The development company that owns Midtown Shops allegedly threatened to use an unorthodox legal tactic as part of its effort to bring Walmart to Midtown, one that the opposing lawyer called “distasteful” in a letter submitted to the City of Miami. That same letter also gives a hint of the legal and city code issues that could decide if the store is ever built or not.
The letter (in full below) is from Midtown Opportunities, a company managed by Alex Vadia that owns undeveloped land in Midtown and is opposed to Walmart’s plans to build a store in the neighborhood. The letter presents two key arguments:
1. It argues that Walmart’s plans to build a driveway on Midtown Boulevard violate the design standards that apply to the neighborhood.(The original plans for the driveway were withdrawn after the planning department indicated that they would not be approved. Walmart has indicated that it will submit new plans.)
2. Midtown Opportunities own a strip of land on the lot where Walmart wants to build its parking garage, and the lawyer representing Midtown Opportunities argues in the letter that there is no access agreement in place that would allow Walmart to use any portion of its land for the parking garage entrance. This is a disputed point, and one that could have a significant bearing on how the process proceeds.
The legal tactics in question show just how contentious the Walmart issue has become between Midtown’s two biggest landowners.
Diversified Development Realty is trying to sell the parcel of land on Midtown Boulevard and N.E. 29th street to Walmart. While DDR has not made its contract with Walmart public, it is likely that the transaction cannot go through until the city has approved the site development plan, or the design of the store Walmart intends to build. On that front DDR is facing fierce opposition from Midtown Opportunities.
Last month, Midtown Opportunities submitted a letter to the planning department outlining its opposition to DDR’s plans. Midtown Opportunities has now submitted another letter to the city, which the company says is in response to a letter it received from DDR. The Midtown Opportunities letter is a public record and can be read in full below, but the gist is this: Midtown Opportunities claims that DDR threated to send a letter to the city on behalf of Midtown Opportunities, withdrawing Midtown’s opportunities opposition to DDR’s plans.
We reached out to DDR to try to confirm Midtown Opportunities’ allegation, but we have not heard back yet. We will update this post when/if we learn more. Midtown Opportunities said Alex Vadia would not be available for comment.
Midtown Opportunities says it reacted to the DDR threat by reiterating its stance to the city in this latest letter, which goes on to say, “If DDR has made (or makes) any representations to you regarding Midtown Opportunities position inconsistent with the statements set forth herein, please know that these representations are entirely false.”
They next key step will be when Walmart submits its new design for a parking garage and the store, which is widely rumored to be by the architectural firm Gensler. How and if that complies with the city’s code, or the Midtown Design Standards, will almost certainly be the subject of another round of dueling letters from well-paid lawyers.
Here is the Midtown Opportunities letter.
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This post was produced in partnership with Open Media Miami.