Park may hinder construction of Midtown Walmart (by design?)

By | March 27th, 2012 | 7 Comments

There’s a new twist in the debate over Walmart and the future of Midtown Miami.

A developer opposed to the store opening in the neighborhood, Alex Vadia, has submitted to the City of Miami a preliminary design for “Mpark”, a new urban park to be located on a narrow strip of land on Midtown Boulevard near N.E. 29th Street. The location is significant: The park’s plan includes property that Walmart had planned to use to build the entrance for a parking garage with space for 650 cars.

MPark Rendering
A preliminary rendering of MPark

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Scenes from the rakontur cutting room floor

By | March 22nd, 2012 | No Comments
'Cocaine Cowboys' still

O Cinema celebrates 10 years of film making by rakontur, the Miami-based media studio behind Cocaine Cowboys (pictured).

As we mentioned in this week’s indie film guide, all of next week O Cinema will celebrate the first 10 years of film making by rakontur, the Miami-based media studio behind Cocaine Cowboys, The U, Square Grouper, and other Florida-centric documentaries. (For a chance to win a pair of all-access passes, sign up for the Beached Miami e-blast.)

With the retrospective set to begin on Monday with a screening of Raw Deal: A Question of Consent, an exposé on the contested rape of a 27-year-old exotic dancer at a University of Florida fraternity house, rakontur co-founder Billy Corben reflects on a scene that did not make it into the final cut.

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Major Midtown landowners clash over Walmart

By | March 22nd, 2012 | 4 Comments
Walmart via istockphoto

Two major Midtown landowners are battling over a proposed Walmart for the retail district. -- photo via istockphoto

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:

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Art Walk food truck roundup cancelled amid controversy

By | March 8th, 2012 | 13 Comments

The Wynwood Market, the usual gathering space for food trucks during Second Saturdays Art Walk, will be closed this Saturday. -- photo by Robby Campbell

The food truck roundup that accompanies Art Walk in Wynwood on the second Saturday of every month has been cancelled amid a storm of accusations between the food trucks operators and Brad Knoefler, the neighborhood activist who spearheaded the creation of Grand Central Park in downtown.

Art Walk itself will go on as usual (see our exhibition guide).

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City of Miami floats bike-share program as activism intensifies

By | March 8th, 2012 | 4 Comments
Miami bike activists pick up speed

Miami bike activists are picking up speed. -- photo by Robby Campbell

The Miami cyclist community was out in full force Wednesday night at O Cinema in Wynwood for the SafeStreetsMiami Forum, which was organized by the Green Mobility Network in the wake of cyclist Aaron Cohen’s death while riding his bike on the Rickenbacker Causeway last month. Here are a few key takeaways from the event:

Extended bike lane on Rickenbacker: The crowd grew restless a few times during the meeting when listening to public officials talk about “studies”, “plans”, and long-term goals to improve bike safety in the city and the county. The audience wanted to hear about concrete actions from the officials present, an influential list which included Jeff Cohen from Miami-Public Works, city bicycle coordinator Collin Worth, city commissioner Marc Sarnoff, and county commissioner Xavier Suarez. “What are you going to do in 30 days?” someone shouted from the back.

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WADA meeting to address neighborhood security, food trucks

By | March 6th, 2012 | No Comments

The Wynwood Arts District Association, a neighborhood association of business owners, is meeting today (Tuesday) at 5:30 p.m. outside of Wynwood Kitchen & Bar on N.W. Second Avenue to discuss the following issues.

Food trucks: Some gallery and restaurant owners believe that the food trucks that line N.W. Second Avenue during Art Walk on the second Saturday of the month are a nuisance. But not everyone, including, of course, the food truck owners, shares that view.

Neighborhood security: Unsanctioned graffiti is a problem in the neighborhood. WADA has been discussing getting additional security, but there have been concerns over the cost involved. Also, WADA has been working the city and District 2 Commissioner Marc Sarnoff to improve street lighting.

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Fox News zeroing in on Midtown Walmart story

By | March 6th, 2012 | 1 Comment

Fox News is requesting interviews with people involved in the Midtown Walmart debate.

The Midtown Walmart story might be getting the Fox News treatment.

A booker with the weekend edition of the show Fox & Friends has been reaching out to people involved in the issue, including anti-Walmart petitioner Grant Stern, to set up interviews.

Also likely to be on their list: Alicia Coker, who started a Facebook group on Monday called “Bring Walmart to Midtown” that, as of noon on Tuesday, March 6, has 21 members.

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Despite setback, Walmart to move forward in Midtown [UPDATED]

By | February 29th, 2012 | 8 Comments
Walmart via istockphoto

The company that wants to bring Walmart to Midtown has hit a road block with the City of Miami planning director. -- photo via istockphoto

Update #2: Walmart’s plans to open its first City of Miami location may have hit a snag with the city’s planning department Tuesday (see below), but the retail giant is nonetheless going forward with plans for a store in Midtown and is working on new plans to submit to the city, as well as a more robust community outreach effort. We will have more soon. For now, here’s the official statement from Steve Restivo, Walmart’s senior director of community affairs:

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Midtown developer asks city to reject Walmart zoning request

By | February 28th, 2012 | 3 Comments
Walmart Loading Zone

A Midtown developer is pushing back against what would be Miami's first Walmart.

Walmart’s plans to move to Midtown Miami may have just met their first organized and funded opposition. What seemed to be shaping up as a debate between community groups, residents, and business owners has reached another scale: Now, it’s developer versus developer.

The neighborhood’s newest big stake holder, Midtown Opportunities, has contracted the powerful law firm Holland and Knight in an effort to persuade the City of Miami to reject the zoning changes being requested by Walmart and Diversified Development Reality (DDR), the current owner of the land where Walmart’s Midtown store would be built.

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Bike safety public forum in the works following cyclist’s death

By | February 22nd, 2012 | 3 Comments
Miami Critical Mass

Following cyclist Aaron Cohen's death, local activists are ramping up their effort to make Miami a safer place to ride. -- photo by Robby Campbell

A public forum addressing bike safety in Miami-Dade is being planned following the death of an avid cyclist who was struck by a hit-and-run driver on the Rickenbacker Causeway last Wednesday.

“Lots of people are very upset about what happened — the tragic death of Aaron Cohen, and they are demanding action,” said Hank Sanchez-Resnik of the Green Mobility Network, the civic group organizing the event. “We’re trying to channel all of that energy into constructive solutions.”

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