On March 29, we gave you the opportunity to grill Walmart on its controversial plan to open its first location in the City of Miami, a two-story store in Midtown, and scores of you took the opportunity to be heard in the form of post comments, emails, tweets, and Facebook postings.
This is a community contribution as part of Beached Miami and Open Media Miami’s joint commitment to provide community news and opinion.
With thousands expected to attend a related rally at Bayfront Park on Sunday, an array of Liberty City community members, diverse in age and ethnicity, gathered in a brightly painted room at the Belafonte Tacolcy Center on Friday to pray and come to terms with the controversial death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who was not officially arrested for the shooting.
A 17-year-old African American who attended Dr. Michael Krop Senior High School, Martin was visiting his father in Sanford, Fl., when Zimmerman shot him dead in an incident that has garnered international attention and outrage among those who see it as a case of deadly racial profiling. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense.
Walmart’s plan to open its first City of Miami location, a two-story store in Midtown, has sparked contentious debate between people who see it as a threat to an emerging neighborhood and others who see it as a boon to residents who will benefit from easy access to inexpensive goods and new jobs. With so much at stake, Beached Miami, which has been leading the local media with its coverage of the Midtown Walmart debate, asked the retail giant if it would field questions from our readers. To its credit, Walmart agreed to be grilled.
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.
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:
In the last few years, during the precipitous decline of Miami’s real estate fortunes, small urban parks have been replacing unbuilt towers, filling in the gaps of the city’s downtown core. Although the city has a new-ish and moderately ambitious parks master plan inspired by the Miami 21 zoning code, most of these parks are the result of independent, grassroots activism or private interests.
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).
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.
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.
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: