Seems like we have something in common with the folks in Miami: they did not want a big box Walmart in Midtown Miami, and they fought it bitterly, every step of the way: protests, appeals, shout-outs, anti-Walmart websites, even creating a blog called “People of Walmart” that portrayed Walmart customers in “an unflattering light, usually overweight and underdressed.”
Still, looks like they are getting one.
“Walmart’s plan would spoil a $170 million community investment in midtown Miami,” Grant Stern, spokesman for NoWalmartinMidtown.com, said in a statement. “Walmart has made an end run around important local regulations and obtained a flawed approval for their Super Center… We must stand up for rule of law in our community today, or we’ll wind up with more architectural disasters like this proposed Walmart littering our landscape.”
Opponents of the store stood right outside Miami City Hall’s glass chamber doors when Miami Commissioners listened to almost four hours of contentious testimony and debate before unanimously granting Walmart the green light, granting them a Class II Special Permit. Opponents vowed to fight the issue in court, and insisted their city leaders “overstepped the boundaries by not requiring Walmart to apply for major zoning variances.”
Are you having deja vu yet?
Funny: during the contentious debates last November, Miami’s chamber was packed with people wearing Miami Loves Walmart T-shirts. One man, wouldn’t give his name, but told a Miami Times reporter he wasn’t even aware of the Walmart issue. Someone just offered him $100 to show up at City Hall in support of the project. Supporters said Walmart was bringing in needed jobs to the area. Opponents noted the company’s poor hiring practices and treatment of employees.
“Walmart representatives flatly denied paying anyone.”
Miami activists complained of way more than I’ve heard in most Dallas gripes:
“…the retailer’s hiring practices, of how its low prices on everything from food to clothing could put small nearby mom and pop shops out of business, and how the chain’s cornering of the market would ultimately cause local produce prices to plunge, hurting local growers.”
Do we have these same concerns in Dallas?
The Walmart opponents won one hearing back in February, 2013, when Miami’s architectural advisory panel unanimously rejected a version of the plan because “decorative planters would be used to cover the garages on the second and third floors instead of screening.”
But then, they got the go-ahead to build a 203,000-square-foot, three-story superstore, with 577 parking spaces and several loading bays in the site, at Midtown Miami’s south end. The new Walmart will be modernized with a pastel exterior, and lined with retail shops on much of the ground level. Walmart closed on the deal in late January, but their property ownership comes with several strings attached, including an obligation to let another developer create linear retail. Wallmart also has to maintain the property according to strict guidelines by the developer, else they can step in and maintain. Court battles to stop this big box store are still pending. (Can you imagine if this were a Sam’s?)
THEN another Miami Wal Mart, this one in Doral on Northwest 87th Avenue, recently underwent a bomb threat. According to reports in the media, it has a cafesito bar, vision center, McDonalds and photo center.
And it is said to be the highest grossing Walmart in the nation!