NRI works to enrich the urban living experience
In many ways, NRI is redefining the idea of urban master-planned communities.
The progressive, Florida-based construction and development company combines strong values with visionary designs and more than 100 years of experience to generate lasting and sustainable solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing cities today.
“We stay actively engaged and have become vertically integrated in everything that we do,” says Brent Reynolds, President and Managing Partner of NRI. “That includes acquisitions, development, construction management and the management of the ongoing assets.”
Having served the company since 2007, Reynolds has helped oversee a shift in NRI’s model. The firm now emphasizes transit-oriented development and a greater sense of urban place-making, an approach that fosters denser, more sustainable and highly inviting places for residents to live, work and play.
Built to engage
Pioneering what the company has dubbed the “urban living room,” NRI seeks to develop properties that organically promote a sense of community.
“We are creating more than just spaces. We are curating purposeful experiences not only for our residents and guests, but also for the surrounding communities,” Reynolds says. “Our developments are designed to create a meaningful interaction. We like to think of that as our signature expression.”
Encouraging community members from the areas surrounding each new development to engage with the property is a key aspect of the urban living room, according to Reynolds. “What we are trying to do is invite the surrounding communities into our development as much as we can,” he says. “This interaction creates a basis of sustainability.”
The hallmark of NRI’s approach to designing and developing engaging spaces is activating a centralized public outdoor space at the development’s heart. By incorporating a mix of pedestrian-level retail and residential space surrounding the urban living room, the community can enjoy all the best components of city living into a single walkable site.
“It brings people together and allows local communities to benefit from the amenities within our project,” Reynolds says.
Green space and walkability are on full display at the firm’s West 38th Planned Community, currently with phase II under construction, near the University of Florida’s central campus in Gainesville. The mixed-use community, which spans 64 acres, includes a significant natural habitat donated to the city for recreational and educational use and serving as an extension of the citywide initiative to create well-designed bike and walking paths.
Reynolds adds that placing communities near universities can often result in a healthy demographic balance that contributes to the firm’s goals.
Leveraging public transport
Another hallmark of NRI’s recent work is the firm’s dedication to transit-oriented developments. This, according to Reynolds, allows the firm to meet the needs of 21st-century urban residents.
“From a global perspective, our collective challenge for the future is figuring out how to tame urban sprawl while maximizing our investments in urban infrastructure,” he says. Reynolds says that in many ways, NRI is taking a more traditional approach to urban development.
“If you look at developments from 65 years ago, things were close together,” he says. “You could easily walk to places. Transit elements, such as rail, were the central mode of getting around for people.”
As urban population centers continue to expand, the firm’s team foresees even greater opportunities to incorporate transit accessibility into developments.
“I think the transit-oriented development concept is really a glimpse into the future of sustainable development practices,” Reynolds says. “It is a response to the changing demands of city living.”
NRI is partnering with the Transit Oriented Development Institute, which works to bring together business leaders and local politicians with the aim of building better communities. The organization also offers a certification program for developers hoping to incorporate transportation-friendly components into their communities’ designs.
The firm’s Gables Station development, which will soon break ground in the Miami suburb of Coral Gables, will incorporate transit-oriented development practices, including the extension to the city’s urban trolley network and the urban living room concept into the design. The property will feature approximately 440 multi-family units, 60 extended stay units and 105,000 square feet of pedestrian-level retail space. NRI hopes to wrap up the project by summer 2020.