News: Will Walmart Move Into Wynwood?

Grant Stern, President of Morningside Mortgage Corporation is trying to persuade Miamians to vote Walmart out of Midtown Miami. He urges, “Right now it’s time for the City of Miami to heed the will of its citizens, stakeholders and the plans we’ve created for Midtown Miami and issue a firm denial of application to Walmart.”

More than a year after plans were announced, Walmart still cannot fit an oversized Super Center store into Midtown Miami by design, hook or crook.

It’s been 18 months since New Times first reported mall owner DDR Corporation would sell out the South block of Midtown Miami Mall to the ravenous Betonville, Arkansas-based retailer. Two complete sets of plans have been delivered to the City of Miami, but neither follows local design standards.

At the latest public hearing on Walmart’s mayorally-backed redesign of Midtown last Wednesday the city’s Urban Development Review Board took a hard line stance against the latest designs for the Midtown Walmart yesterday, saying it flounced the zoning code, and giving Walmart the chance to rework and resubmit their plans. They were all like, to quote architect Willy Bermello, “I feel like a violin and I’m being played.” Walmart, used to ruling the world, decided not to resubmit their plans because, well, this board is just an advisory panel which (conveniently for Walmart) doesn’t hold any real power to block the supersized store. “We’re just at a point where the project is taking way too long,” Walmart’s attorney said. The decision is now in the hands of the city’s planning director Fransisco Garcia.

Walmart withheld plans from the public record — at the advice of high-priced counsel — while requesting to scrap a neighborhood Master Plan built around pedestrians. The company’s plans are so odious, they’ve convinced the city of Miami twice to hold public hearings without giving promised notice to stakeholders in the community.

The heart of efforts to prevent Walmart’s arrival in Midtown center on one simple premise: a Super Center and 600 parking spaces cannot fit into Midtown as designed.

Grant Stern got a look at the latest plans for the Midtown Walmart, which he took photos of and posted on his new Huffington Post blog. The retail giant wants to rewrite the New Urban zoning laws of Midtown, as it were, to accommodate its jumbo-sized store, eliminating trees, parallel parking spots, and sidewalk space.

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