with canopies. Thenext step was to design a project that would offer the same kind ofconveniences that you find in suburbia in terms of retail anddining options.

 Since construction began, how has River Landing Shops& Residences helped to unlock Miami's river culture and giverise to the Mid River District?

River Landing has helped unlock Miami's river culture bycreating an all-encompassing waterfront residential, office,shopping and dining destination to serve the neighboringcommunities of the Miami Health District, Allapattah, Little Havanaand Downtown Miami. River Landing will be one of the onlylarge-scale retail and dining destinations with direct water accessin the greater Miami area.

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Water itself is an attraction for visitors, but we have takenseveral steps to further enhance the river as a community asset. Wedecided early on in our development to invoke the days of HenryFlagler — who first developed our land as a shipping port for hishotels — by creating a concept that is welcoming to the public.First, River Landing will be providing boaters access to retail andrestaurants, helping reduce traffic congestion. It will also offerits own river shuttle service from Downtown Miami/Brickell toresidents, shoppers, and visitors.

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We have also doubled the size of River Landing's portion of theMiami Riverwalk to open the river to visitors to anyone who wantsto see it. We are also incorporating Riverwalk Park, the newest andone of the largest greenspaces along the Miami River, into theproject.

What has the Mid River District's emergence meant fordevelopment along the Miami River and what do you think the futureholds for further development for river adjacent districts inMiami?

The development of River Landing Shops & Residences – alongwith the growth of the Mid River District – has been a game changerfor Miami. As a result of River Landing's development, we areseeing this section of Miami become more of a 24/7 community and assuch more private and public investment is following. Since webegan construction of River Landing, multiple developers andinvestors have followed our lead, trying to capitalize on theuntapped discretionary income along the Miami River, the HealthDistrict and surrounding neighborhoods with pent up demand forquality retail, restaurants and local culture.

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We expect development in the surrounding neighborhoods tocontinue with the Mid River District serving as the anchor asdevelopment moves west of Downtown Miami. Consumers areincreasingly demanding more residential, office, retail and diningoptions in this area.

 What are some of the other high-profile developersand investors who have in recent time migrated to the Mid RiverDistrict from Wynwood, Brickell, Miami Beach and other trendymarkets?

Several high-profile developers have recently entered the MidRiver District and adjacent neighborhoods. Case in point: theRubell Family Collection moved their art museum from trendy Wynwoodto the area as well as condo king Jorge Perez opened his private ElEspacio 23 museum. Robert Wennett, the developer behind theaward-winning 1111 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, has announced amajor mixed-use development called the Miami Produce Center also inthe vicinity of River Landing. Other developers such as LissetteCalderon and Mast Capital are also developing projects along theMiami River.

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