At a meeting on Wednesday, the City of Miami’s Planning, Zoning, and Appeals Board (PZAB) will consider a proposed amendment to the Midtown Miami master plan that would permit service access and service loading along North Miami Avenue south of 34th Street — exactly where Walmart is planning to build its first Miami store.
Update: PZAB deferred its consideration of the amendment until Wednesday, July 18, at 6 p.m., at City Hall in Coconut Grove (3500 Pan American Drive).
If adopted, the amendment would clear the way for increased traffic congestion in Midtown, especially if Walmart ultimately moves in, says Grant Stern, who is leading a campaign against the proposed Walmart. Here’s an excerpt from Stern’s statement about the proposed amendment:
Midtown Miami’s goal is to avoid downtown Miami’s gridlock where small and medium loading zones dominate the urban landscape. These loading zones restrict daytime parking, and discourage or sometimes outright ban evening parking.
The Midtown Miami master plan specifically reserves specific areas for pedestrians and retail space versus off-street parking, loading zones, parking garage entrances. The ease of parking is a major draw to Midtown, including plentiful — revenue generating for the city — off-street parking spaces. Midtown’s loading zones exist under parking garages following Disney’s concepts of invisible service areas.
I strongly urge the Miami Planning and Zoning Board members to reject the Midtown Miami loading zone amendments. If it ain’t broke, don’t re-zone it.
The City of Miami itself is proposing the amendement, not Walmart, and the city commissioners must approve the amendment after two readings for it to be adopted. If PZAB does not defer the amendment on Wednesday, the city commissioners will then schedule the first reading for later in June with the second reading likely to follow in July.
The purpose of the amendment, according to the city’s proposal, is to “facilitate the development of approximately 4.59 acres of vacant land, create linkages between the North Block retail established to the north and future development to the south approaching NW 29th Street.” (Read full proposal.)
In other news related to the Midtown Walmart debate, which had gone quiet for a couple of months, David Lombardi, a developer who owns a lot of property in Midtown and Wynwood, recently sent the director of the City of Miami’s Planning Department a letter voicing his opposition to the Midtown Walmart. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
I feel that the project as proposed will change the pedestrian connectivity that we currently enjoy flowing South down Midtown Boulevard to my tenants such as Morgan’s Restaurant and Cross Fit fitness gym.
Wal-mart had been offering to do capital improvements to my site, but I just feel that it is the wrong project for our community at this time. It is too big and will bring too much car traffic, changing the intended original concept for the immediate areas around Midtown.
If we want to attract good jobs to this area, the project should remain a pedestrian friendly urban environment and not a huge suburban sprawling retail building with a huge garage attracting thousands of cars per day in and out of the neighborhood.
To read Lombardi’s letter in full, click HERE.
Walmart, for its part, contends that its first Miami location would create hundreds of jobs and give the neighborhood’s residents better access to fresh foods. The retail giant is circulating the following “10 Facts About Walmart” document as part of a community-outreach strategy.
Depending on the fate of the city’s proposed amendment at Wednesday’s PZAB meeting, the debate over the Midtown Walmart and the future of Midtown itself may intensify. To learn more about the Midtown Walmart debate, check out the following links.
— “Walmart de Mexico scandal rocks retail giant”
— “Grill Walmart: The retail giant answers your questions”
— “Grill Walmart: The retail giant is fielding your questions”
— “Park may hinder construction of Midtown Walmart”
— “Major Midtown landowners clash over Walmart”
— “Fox News zeroing in on Midtown Walmart story”
— “Despite setback, Walmart to move forward in Midtown”
— “Midtown developer asks city to reject Walmart zoning request”
— “Opinion: City should reject Walmart zoning request”
— “Puerto Rican business group supports Midtown Walmart”
— “Midtown Walmart Would Force Art Fairs Out”
— “Plans for Midtown Walmart emerge with zoning request”
— “Op-ed: Midtown Walmart will hurt job growth, local businesses”