In the quest to carve out new, well-connected infill enclaves, a number of cities have looked to districts that traditionally sprouted to serve the food and restaurant sectors. New York’s Meatpacking District in west lower Manhattan, or Chicago’s Fulton Market just west of the Loop central business district, are classic examples of the trend.
The latest enclave to witness the transformation may be Miami’s Allapattah. Long dubbed the Fruit Packing District for its produce markets and flower distributors, the neighborhood is now seeing a flurry of new investment and millions of square feet of fresh development. But unlike the Meatpacking District, with its plush townhomes and rowhomes, or Fulton Market, home to trendy eateries and glittering new multifamily buildings targeting young tech sector workers, Allapattah’s transition stands to benefit its city’s working class by providing workforce residences affordable to some of the hardest-working Miamians.
The Allapattah area’s working class has for years confronted limited options when it came to high-quality housing. Neology Life Development Group, headed by Lissette Calderon, has worked to change that. Among the Magic City’s best known developers – and also its only female, Hispanic residential developer – Calderon is underway on three residential projects totaling 800 apartments.
“Understanding the need for housing options for all residents, not just at one specific price point, is a driving force behind our corporate mission of not just building buildings, but creating lifestyles at an attainable price point,” Calderon says.
No. 17 Residences, the first lifestyle-driven residential project to start construction in Allapattah, recently topped off ahead of a February 2021 unveiling. Located at 1569 17th Ave., the 14-story tower will offer 192 residences in a mix of one- to three-bedroom layouts starting at just $1,200 monthly. Also on Calderon’s roster of emerging developments is the 323-unit apartment building dubbed 16 Allapattah, featuring 9,000 square feet of office and street-level retail space. Calderon’s third residential development will rise on a recently-acquired parcel bearing Opportunity Zone designation. It will be home to 237 apartments as well as first-floor retail.
A community of residences priced within the carefully-tended budgets of those comprising the backbone of Miami’s workforce wouldn’t be complete without shopping to match. That’s why the retail revival on the edge of Allapattah is so important.
Recently completed on the river’s north bank is the $380 million, Andy Hellinger-developed River Landing Shops and Residences. Alongside its 503 residences and riverside park, River Landing will offer popularly-priced retailers TJ Maxx, Ross, Burlington, Old Navy and a Publix supermarket.
Even more ambitious is a mega mixed-use project aiming to redevelop the district’s signature building, the Miami Produce Center. Developer Robert Wennett, developer of Miami Beach’s Herzog & de Meuron-designed 1111 Building, teamed with acclaimed architect Bjarke Ingles on the redevelopment spanning eight structures. It will yield uses that include residential, hotel, retail, office and a trade school. The anchor project will add 1.36 million square feet to the neighborhood, and has already lured New York City’s Hometown BBZ, which selected Allapattah as its Florida debut site.
Key to the success of apartment buildings are vibrant and growing employment centers. Here too, Allapattah stands to benefit. The neighboring Miami Health District, regarded the second most substantial in the nation, employs more than 49,000 workers and is visited by 20,000 people on a daily basis.
To complete the picture of an eclectic neighborhood, SuperBlue Miami recently picked Allapattah for the first in a planned series of pioneering global art installations. An installation that will sprawl across an abandoned, 50,000-square-foot warehouse, Superblue Miami will impose time-ticketed entry at intervals in compliance with Coronavirus-era social distancing protocols. It will neighbor the Rubell Museum, which relocated to Allapattah from Winwood 10 months ago and features 7,200 art pieces along with Leku, a fine dining eatery serving Basque Country cuisine.
Together, the efforts underway in the Fruit Packing District suggest a bright future for the nook. Declares Calderon: “Allapattah is Miami’s last authentic urban core neighborhood yet to be revitalized and reimagined to its true potential as a vibrant destination.”