Amendment + Walmart would snarl Midtown traffic, say critics

By | June 18th, 2012 | 17 Comments
Walmart Loading Zone

A proposed amendment to permit above-ground service loading in Midtown may reignite the Midtown Walmart debate.

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.

Related 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”

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17 Comments on “Amendment + Walmart would snarl Midtown traffic, say critics”

  1. 1 Brian said at 12:10 am on June 19th, 2012:

    Looks like what Walmart offered Lombardi (infrastructure) in exchange for his support is a BRIBE; just like in Mexico. Thanks Lombardi for not excepting Walmarts Bribe, I hope the city of Miami doesn’t except it by amending the code

  2. 2 Jimbo99 said at 12:31 am on June 19th, 2012:

    Walmart would be no worse than any other shopping that is currently in that area for traffic. It would foster & promote increased competition for lower cost goods for residents, the only one’s that oppose Walmart are those that know they can’t compete with Walmart, simply because they are unwilling to lower prices to consumers voluntarily. So yeah, these Mom & Pop storefronts go out of business, but for everyone else that has been gouged for decades, it’s a win situation. South Beach is no different. Let’s just take the decobike bike share business ? Imagine being able to buy a bicycle for your own private use for 1/2 the price of an annual membership. Going green actually saves you the green that each of us works so hard for. Don’t get me wrong, decobike is great for tourists, that probably continues uneffected. But locals get a quality product for less thru Walmart, and that scares those unwilling to make price concessions to a customer base in that community.

  3. 3 JennyLee said at 12:37 am on June 19th, 2012:

    Dear Wal-Mart. We have Target. Signed, Midtown Residents.

  4. 4 David said at 10:49 am on June 19th, 2012:

    $100 Jimbo99 works for Walmart. That’s a bet not a Bribe

  5. 5 Lauren said at 11:07 am on June 19th, 2012:

    @Jimbo99: I have a small business that doesn’t compete with Walmart (we sell items they do not), but for other unique, Miami-made businesses that unfortunately do have to compete with them, please understand it’s not simply an UNWILLINGNESS to lower prices. It’s incredibly difficult to remain viable, pay your rent, take care of your employees, and provide a worthwhile service or product to your customers… and yet these entrepreneurs persevere. These are the places that make our area of Miami unique and not a chain-after-chain strip-mall fest like Kendall (where I’m from, and left as soon as I could). The small business owners in the Midtown area should be applauded, not potentially ran under by one of the world’s largest corporations who can afford to make literally just a few pennies on an item because millions of sales like that add up. There are entire documentaries on the devastation Walmarts cause to cities and towns, I would recommend you do a little research.

    The whole thing I don’t understand is why can’t Walmart just put a store somewhere ELSE?? There are many, many lots in a 5-10 miles radius that would be accessible to the people who do actually want this, without destroying one of the only great pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods around. Walmart blatantly doesn’t care about anything but their bottom line and that “10 Facts About Walmart” page is pandering and propaganda of the worst kind. I truly hope that for Miami’s sake that this store doesn’t go up in Midtown.

  6. 6 SpeakUp said at 11:40 am on June 19th, 2012:

    ATTEND THE MEETING TONIGHT

    If you are against Walmart in Midtown then attend the meeting tonight and speak up. The board doesn’t read your angry internet comments or your tweets. There is a disconnect in Miami, everyone wants a better Miami but nobody will get off their ass and do something about it. Attend meetings, be involved, speak with your commissioners, start an advocacy group. Or you can sit on your ass and watch your city self destruct and wish that it were more progressive like San Fran or Seattle. Hold your politicians accountable, they are supposedly there to serve YOU.

    6:30 PM – Miami City Hall – 3500 Pan American Drive

  7. 7 Looky said at 12:28 pm on June 19th, 2012:

    The meeting to stop Walmart is tomorrow Night (Wed) not tonight. See you all there:
    Wed June 20 – 6:30 PM – Miami City Hall – 3500 Pan American Drive

  8. 8 Jimbo99 said at 1:06 pm on June 19th, 2012:

    I don’t work for WalMart. I’m just thinking that the businesses that really don’t compete with WalMart have zero to worry about. WalMart will bring jobs, groceries and lower cost items while competing with Target. It’s actually a win situation for the Target shopper, a Huffy bike is a Huffy bike, regardless of whether WalMart or Target is selling it and to be honest Target is a little higher priced . So as far as anyone is really concerned, what difference does it make whether it’s Target or WalMart that wins the territory ?

  9. 9 Jimbo99 said at 1:17 pm on June 19th, 2012:

    Lauren, there is a Target there just the same, the same concept, yet they don’t close Mom & Pop businesses ? I see your point about the devastation, I’ve read and seen the 60 minutes stories. Just me, but that is from the perspective of the losers that go up against WalMart. Look at it from the winner’s perspective ? How many managers does Wal-Mart employ, how many more employees are they going to hire and keep the store adequately staffed ?

  10. 10 Lauren said at 1:23 pm on June 19th, 2012:

    @Jimbo99: There is quantity, and there is quality. I guarantee you my employees are overall happier than those at Target, Walmart, etc. The Target is already there and has been now for 5+ years (it arrived when the neighborhood was still getting its legs) so to second JennyLee, that’s fine and dandy so why does this immediate area ALSO need a Walmart?

    Walmart is obviously going to keep opening stores as along as it’s profitable for them, but I just think it’s shitty that they are trying to put one in a pedestrian neighborhood that would need to be rezoned to allow the congestion they will inevitably bring. If I was paying the high (for the area) rent at Midtown I would be outraged.

  11. 11 Jimbo99 said at 1:47 pm on June 19th, 2012:

    LOL, WalMart at NE 163rd Street, they crush that entire Mall itself. Just for giggles, compare WalMart to CVS or Walgreens pharmacies. I’m not buying the lack of quality argument.

  12. 12 Idiot Spotter said at 3:08 pm on June 19th, 2012:

    If Francisco Garcia is involved (as head of planning and zoning) this project will get rubber stamp approval all the way. This man has never seen a development he didn’t like.

  13. 13 swampthing said at 6:14 pm on June 19th, 2012:

    A wallmart in midtown will add a cache of bourgeois between the devastated designdistrict and waylay wynwood. Plus i like loading docks so it’s a slam dunk for the swamp.

  14. 14 rosa said at 11:38 am on June 20th, 2012:

    walmart at midtown, and a winn dixie also

  15. 15 rosa said at 11:41 am on June 20th, 2012:

    why not a casino, also, I approve a hotel like haptom inn at 36st 34 ave across from the casino miami/.

  16. 16 Peter Ehrlich said at 1:35 am on June 24th, 2012:

    NE 29th Street and N. Miami Avenue already are grid locked during the morning and the afternoon rush hours. When there is construction on 36th Street and N. Miami Avenue or on N. Miami Avenue it can take 25+ minutes to drive 6-7 blocks.

    Oppose WalMart on the 29th to 33rd Street vacant lot. Imagine 18 wheelers trying to enter and exit onto N. Miami Avenue? Think 20 to 40 minutes traffic jams.

    Show up July 18th at City Hall.

    Wouldn’t several smaller high end stores be a better fit?

  17. 17 Peter Ehrlich said at 12:25 am on January 2nd, 2014:

    Opponents to the proposed Walmart contemplate an Appeal to Circuit Court. The fight is not over.


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