A major mixed-use project planned for the Miami River has hit rough waters.
The developer of River Landing, located on eight acres of land at the old Mahi Shrine Auditorium site, is the target of a foreclosure lawsuit from its lender and of two liens from its architectural and engineering firms.
Lender Eastwatch Holdings says that River Landing Development is in default on a $38.19 million mortgage issued in 2014, according to a lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court last week.
River Landing Development, run by Andrew Hellinger, bought the property on the north bank of the Miami River between 17th Avenue and the Dolphin Expressway for $26 million last year, county records show.
$38.19 millionAmount that lender Eastwatch Holdings says it is owed by the developer of River Landing
In a statement, Hellinger said that “we are in constant communications with the lender and we understand this is a move the lender had to take in response to internal pressures . . . The lender has been involved in the process and is aware of our plan but due to internal pressures, it had to take this temporary action.”
Hellinger added that he had just signed an agreement with an equity partner to pay off the loan and that he will announce the names of tenants who have signed leases at the shopping center in the next few weeks.
Eastwatch, which is owned by publicly traded Northstar Realty Finance, isn’t the only company saying Hellinger owes it money.
Late last month Miami-based architecture firm ADD filed a lien against River Landing. ADD says it is still owed about $1.1 million on a $3 million contract. And this week Langan Engineering & Environmental Services, of Miami Lakes, filed a lien for $37,000 worth of engineering services that it said went unpaid.
Hellinger plans to build two rental towers with a total of 475 units and a five-story shopping center with about 426,000 square feet of retail space. He has won approval from both City of Miami and Miami-Dade County authorities for the project and said he hoped to start construction by the end of the year.
The project secured two large assists from the county: free waterfront land for a park next to the development, and initial approval for a $7.5 million economic-development grant paid out of property taxes. Conditions on the land deal prevent River Landing from building on the park land, though it would provide a significant amenity for residents. The project also must win final approval for the county grant.
As land prices on the ocean and Biscayne Bay soar, developers have been snapping up cheaper properties on the Miami River in order to sell coveted waterfront views to buyers.
Miami Herald staff writer Douglas Hanks contributed to this report.