In Defense of a Walmart in Midtown

Categories: The Dissident

The_Dissident.jpg
As The Dissident, J.J. Colagrande turns his critical eye on Miami culture. This week: Just build the damn Walmart in midtown already.

Ever see the SNL skit "Really?" with Seth Myers and Amy Poehler? That's how this "No Walmart in Midtown" thing feels. I mean, really -- we're still talking about this?

Let's be clear: Walmart sucks. I'm no fan of the low-wage-paying corporate monster. I don't heart Huckabee. But this crusade against one Walmart in a thriving part of town -- really? The store won't ruin the neighborhood, and we have bigger fish to fry.

Would a Trader Joe's be better? Sure. But midtown is already home to plenty of big-brand stores: Target, Ross, Marshalls, PetSmart, Sports Authority, Loehmann's, HomeGoods, Mattress Giant, and Party City. Are you arguing that adding one more will kill the neighborhood? Really?

Where is this irrational fear coming from? Mainly from those with a stake in midtown's real estate, who worry that the neighborhoods they are gentrifying (Wynwood and midtown) will suddenly lose their value if a megastore such as Walmart is built. Are you really so invested in the profits of real estate developers? Really?

If you subtract the average income from people who live in its high-rise condos, the rest of the area Walmart would serve -- places such as Allapattah and Overtown -- is poor. The average annual income per family is less than $20,000 -- that's barely $300 per week, after taxes, per family, not per person. These are families, many with kids, carving out a living that hovers around the federal poverty line. They probably could use a Walmart in the area, because they are definitely not hanging out at Panther Coffee sipping six-dollar iced lattes.

And yes, Walmart has a history of offensive business and employment practices. But it won't be any worse in midtown than it is in Hialeah or Doral or North Miami Beach or any of the many other locations in the Miami area. Where was the outrage when those stores opened?

Look. If the city is bending its development rules for Walmart, that's wrong. But as far as yelling "The sky is falling" because some store is moving into an area that already has a crapload of stores? Move on -- we have bigger issues to deal with, like saving libraries and fire stations and funding animal shelters. Listen to the people rallying loudest. If they earn a living off real estate, consider their real intentions. Really.

J.J. Colagrande is the author of the novels Headz and Decò. Follow him on Twitter.

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.


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76 comments
RuleofLaw
RuleofLaw

An Appeal was filed to stop Walmart from opening in Midtown because Walmart's application appears to violate numerous rules, regulations and laws that everyone else must follow.  Every business and every property owner who wants to develop in Miami must follow the Zoning Code and many City rules and regulations.  The New York Times published a multi-part investigative series on Walmart and how Walmart officials bribe public officials to overcome local laws Walmart dislikes.  Should Walmart be allowed to violate the Rule of Law?

BribesPlenty
BribesPlenty

Walmart was investigated by the NY Times for bribing public officials.  Months of research.  On google and the NY Times website.  Ever wonder how Walmart gets approvals?

grantstern
grantstern

Dear JJ,

 As you know, I am an unpaid blogger for Huffington Post, but the Miami Herald published my first editorial piece on the subject last year.     Yes, I'm a mortgage broker, and as such free to express my views without requiring payment, and without fear of repercussion by the city's administration ie. I have no conflict of interest.

   It is of supreme irony that you're fronting Walmart nowadays.  You mentioned that you're a professor - but sadly, you're a part-time professor working full time hours.  Professors like you are the front line victims of the "Walmartization" of our economy's "white collar" sector, aka the shift from full to part time, with the accompanying denial of health benefits, removal of job security etc.  

  Therefore, I understand if your current situation has left you destitute so that you've got to shill for Walmart to earn a few nickels.  In fact, so destitute that you need a closer Walmart (we are talking about saving 10 minutes of driving, right) to pay the lowest price for your household items. 

  Others of us, those who've had to jump through the City's hoops to get a permit, or a business tax stamp or paid property taxes have a different view of things.  We think that Walmart's got to play by the same rules we do.  

  Frankly, you might be breaking ground here and not even know it.  You might be the first columnist in Miami in memory who openly cheers on illegal dealings.

Congrats.

grantstern
grantstern

Don't accuse JJ of being paid to write this article, Walmart pays for top quality PR and surely this doesn't qualify.

jesicafernandez09
jesicafernandez09

The folks that live within blocks from the area can't afford even the least expensive item in any of the high end luxury retail stores. These folks will benefit from the discount items and possibly work, even if it is part time. Or is it better that they have no job or remain unemployed?

I'm betting most of the anti-Walmart folks will be caught shopping at Walmart...just be sure to have your camera ready!!

jesicafernandez09
jesicafernandez09

Who/When/Where were local standards created? At the municipal level?

FACT: If the people who live in Wynwood/Midtown/Design District don't want Walmart in their area, they can vote them out....with their wallet.

It's called a free market because the market decides who stays and who goes...people who buy things are voters in the economy. Wherever more people choose to spend their dollars will win the race.  As one of the commentors below stated, Walmart's presence will force competition between exisiting retailers, increasing affordability of essentials.

And the snobby hipster comments that the whole neighborhood vision of an upscale shopping center will be ruined...open your eyes...Wynwood/Midtown/Design District is in the ghetto...you can put all the Hermes, LV, Christian Louboutin's stores you want....but it's still an underpriveldged, poor neighborhood. This area will NEVER be anything like Bal Harbor or Merrick Park...and to even say that is the vision, cheapens the vibe. I might add that Bal Harbor nor Coral Gables would ever endorse or permit street art (or graffitti), which in my personal view, adds to the appeal of the neighborhoods.

grantstern
grantstern

Walmart is not trying to build a store that respects local standards, in the slightest.  They've cheated, period.  

They could get what they want legitimately - but their high priced attorneys know how horrific their business practices translate into failed votes.  

They managed to end run a legislated zoning and planning process - in plain sight - and now Mr. Colagrande is cheering them on for bribing city officials.

I thought the press was supposed to be a watchdog.  

Apparently, Mr. Colagrande is a lapdog.

peopleofultra
peopleofultra

Don't accuse JJ of being paid to write this article, Walmart pays for top quality PR and surely this doesn't qualify.

psyboy
psyboy

Really? Really? Do much research - really? Hialeah and the 163rd Street area didn't have the resurgence of their neighborhood with a Midtown Mall and the tony chain stores that are propping up the art galleries of Wynwood and the already chichi 'tude of the Design District. So REALLY, YES, Walmart will do a lot of damage to this area and employees that are paid well in the aforementioned stores will probably lose their jobs and good pay when those stores close thanks to Walmart's opening.  We don't need your shade nor you telling us to just live and let live buddy - we need your support.

DavCab1
DavCab1

Walmart is going to threaten the vision in place for Midtown/Wynwood/Design District.  And it is a beautiful thing.  But all three neighborhoods need to collaborate and flow to make this vision come to life.  Between all of the high end retail (Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Cartier, Fendi, Christian Louboutin, etc..) , innovative/contemporary office/retail space being constructed, gourmet restaurants, and a number of renown art galleries located in the Design District; basically creating the next Bal Harbor for ultra high end shopping.  

Wynwood is on the verge of a major project that will bring an abundance art studios, a Theatre, and class AAA art galleries.  Solidifying what Wynwood is known for, its artistically inclined environment.  

Midtown is in between these two thriving neighborhoods and is in a position to become something special in OUR city.  It has the ability link these two neighborhoods (Wynwood & DD) to become a legitimate point of interest in OUR city which is growing.  I don't know where you are from originally BUT I want to see my city grow and prosper.  Not fucking WALMARTs

And yes, All those other Brand names you mentioned suck, but they will be gone due time.  Already in the works..  

BewareOfLobbyists
BewareOfLobbyists

Beware.  The pro-Walmart comments are mostly from Walmart's lobbyists and from its PR firm.  Walmart's application violates many City of Miami rules and regulations.  

Mechanesthesia
Mechanesthesia

Finally, some common sense.
If you see where the Walmart is located, it's at the very edge of Midtown, bordering warehouses, empty buildings, a mechanic, etc.  That area isn't going to be filled up with luxury condos any time soon, and this Walmart creates a nice buffer between the isolated luxury neighborhood of midtown with the surrounding transitioning ghetto.

SHUT
SHUT

I don't like Walmart at all, but Wynwood  lost their value some time ago. I miss my old Wynwood :(

Alex Porro
Alex Porro

Manhattan called....it's tired of having to attach "The real" in the front, and wants its nickname back!!

yulla
yulla

why not a go kart track and batting cages and a putt putt instead????? something for the kids...

NorthoftheBorder Gold
NorthoftheBorder Gold

NOTTRUE, Walmart destroys communities all over the country. They hold cities ransom, after building they will want tax breaks and if they don't get it they threaten to leave a big eyesore in your city, an empty large square building. It WILL lower land value! Do you want your city to resemble Detroit?

mwatson08
mwatson08

So what you're really saying is that you have no real interest in this because you don't see how it affects you.

Brandon Berretta
Brandon Berretta

NewTimes' J.J. should stick to writing about what he knows.... Nothing!

ivxx305
ivxx305

This just sounds like the spoiled whiny hipsters who hang around midtown don't want those lower income poor folks from Allapattah and Overtown to come shop in their neighborhood. 

For EVERYONE"S information, they're putting up a new walmart on 92ave. and flagler, less than a mile from the one on 87ave and nw 12st, and still within 10mins of the one on coral way. Where's the outrage about that Walmart from you cool kids. Why aren't you writing angry letters and blogs about that one...

that's right, you don't live there so it doesn't affect you. Don't hide your impure motives behind altruistic ones.. own your truth. I'd respect you more for saying i don't want the walmart cuz all those poor people will remind me i'm living in a suburb of the ghetto. Instead of acting like your keeping the walmart out for their benefit.

ambassador
ambassador

Oh yeah, giving poor folks a greater opportunity to buy cheap stuff is a good thing, and to say otherwise is elitist. Yup, that's your opinion it seems, J.J., but get your facts straight. I don't care where the WalMart is located -- because EVERY WalMart has an impact -- and it's not good for our economy, nor for low-income residents. Can we talk about corporate welfare and its impact on all of our pocketbooks? WalMart gets about $59.2 million in subsidies in Florida -- and that's based on data from just 12 Florida cities. And get this: "According to a 2006 study, for every retail job created at Walmart, communities lose 1.4 retail jobs. Based on the findings of this study, we estimate that, if Walmart had no stores in Florida, there would be an additional 37,448 retail jobs in the state. - See more at: http://walmart1percent.org/florida/#sthash.cghkAiZV.dpuf."

And more on the HIDDEN costs of Walmart: "In Florida: Walmart was the Florida employer with the most workers (and their dependents) participating in Medicaid, according to data published by the St. Petersburg Times in March 2005. Over 12,000 Walmart associates and their dependents were enrolled in Medicaid. - See more at: http://walmart1percent.org/florida/#sthash.cghkAiZV.dpuf"

http://www.walmartsubsidywatch.org/state_detail.html?state=FL

RachelUnleashed
RachelUnleashed

Thank you for speaking up on this issue, MNT.  People of Miami need to check themselves on this issue. I find it ridiculous that so many hours, rants, blog posts have been wasted away on this subject.  If the Walmart would be proposed in neighboring Little Haiti just north of 43rd Street, there wouldn't be an issue at all.

I visited the site of the proposed Walmart last Friday.  It's a PERFECT spot for it.  It's at the end of all things trendy, including the PetSmart. Lol. Let's face it, it's not opening in front of Sugarcane or any of the trendy eateries..... 

Target is NOT the same as Walmart.  I have said this before, I worked for Target Corp for 6 long, hellish years..... Target prices are much higher and they narrow all their product offerings significantly.  Having Walmart within a 2 mile radius of Target will actually force the Bullseye Boutique to lower their prices on top 1000 competitively shopped items.  

Walmart does the same.  Midtowners - just know that your pockets will be a little fatter once the Walmart does in fact open.  Even if you shop at Target, you will see many more TPC's (Temporary Price Cuts) and un-advertised specials due to Target matching Walmart prices.  This is corporate policy, by the way.



RachelUnleashed
RachelUnleashed

Thank you for speaking up on this issue, MNT.  People of Miami need to check themselves on this issue. I find it ridiculous that so many hours, rants, blog posts have been wasted away on this subject.  If the Walmart would be proposed in neighboring Little Haiti just north of 43rd Street, there wouldn't be an issue at all.

I visited the site of the proposed Walmart last Friday.  It's a PERFECT spot for it.  It's at the end of all things trendy, including the PetSmart. Lol. Let's face it, it's not opening in front of Sugarcane or any of the trendy eateries..... 

Target is NOT the same as Walmart.  I have said this before, I worked for Target Corp for 6 long, hellish years..... Target prices are much higher and they narrow all their product offerings significantly.  Having Walmart within a 2 mile radius of Target will actually force the Bullseye Boutique to lower their prices on top 1000 competitively shopped items.  

Walmart does the same.  Midtowners - just know that your pockets will be a little fatter once the Walmart does in fact open.  Even if you shop at Target, you will see many more TPC's (Temporary Price Cuts) and un-advertised specials due to Target matching Walmart prices.  This is corporate policy, by the way.



Cary Cary
Cary Cary

^^^ so true...people are hypocrites.

Lauren Kathryn
Lauren Kathryn

All the classy ppl in midtown shop at target and marshalls...don't hate in walmart...you know you want it. Just put graffiti art on it and it'll be cool

TitoCaneca
TitoCaneca

This is like opening a Burger King inside a McDonald's. Target already offers the same things as Wal Mart does, at the same price but at a much better quality. So the "oh poor people need an affordable place to buy stuff" argument is a giant crock of cow dung. This is just another example of good ol' American greed.

Ariana Hernandez Reguant
Ariana Hernandez Reguant

even a flea market where the poor people sold their wares would be better than the walmart... since when is walmart a business that empowers poor people?

Ariana Hernandez Reguant
Ariana Hernandez Reguant

To Andrew Jordan: You have no proof of that. If instead of a Walmart, it was a sound building for a community-based cultural center with artistic and educational programs for people of the surrounding communities, I bet there would not be objections.

David Lebatard
David Lebatard

guessing walmart is buying ad space in the new times now. garbage as usual.

grantstern
grantstern

@jesicafernandez09 "Who/When/Where were local standards created? At the municipal level?" Yes, Midtown is an appendix to the municipal zoning code, which is part of local ordinances aka it is the law.  This law was drafted by a master planner, then ratified by our elected officials.  Basically, our votes created Midtown, and funded Midtown's infrastructure build out.  

We voted midtown to be the way it is, but Miami's administration is ignoring all votes, comments or discussion in trying to undo our law with their decision.  Its improper.

leragavin
leragavin

@grantstern How is he a lapdog? This is an opinion column, and that's exactly what he is doing...Expressing his opinion.  Not everyone that disagrees with you is Walmart's lapdog. 

jjcolagrande
jjcolagrande topcommenter

You want to have this argument with me? Really? Okay.

You see the comment above this? You see the name Grant Stern? 

Grant Stern is a mortgage broker and the loudest opponent against this issue. He has been writing op-ed pieces about this issue on Huff Po, going to town hall meetings. It's his issue. He is the LOUDEST voice on this issue. Why? Because he's a mortgage broker dealing in property in this neighborhood. That's truth.

Now, you see this comment: People of Ultra. This is also Grant Stern. Look at this twitter handle: https://twitter.com/PeopleofUltra You see his name? Go ahead and change it, I have a screenshot. So, what this guy just did was log-in under another name, Troll me, talk shit, then log-in under his name to troll me again.

Who does that?

This is the same guy who bought Miami Zombie domain names after the face eating attack last Memorial Day weekend. Snake-oil opportunist. I wouldn't be surprised if the other unnamed trolls below are also him. You want to argue with me? I teach argument as a Professor and have a Master's degree in writing. 

You think I can't hear your voice in your writing? 

Keep talking shit about the way I write. You've been BBQ'd. 

And fuck Walmart ! !


   

jjcolagrande
jjcolagrande topcommenter

@BewareOfLobbyists You sound a little paranoid... And making comments with no name only leads people to think you are involved in real-estate, maybe like a mortgage broker or something??

jjcolagrande
jjcolagrande topcommenter

@NorthoftheBorder Gold We will NEVER resemble Detroit. Except, maybe if we continue to close fire stations and libraries...

 

jjcolagrande
jjcolagrande topcommenter

@mwatson08You're making this about me. I live 6 blocks from this location. You live 100 blocks away. Et tu brute?? :)

jjcolagrande
jjcolagrande topcommenter

@Brandon Berretta I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing. Socrates

jjcolagrande
jjcolagrande topcommenter

never trust commentators who hide behind pseudonyms...

falvarado10
falvarado10 writer

@David Lebatard Damn you got owned son!

jjcolagrande
jjcolagrande topcommenter

@David Lebatard says the "alleged" street artist who paints big shiny corporate ships...

grantstern
grantstern

@leragavin this column is a mish mash of opinions and basically says: "Don't trust someone who is an expert in their field, who testifies in court, because they make a living off their expertise"  I challenge the author to find a single coherent point from this article and acquire a limited expertise in these matters himself, through research.

grantstern
grantstern

@jjcolagrande sorry dude, I started a new account, so I posted the comment under that account too.

grantstern
grantstern

@leragavin @grantstern read these Public Record documents, then tell me if you'd write the same article: http://www.scribd.com/collections/4332837/NoWalmartinMidtown-2013

JJ has his right to an opinion just like the next guy, but I've got the right to call his opinion ill informed, fragmented and mostly based on insinuation rather than fact.   I've studiously shared all of the public records obtained re: Walmart, and they point to a few stark conclusions, but the primary one I intend to prove is:

Walmart's obtained an approval that breaks local ordinances governing architectural design and it must be reversed.

leragavin
leragavin

@grantstern @leragavin Not everyone who is so vehemently against Walmart as you are is a "shill" or a lapdog. If I still had a column at NT, I'd take the same stand as JJ.

grantstern
grantstern

@leragavin would "shill" be better?  someone that writes: "Just build the damn Walmart in midtown already." in a column called "In a Defense of Walmart" is obviously pushing a viewpoint... 

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