Walmart Meeting: Midtown Community Bitterly Split Over Big Box Retailer's Still Secret Plan

Categories: Recessionomics
Midtown Miami Walmart smaller.jpg
courtesy of Walmart
A preliminary sketch for a Walmart in Midtown
Technically, last night's public meeting in Midtown's Roberto Clemente Park was a minor affair. The issue at hand: whether to rezone several blocks to allow -- among other things -- loading bays on North Miami Avenue.

In reality, however, the two-hour event was a wrestling match over the future and priorities of the neighborhood, with community members largely split along racial and class lines.

"Upper and middle-class people in Midtown can afford to say: 'We don't want Walmart,'" said Marilyn Denson, an older African-American woman who lives nearby. "But when it comes to the poorer people in the community, we need a store in this area that we can afford to shop in."

Also read our breaking coverage of Walmart's Midtown invasion and the project's early problems.

"In this economy, we need the jobs," she added after the meeting.

Walmart couldn't have said it better itself, but the megastore still tried. "We can be part of the solution for residents who want more job opportunities and affordable grocery options close to home, many of whom are now going out of their way to shop and work at Walmart," it said in a press release.

Denson spoke up several times during the event, which was led by Francisco Garcia, Planning Administrator for the City of Miami. Each time she did, her comments were applauded by half of the room.

"Give it a chance," said a middle-aged African-American man to the more skeptical members of the audience. "You gave Midtown a chance in the first place. Now give this a chance."

But others at the meeting lobbed tough questions at Garcia amid concerns that the zoning proposal will be the first step in the "suburbinization" of the neighborhood.

"How does this affect our pedestrian neighborhood?" asked local resident and business owner Jacob Pfeffer. "Midtown is going to become more like a strip mall."

Walmart has not officially filed any plans for developing the massive lot between 30th and 31st streets, Garcia said. But the big box store has held informal talks with the city. Because nothing official has been filed, there aren't any public records available -- making this meeting a proxy war for a much bigger battle looming on the horizon over whether or not Walmart belongs in inner-city Miami.

My Voice Nation Help
16 comments
Guestr
Guestr

Sorry, bud. 42 years old, artist, and the only funds I have, I built myself. I live very minimally, buy a lot of things at resale, use public transportation, and realize that I don't need the majority of stuff that people think they need. I'm often amazed at the things people think they need in life and how much they spend on them. I haven't got too many friends who haven't got some kind of debt. I have none except monthly bills. Sorry, no hipster here.

Residents count too
Residents count too

The City of Miami Planning Department should show respect for its Master Plan and for the taxpayers in Midtown Miami.  They already were forced to give the developers over $169 Million in incentives.  Now the Planning Department is letting itself get pushed around by a shopping mall developer from Ohio and the bribery experts from Arkansas.   Is WalMart in charge of the Miami Planning Department?

Die Hipster Scum
Die Hipster Scum

Is that 20-24K the hipster pocket change you make working at that record store/vegan cafe to supplement your trust fund?

ReadABookYaDummy
ReadABookYaDummy

How is walkable racist?   Even if you mean poor = colored (which means you're racist), walkable is better for the poor! The new pedestrian rail that runs parallel to Biscayne Blvd will be awesome if it gets fixed.

NoUpperEastsideWalmart
NoUpperEastsideWalmart

 It's already been blocked there and that's another very busy intersection (that's also historically important -previously was the main drag into Miami and from the horsetrack to Miami Beach).   However there are some shenanigans going on with that space being left out of the new Conservation District up there.

Guestr
Guestr

I make between 20-24k a year. I pay $825 in rent, own a car, try to eat organic as much as possible, take vacations, buy occasional expensive things, and have about $7000 in the bank. I do not, and never will shop at Wal-mart. I have no use for the place. Do I not fit into the category of poor based on my salary? The problem, when it comes to poor people, is that they do not know how to spend their money wisely. Ditch Wal-mart and teach the poor how to manage their money better and quit pandering to them. And quit giving your money to large corporations such as Wal-mart and they will go away.

79th Street Shopping
79th Street Shopping

Biscayne Plaza AKA the 79th Street Shopping Center is on Biscayne Blvd and NE 79th Street.  It is not far from I-95.  About 12 acres too, which is over 200% bigger than the small 4+ acre site in Midtown being discussed.  WalMart should go to any number of better options than Midtown.  Remember Commissioner Johnny Winton was quoted as saying he did not want a WalMart in Midtown.  And that was before Midtown began being successful.

Guest
Guest

What happened to the Biscayne Plaza? It's practically vacant!

TheRapture
TheRapture

BISCAYNE PLAZA-BUILD A WALMART THERE!!!! One part of the plaza is nearly vacant and the other side is on it's way to becoming vacant. Don't just let it sit there, GEESH! Imagine the foot traffic for that part of the community. Let them have their overpriced, "organic" way of life, it's just a fad anyway, Midtown will die down soon enough!

DonnaShalalasGirlfriend
DonnaShalalasGirlfriend

 they can shop wherever they want....even if elitists like you prevail in dictating what stores may open

Giulio Sciorio
Giulio Sciorio

What poor people can't shop at Target and Publix? Walmart is not that much less.

Michael
Michael

I don't get your point...If the point is that poor people should have access to cheap goods within walking distance, then Midtown would be a poor choice.  The area already has a Target and several nearby Publixes .  There are areas within a mile or two of Midtown that are poorer and have no retail whatsoever. I disagree with anyone who suggest that the most important thing for community development (especially poor communities) is access to cheap shopping. The most important thing is opportunity and the only thing Walmart offers is a dead-end $20K/yr job at the expense of another retailer or grocery who offers better wages and benefits.  Better jobs is the answer, not making a poverty wage go further.  Tell me a shopping center that you'd like to shop at that is anchored by a Walmart?  You can't. They're all train wrecks.

Michael
Michael

That's exactly the point...make the change in the Master Plan now and you won't be able to require Walmart or anyone else for that matter to do anything.  It's best to wait for a submitted proposal and then let the community make a decision about something concrete.  This change is the only leverage the community has to make the developer do anything.  Changing the plan now would give Walmart the green light to turn Midtown into the next 163rd St. Mall.

Bribes? Mexico?
Bribes? Mexico?

Beware of WalMart's lobbyists hiring minorities to spread racist hate.  

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...