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City Approves Walmart's Plans for Midtown, Opponents Pledge to Appeal

Categories: News

Thumbnail image for Midtown Miami Walmart smaller.jpg
Walmart's plan for Midtown
There goes the neighborhood.

The City of Miami has approved Walmart's controversial plans for a 156,000-square-foot store in Midtown. After nearly two years of heated debate, planning director Francisco Garcia officially approved the mega chain store's architectural plans yesterday. Walmart must still obtain a building permit before starting construction, but opponents of the big box store aren't waiting. They are waging war.

"The city is merely declaring Christmas in August," says Grant Stern in reaction to the granting of the permit. "But we are prepared to immediately appeal. Walmart will flatten the neighborhood."

See also: Walmart Eyes Massive New Midtown Miami Store

New Times first reported that Walmart was planning on plopping a big box store in the up-and-coming district back in October of 2011.

The reaction was fierce. While Walmart's lobbyists argue that the store will bring both construction jobs and permanent retail positions, critics -- Stern included -- say the chain will kill one of the few cool and vibrant parts of Miami.

"If they implement the plan as they have it, you can pretty much forget the luxury condo concept in that area," Stern says. "It's just not going to work anymore. If you live in an area where you can't walk down the street [because of a big box store], why pay a premium?"

"We could see flight from the neighborhood," Stern adds, "and that would be bad."

Walmart, meanwhile, is touting the permit approval as moving the company "one step closer to serving our Miami customers."

"Our Midtown Miami store will provide residents with new job opportunities and shopping options while complimenting the existing retail corridor," says Steven Restivo, Senior Director of Community Affairs at Walmart. "We're excited to move forward."

newmidtown.jpg
Walmart has said it will line streets with other stores
The decision to issue Walmart the permit caught Stern by surprise. He met with Garcia on July 3rd to look over the latest Walmart plans: there is no way those plans should have been approved, and no way they will stand up to appeal. Stern argues that Walmart's plans for a massive parking lot and widening 31st Street both violate the Miami 21 zoning code.

At first, it seemed like the City of Miami agreed. Miami's Urban Development Review Board voted unanimously in February to deny Walmart's plans.

Garcia, however, has the last word -- at least, until Stern appeals.

Any appeal will be heard by the city's planning board and, finally, the City Commission.

Stern says that the city is bending the rules for Walmart. More importantly, locals don't want the big box store.

"It's a travesty," he says. "Unless there is somehow some mystery set of plans that they refused to show us on July 3... they are outrageously over the top. Walmart's plan is created to accommodate a suburb, not a high-density area."

"The bottom line is: if they put a Walmart in, the artists -- the creative class type, those that have brought the neighborhood up and vote with their feet -- will leave," Stern warns. "It will not matter what minuscule economic benefit will bring to the area. It will be dead."

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166 comments
Kenn Gambe
Kenn Gambe

who the fuck opposes this? is fucking wynnwood a pristine coral reef or ancient ruin? build the dam thing like homie alex anico said so i can save some gas every time i'm too broke to have to journey to the ends of the world to get decent prices on shit.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

well with WAL-MART learning how to bribe hispanic officials in MEXICO and LATIN AMERICA and with the Miami City Commission FOR SALE it was only a matter of when the exchange of envelopes for votes would take place

oh and for all the local residents whether you are for or against it - it doesn't really matter what YOU think - if it did the CITY COMMISSION would have spent the $562,ooo,ooo it wasted on that baseball stadium on YOUR kids teachers and libraries and schools instead

Alex Anico
Alex Anico

It's a walmart not a nuclear bomb get over it. Walmart is the same thing as Target and nobody bitches about them. Stfu build the fucking Walmart so we don't have to drive to casa carajo for a deal on deodorant..,

Magali Martin
Magali Martin

I have mixed feelings about this, being that I am a Miamian and a Wynwoodian since birth. I love that the neighborhood is being enjoyed by the rest of Miami and that it has become an art scene. It's been a working class neighborhood with a lot of Puerto Rican roots and culture. I think what makes Wynwood unique is the combination of old and new. The young and hip have moved into Midtown's new condos and are enjoying the walking proximity to nightlife, art, and dining. Believe it or not, the concept of walking to your local grocery store or restaurant or bar or living and working in the neighborhood isn't a new concept for long time residents. I think that Walmart shouldn't be built in Midtown but can choose another lot close by, that way the option to shop there is available to anyone and everyone that chooses to do so. There isn't a Walmart anywhere near Wynwood, Little Haiti, Overtown, Miami Shore, Edgewater, Morningside, Belle Meade, Allapattah, Buena Vista, Liberty City, Downtown, etc..... Also to touch on another point, LV, Gucci, Prada..etc...did their research before opening their stores in the Design District and they know that not too many residents in the surrounding neighborhoods can afford their brands and they still opened up. I don't think a Walmart in the area would be detrimental but I don't think it should be in Midtown's 7 by 2 block area

magy0705
magy0705

I have mixed feelings about this, being that I am a Miamian and a Wynwoodian since birth.  I love that the neighborhood is being enjoyed by the rest of Miami and that it has become an art scene.  It has always been a working class neighborhood with a lot of Puerto Rican roots and culture.  I think what makes Wynwood unique is the combination of old and new.  Believe it or not, the concept of walking to your local grocery store or restaurant or bar or living and working in the neighborhood isn't a new concept for long time residents.  The young and hip have moved into Midtown new condos and enjoying the walking proximity to nightlife, art, and dining.  I think that Walmart shouldn't be built in Midtown but can choose another lot close by, that way the option to shop there is available to anyone and everyone that chooses to do so.  There isn't a Walmart anywhere near Wynwood, Little Haiti, Overtown, Miami Shore, Edgewater, Morningside, Belle Meade, Allapattah, Buena Vista, Liberty City, Downtown, etc.....  Also to touch on another point, LV, Gucci, Prada..etc...did their research before opening their stores in the Design District and they know that not too many residents in the surrounding neighborhoods can afford these brands and they still opened up.  I don't think a Walmart in the area would be detrimental but I don't think it should be in Midtown's 7 by 2 block area.

Brian Murphy Lmt
Brian Murphy Lmt

best way to stop it would be to not shop at WalMart... but that doesn't seem to be catching on anytime soon. The city should be only looking at the impact to the neighborhood as in traffic flow, size of buildings, etc. It should not matter that it is WalMart though... that would be discrimination.... so make sure your concerns don't get wrapped up in their negative business model but promote your positive neighborhood. I know WalMart is evil but you need to take the high road and hold them and anyone else that develops the area to it.

Jeff998
Jeff998

Sounds like one corrupt politician got a big payday, right Francisco Garcia?

John Salt
John Salt

Horrible traffic for no reason, loss of local stores and culture, rents will skyrocket... We HAVE to stop this!

John Salt
John Salt

For real, can we please stop this?

Anastasia Biltmore
Anastasia Biltmore

This is a TERRIBLE IDEA. WHO is going to shop there??? Midtowner's already have Target and are too politically sophisticated to shop at a store that abuses their employees and the welfare system in order to generate profits. The shoppers are going to be lower-socioeconomic groups that are going to drive out the upper income people from the area. As soon as this opens, watch the crime rate SKYROCKET.

Felix Cheshire Thompson
Felix Cheshire Thompson

Fuck it let them build that giant fucking eye sore and when we BOYCOTT the fuck out of it and they have to close up shop. The City can buy the thing and turn it into a Public art gallery.

Billy Porter
Billy Porter

Walmart sucks regardless of where they are built.

Lauren Kathryn
Lauren Kathryn

Target in midyow smells like shit and the shopping carts are filthy when you first walk in. I wouldn't give too much props. Ross has missing price tags on almost everything.

Alexander Fernandez
Alexander Fernandez

If you want to fight back, simply don't shop there. They'll never see me.

Charles M. LaBow
Charles M. LaBow

Havana North never says "no" to influential developers with generous cash campaign contributions.

Alessandra Cata
Alessandra Cata

110% of the construction are out of towners.... Mostly pre-cast project...

Ariana Hernandez Reguant
Ariana Hernandez Reguant

It really is an anti-gentrification move - if there was any hope to "middle-classify" wynwood, that is it. The gallery owners and the design district neighbors will not shop at Walmart: a Trader Joe's would be more appropriate for that demographic. The Walmart is for people living north and west. Maybe after shopping at Walmart they will wander into one of the design stores.... It is the proletarianization of Miami via corporations who want to eliminate the middle class that snubs them.

williamsc85
williamsc85

Isn't there a Target and a Loehmann's there already?? I can def understand the frustration with the traffic concerns and such, but any "artists" that are that fickle and couldn't benefit from the low prices of a Walmart proooooobably aren't real artists anyway, just rich brat hobbyists who make shitty paintings when they're high on drugs and sell em to other rich suckers high on their own narcissism.

And seriously, there were more than enough luxury condos when I left for Dallas in 2007, you can't possibly have a mature intellect that's not obsessed with real estate gambling if the lack of them popping up like tall (albeit brilliantly designed, in some cases) puspools of zits across the landscape is a huge concern of Walmart moving in... Thank god these Dallasites don't like their skylines to look like a terrible reality show intro on Bravo.

It's unfortunate to think of the dilemma this could create regarding foot traffic and such, but judging from how crowded things already were in 07, and how rapid the towers were rising, I find it hard to believe Walmart is the real enemy at all on the screwing pedestrian/traffic front. You would have had to be a complete idiot if you thought that side of town wouldn't become more congested and silly.

Ariana Hernandez Reguant
Ariana Hernandez Reguant

plus Target and Ross and Sports Auhority are sharing a building that does not particularly stand out. Nothing comparable to an entire city block with a cube box and a humongous suburban-like parking lot.

Tu Madre
Tu Madre

Ugh I hate Walmart. But hey Miami, if you want local businesses to close and you wanna buy "safe" products from places like China (hello nuclear meltdown not so long ago) then yeah by all means let Walmart take over ...ps u may want to look into that pesky lawsuit for employee abuse. Good day!

Nick Moss
Nick Moss

I've been in Wynwood for years - it will give (very slightly) cheaper products but overall be a detriment to the area. Reduces affluence of the neighborhood. Who wants to live or work next door to WalMart - get real. And that's aside from the whole humanitarian thing - Target and Ross etc at least offer a level of decency for their employees that I'm on board with. Maybe they operate in the same business but they sure feel a world apart to me. Just my opinion.

Sergio Alejandro
Sergio Alejandro

To the uninitiated, there's already a Target and an entire shopping mall in Midtown. WalMart's exploitative business practices are clearly not welcome in a community like Midtown, but thriving areas like that are NOTHING but profitable endeavors to the powers that be. Anyone who sees this as anything other than an inevitability is deluded. Show your discontent by not fucking going there.

Erin Erin
Erin Erin

Walmart is the devil of the economy!!!

Ariana Hernandez Reguant
Ariana Hernandez Reguant

it is proven that those big surface retail stores kill small merchants. and for sure an art scene. it is a disgrace. shame on the city powers-that-be.

Andrew Foster
Andrew Foster

Damn Walmartians will start showing up everywhere.

Najsoj Osnola
Najsoj Osnola

there is already a big box store in wynwood...walmart is trying to ruin another neighborhood as usual...there is absolutely no space in wynwood to put one of thos godforsaken shithole stores

Lady Mule
Lady Mule

Lelys yea...maybe. but more traffic for cyclists. Ugh!

Lelys Malespin
Lelys Malespin

Lady Mule will you hit this place at 3am like back in the day? lol

Albert Markovich
Albert Markovich

"provide residents with new job opportunities". More new slave labor they mean. This is grotesque. Can't happen.

williamsc85
williamsc85

Kenn it's definitely the people with enough money and intellect to be snobs and hate Walmart (as if Target or Ross are paying their employees anything close to $15/hr), but not enough to live in a real high-end area or care about the people displaced and ignored by their gentrification.

williamsc85
williamsc85

From the way you guys are whining I would think the rent should come down...

williamsc85
williamsc85

See... it's people like you that make me cheer for Walmart in this situation. Whether you like it or not, that five mile radius around midtown has far more people who could use a Walmart than a Whole Foods. If you're so anal about bumping coochies with people on the same class then you should have moved to Bal Harbour or Sunny Isles. Duh. The gall of some of you is outrageous and pathetic.

HarryTheHandyman
HarryTheHandyman topcommenter

@Anastasia Biltmore"Lower-socioeconomic groups" always drive up crime? Snobby much?  Just because of your comment, I hope they build it.

miamitrev2
miamitrev2 topcommenter

@Felix Cheshire Thompson  

Good luck with that

williamsc85
williamsc85

Lol. As if "trendy" is anything to envy.

miamitrev2
miamitrev2 topcommenter

@HarryTheHandyman  

I laughed at "too politically sophisticated"   Maybe she could come regale us with how she became so enlightened

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