MIAMI COMMISSIONERS VOTE FOR THREE STORY MEGA WALMART IN MIDTOWN.
After almost four hours of testimony, miami Commissioners which included Commission Chair Marc Sarnoff and Commissioners Frank Carollo, Wifredo “Willy” Gort and Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, all were in favor of allowing Walmart to build a superstore in Midtown. (Commissioner Francis Suarez was absent.)
For more than two years, the city of Miami was heavily divided over this issue, pitting the community against each other. Attorneys were hired by both sides, leading to verbal sparring by attorneys representing the anti-Walmart movement against attorneys representing the retail giant.
Those for Walmart in Midtown were excited by the 300 jobs the company would bring to the area as well as the boost to the economy. They showed up to the hearing wearing Miami Loves Walmart T-shirts. (According to the Miami Herald, one man claimed he was offered $100 to don a tee and show up at City hall to support Walmart. Walmart denied paying anyone.)
Those against Walmart in Midtown spoke of the company’s hiring practices; that their low prices would put local mom and pops out of business, that local produce prices would hit bottom hurting local growers because of Walmart’s largesse, and that the addition of a Walmart would destroy the artsy character of the newly-developed trendy neighborhood.
For its part, Walmart bent over backwards to pacify the community. In February they went through several architectural design changes when Miami’s Urban Design Review Board rejected the project.
“We denied the project with a number of requested revisions and improvements,” Dean Lewis, one of the review board’s members told Miami Today in February, “but the final approval would come from the planning director, hopefully with our suggested revisions.”
Walmart then turned in a new set of revised plans complying with regulations to get their permit.
“Once we confirm that all those requirements are complied with we will issue the permit,” the City of Miami Planning Director Francisco Garcia had said at the time.
“It is design-wise a worthy development project,” said Garcia. “If the building permit is approved, there is an appeal period during which anyone can object and appeal the decision.
Walmart also complied with the city’s Midtown Miami zoning rules and ceded to all the demands that Garcia asked for.
Last Thursday, these cessions paid off when the city agreed that the zoning laws favored Walmart and they had adhered to Midtown’s zoning rules.
Sarnoff told the Miami Herald that he believed the four hours of testimony clearly showed that Walmart had complied in every way.
The new Walmart will be 203,000-square-foot, three-story megastore. The new Walmart intends to offer independent retail shops on the ground level of the structure. Their will be 577 parking spaces and several large loading bays. The site is at 3055 N Miami Avenue in Midtown.