MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Activists who oppose building a Walmart in Midtown Miami are voicing their concerns at a city meeting on zoning changes for North Miami Avenue between Ne 30th and NE 31st Street.
The public meeting at Roberto Clemente Park on NW 34th Street, will focuses on a proposal which would change a city ordinance which regulates street access for service trucks. Current rules prohibit loading bay entrances on North Miami Avenue south of Northeast 34th Street.
The planning department wants to tweak the language to allow for entrances as far south as Northeast 29th Street, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
“Walmart is on another level, another scale of size and it really ruins entire areas of retail environments where it goes,“ said Richard Strell President of N.E.A.R Neighborhood of Edgewater Association of Residents. “It will affect the quality of life adversely.”
Grant Stern agrees. The local businessman has collected more than 2500 signatures on his website nowalmartinmidtown.com
“They don’t fit with the area and they intend to bring a tremendous amount of traffic to the area and outside of the neighborhood, “ said Stern. “This is suppose to be a community retail center.”
Luis DeRosa disagreed. He remembered similar criticism when he fought to bring the Shops at Midtown to the area.
“I think Walmart is going to not only increase the tax base for the city its gonna create over 300 jobs that’s usually what takes place when a new Walmart comes into the area,” said DeRosa.”
Walmart’s Senior Director of Community Affairs, Steven Restivo released the following statement:
“Midtown was developed as a central shopping destination and we believe our store will not only complement the existing businesses in the area but also serve as a magnet for future growth. What’s more, we can be part of the solution for residents who want more job opportunities and affordable grocery options close to home, many of whom are now going out of their way to shop and work at Walmart.”
The change would be important for Walmart which would like to build a new megastore in the southernmost block in the Midtown shopping district.
Miami’s Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board plans to take up the proposed change at their meeting on Wednesday.
Planning Director Francisco Garcia said the proposed change makes sense, regardless of who sets up shop on the parcel.
“I think Walmart is going to not only increase the tax base for the city, it’s going to create over 300 jobs,” said Luis Derosa, with the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce. “That’s usually what takes place when a new Walmart comes into the area.”
Neighborhood activists, however, say it would create a dangerous environment for pedestrians along North Miami Avenue. They add that it drive out other businesses.
“They don’t fit with the area and they intend to bring a tremendous amount of traffic to the area and outside the neighborhood,” said Grant Stern. “This is supposed to be a community retail center.”
Walmart has expressed an interest in a vacant lot located between Northeast 29th Street and Northeast 31st Street, and runs from North Miami Avenue to Midtown Boulevard. While Walmart has not submitte a proposal for the necessary planning permits, company executives said they do plan to do so by the end of the year.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.