MIAMI (CBS4) – It could shape up as a battle for a key re-development project in the crown jewel of an inner city’s rebirth: Miami’s midtown district off Miami avenue and NW 34th street.
During the middle of the day, it’s not hard to see there’s a lot more space for new developments and it’s in the shadows of some major new condo projects.
And it may soon be the new home to a Walmart Superstore.
Since 2005, the world’s largest retailer has tried to open a new store in Miami.
Despite it representing a possible multi-million dollar construction project and potentially adding hundreds of new jobs to the community, Walmart’s faced stiff opposition.
Local resident Grant Stern’s already collected several hundred signatures on a new online petition drive at www.nowalmartinmidtown.com that he just started. He wants to block Walmart from opening a new Midtown store.
“I started the petition because Walmart is not a job creator, it’s a job killer. It kills local small businesses and this area has been underserved for years,” said Stern. “It’s moving in just as this area is finally starting to regrow.”
While Walmart declined to comment to CBS4 about it’s Midtown plans, published reports indicate it may already have a contract for this property.
In a prepared statement Walmart says :
“In large cities all across the country, customers are shopping Walmart. Miami is no different and we think our store can be part of the solution for residents who need a job or want more convenient access to affordable food and other products their families need,” said Walmart spokesman Steve Restivo.
While critics say Walmart increases traffic and drives out other businesses, the economic impact of all the construction, new hiring and sales revenues can’t be denied.
Miami resident Roosevelt Merisier thinks Miami needs more economic development and thinks Walmart would be a good neighbor.
Merisier, an assistant manager at a local pharmacy, says his store gets dozens of job applicants a week and knows the local job market is still very tight.
“They just got to create more development, there aren’t enough new opportunities here,” said Merisier. “They need to do more to create a lot more opportunities.”
Miami City officials say they are not aware of Walmart’s possible plans for a new store in Midtown, which could be open and ready to start hiring by next year.
But they say it would still have to undergo building and zoning approvals from City Hall and possible Public Hearings to consider any opposition.