MIAMI - With no formal application filed yet, Walmart is already facing mounting opposition to its plan to build a 160,000-square-foot store in Miami's Midtown district.
The district is located between Northeast 29th and 31st streets, from North Miami Avenue to Northeast Avenue.
"Walmart is looking to place a giant loading zone into a pedestrian zone," said Miami resident Grant Stern, who has started an online petition against the plan.
The only drawing officially submitted is for the garage entrance and loading dock area, for which Walmart will ask the city of Miami for a design variance.
On Wednesday afternoon, people questioned in Midtown had not yet heard of the plan, and had mixed reactions.
"I love Walmart, the convenience, the prices, everything," said resident Natalie Alvarez.
"I think it will ruin small business around us, and this is just growing," said Raul, who was having lunch at a sidewalk cafe.
The company contracted for a Traffic Impact Analysis that predicts 470 more cars and another 650 people at the site during peak hours.
"The area is already very congested," said Rushell Greaves, who frequently sees clients in Midtown. "It's kind of an artsy, touristy area. That's what they're trying to promote, and I think that would be ideal."
Whether Walmart will be a welcome employer in a mixed-use, mixed-demographic neighborhood or a big box bully that will ruin a burgeoning urban arts community may not matter. The company and land developer, Cleveland-based Developers Diversified Realty, which owns the vacant land, have the right to build.
The question before city of Miami leaders will involve design standards.
In an emailed statement, a Walmart spokesman said, "We already employ more than 4,000 associates in Miami-Dade County while serving tens of thousands of customers and are always looking for opportunities to make access to our stores more convenient."
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