Miami-Dade County

Miami voters approve Riverside Wharf restaurant complex

A rendering of the Riverside Wharf, approved Tuesday by voters
A rendering of the Riverside Wharf, approved Tuesday by voters Courtesy Bermello Ajamil & Partners

A team of developers planning to build a $30 million complex of restaurants on public land along the Miami River has received the go-ahead from Miami voters.

More than 30,000 came out to support Riverside Wharf , and with all but nine precincts reporting late Tuesday night, the project was passing by a 72 to 28 percent margin. The favorable vote gives developers Alex Mantecon and Guillermo Vadell the authority to build a 58,000-square-foot nightlife and dining hub on the north bank of the river on land just west of Interstate 95, where the Garcia family has run a commercial fishing operation for decades.

The duo, which developed the East Coast storage tower across the street, proposed the project in response to a competitive solicitation by the city for the development of two parcels of riverfront land. They added some of their own, adjacent real estate to the development footprint, to build a larger, more viable project.

Mantecon and Vadell received a 30-year lease with two 10-year options with the Miami city commission several months ago. But they needed voters to ratify the agreement, and spent at least $39,000 over recent weeks on a local media campaign.

Mantecon said they hope to break ground by the end of the year and open by late 2017 or early 2018. Now, they’ll focus on signing tenants for their restaurants.

“We’re really ecstatic we got this overwhelming support from the community,” he said. “Now we really need to get working on fulfilling our promises and making sure we make this into an iconic destination.”

Mantecon has partnered with the Garcias and plans to leave space for a commercial fishing operation and a fish market. The Garcias will also operate a raw bar while continuing to run their family grill up the river, where they held an election party Tuesday night. It’s not yet clear who will operate the other three restaurants at the wharf, which will have boat slips for customers who want to arrive by water.

The venue also will have space outdoors in a plaza on the water for outside events, and 20 boat slips for customers who want to arrive at the complex by water. Local entrepreneurs and developers see the project as another addition to an area suddenly bustling with activity.

Mantecon and Vadell’s Riverside Wharf LLC will pay the city a minimum $195,000 annual rent through the lease. They are required to spend at least $7 million on improvements on the public land, and construct a public river walk along with their project.

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