State Attorney moving to river in what could be $108 million lease
Leaky bathrooms, malfunctioning air conditioning, faulty elevators, and a flooded parking garage. Those are some things that staff at State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s office will say goodbye to in about six months, when they move into new space at River Landing Shops & Residences.
The arrangement will benefit both tenant and landlord, as River Landing will be able to count any new State Attorney’s Office hires toward a job-creation total the developer said it would reach in exchange for a $7.5 million grant Miami-Dade gave it through a bond program, a memo from county Chief Financial Officer Ed Marquez said.
Miami-Dade commissioners Tuesday approved an up to $108 million, 30-year rental agreement with River Landing Miami, a limited partnership between Canada-based H&R REIT and Coral Gables-based Urban-X Group, for 49,379 square feet of offices at 1500 NW North River Drive.
Raquel Regalado, who sponsored the resolution authorizing the deal, commended the county’s Internal Services Department for finalizing the agreement, which she called “a leap forward” for the State Attorney’s Office.
“The State Attorney’s Office is a critical partner to law enforcement in keeping our community safe,” she said in a statement. “For years, they’ve been trying to do that in offices out of a 1970s horror movie – leaky garage, broken equipment and practically bursting at the seams. Today, we approved a lease that will move them into brand new offices to continue their important work.”
The initial lease term OK’d this week, which will commence once River Landing builds out and furnishes the State Attorney’s Office space on the property’s sixth and seventh floors, will see the county pay $64 million rent over 20 years. If the county taps two five-year renewal options, it would pay an additional $44 million.
The move is long overdue, according to State Attorney’s Office Director Annette Perez, who detailed “deplorable conditions” she and staff have endured at their longtime offices at the Civic Park Plaza building in Allapattah.
Following Hurricane Irma, Civic Park Plaza suffered extensive flooding damage that forced some 110 State Attorney’s Office staff to relocate to other facilities for nearly a year.
Once they returned in August 2018, several issues persisted, including chronically non-working bathrooms, broken elevators, insufficient air conditioning, a waterlogged parking garage basement and frequently out-of-service elevators, which staff described as a “routine nightmare.”
“Our employees are frustrated and so are we,” Ms. Perez wrote in a letter to Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz. “This is no secret. We’ve encouraged team members to be patient and allow us time to resolve the issue with the county, but the years continue to pass and nothing has changed. No employee should be forced to work under these conditions.”
Further, she wrote, the State Attorney’s Office had outgrown its offices, for which it hasn’t had a new lease in roughly five years.
The current arrangement puts the State Attorney’s Office at risk of eviction with just 30 days’ notice, she wrote, but all attempts to reach an agreement that included financial penalties if Civic Park failed to make repairs were unsuccessful.
Getting state staff out of there and into a more suitable, functional space, Ms. Fernandez Rundle told Mr. Diaz by email June 14, “is a matter of great importance to me and the 150 (approximately) soldiers that handle tens of thousands of cases in our county criminal courts.”
The new State Attorney’s Office lease with River Landing includes several “turnkey” provisions so that Ms. Fernandez Rundle and her staff can immediately occupy and use the space in about 180 days.
Between now and then, River Landing agreed to buy and install furniture and security equipment, as well as provide staff with a low-speed, six-seat vehicle costing about $15,000, which will be used to shuttle attorneys to and from the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building half a mile away.
Staff will also have access to 101 reserved garage spaces.
The total fiscal impact to the county’s general fund in year one of the lease, Mr. Marquez wrote, will be $3.17 million. That will include $2 million in base rent ($40.50 per square foot), $406,175 for information and technology expenses and equipment, $223,784 for security guard services, $120,000 for security equipment, $109,006 for electricity, $87,205 for janitorial services, $77,825 for schematic plans and designs, and $46,278 for moving expenses.
Mr. Marquez included a $99,993 lease management fee that will be paid from the Miami-Dade’s general fund to the county Internal Services Department among the first-year costs.
The State Attorney’s Office will pay a sublease of $1.
The agreement includes early lease termination conditions at the end of years 10 and 15. If the county chooses to end its lease at either of those times, it must pay River Landing $1.875 million after 10 years or $937,500 after 15 years.
In April 2018, River Landing received a $7.5 million county grant to help build the $452 million development, which spans more than eight acres and comprises 2.2 million square feet of retail, residential, office and commercial space.
Tenants listed on its website include AT&T, Boulangerie Ltd., Burlington Stores, Chase Bank, Chick-fil-A, Ficelle Bakery, Five Below, Hobby Lobby, Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, Old Navy, Planet Fitness, Publix, Ross Dress for Less, TJ Maxx and Ulta Beauty.
In exchange for the grant, River Landing agreed to create and maintain 520 new jobs paying an average $24,018 for five years.
Miami Today reached out to Urban-X Principal Andrew Hellinger for comment but did not hear back before deadline Tuesday night.
In June 2015, Miami-Dade gave county-owned land adjacent to the development to the River Landing Conservation Foundation, a nonprofit “affiliated with the landlord,” Mr. Marquez wrote.
In return, the foundation agreed within three years to build and maintain a seawall along the Miami River and nearby greenspace, a pedestrian walkway and enhanced beautification, landscaping and lighting on the property.
“To date, the not-for-profit entity has not performed the required improvements within the required timeframe and is in the process of seeking an extension of time from the county in order to meet its commitment,” Mr. Marquez wrote, adding that the county is now “evaluating the request.”