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Walmart Plans To Set Up Shop In Midtown Miami

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MIAMI (CBS4)- There are a lot of eateries, bars and retail stores in the downtown Miami area. But there may be another grander addition to that list.

Walmart is moving forward with plans to set up shop in the Midtown area, the first store in the city of Miami.

Six years ago, the discount retailer first tried to open a store at The Shops at Midtown Miami, and now they’re back with plans.

According to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald, Walmart Florida spokeswoman Michelle Belaire said the company has a contract with Developers Diversified Realty to buy five acres of land and is working on a site plan to be submitted to the city in the next couple of months.

The company doesn’t need any zoning change or land use variances for the site, she told the Herald.

“We are working with a world-renowned architect to produce a one-of-a-kind Walmart that would be consistent with the design of the area,” Belaire said. “We’re fleshing out the plan to ensure that we meet all the necessary requirements before submission.”

Preliminary plans call for a 155,000-square-foot store with a full-service grocery store, which would be just slightly larger than the center’s existing Target; it would be located on undeveloped property at the south end of Midtown Miami on North Miami Avenue.

If approved, the store would likely open in late 2013 or early 2014.

This is the same location where Walmart in 2005 had proposed a nontraditional, design with a multilevel parking garage that was shot down by then Miami City Commissioner Johnny Winton and other city officials.

But at that time, Midtown Miami was still under construction.

While the Walmart deal was never officially voted down by city officials, Winton made it clear he didn’t believe Walmart’s “image” was suitable for the project, the Herald reported.

“That site is not one we want to be known as a Walmart site,” Winton told the Herald in 2005.

The location was later designated for a JCPenney, but that store never materialized.

This time around Walmart hopes to build a store with a two-level parking garage above, Belaire said. The garage would have at least 600 spaces for free use by shoppers. The design also is expected to include some small retail shops lining the front of the store and opening out to the street, to coincide with Midtown’s pedestrian-friendly orientation, she said. The store is also expecting to employ up to 350 people once they move forward with plans.

For years Walmart has been looking at locations throughout Miami’s urban core, according to the Herald.

“Miami is a tremendously underserved community for us,” Belaire said. “We know the City of Miami residents shop our stores. Right now they’re leaving the city and coming into our stores elsewhere in Miami-Dade County.”

Walmart would join the lineup at Midtown Miami that includes Target, Marshalls, HomeGoods, PetSmart, Ross Dress for Less and The Sports Authority.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)

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