MIAMI – A proposed Walmart in Midtown Miami was the focus at a public meeting Monday night.
Francisco Garcia, the city planning and zoning director, told concerned residents and business owners that a city ordinance needs to be amended to allow delivery service access, loading zones, and docks on North Miami Avenue south of busy Northeast 34th Street as far south as Northeast 29th Street to benefit any store, no matter how small or big.
"This site was originally master planned for a big box development," Garcia said.
Garcia described the garages as elegant and built inside the development to keep with the design aesthetic of the Shops at Midtown.
"We certainly feel we have all the tools necessary to insure that the aesthetics are top level," he said.
DDR, the company that manages the Shops at Midtown released a statement, saying: "We are seeking a minor change in the Midtown design guidelines to enhance pedestrian safety and make service and loading on the South Block more efficient. The access would be designed so that it is better hidden from view and minimizes interference with pedestrians, just as it is done on the North Block with Target today."
Still, some who live, work, and play in the trendy Midtown District have concerns that the loading zones would create architecturally unattractive danger zones for the pedestrian friendly urban area.
Walmart has been linked to a site along North Miami Avenue and Northeast 30th Street, and the company has been in development talks with the city for a year, offering ideas which include renderings of the proposed store.
"So, at this point, Walmart has spent a year of your time and resources without actually submitting anything on record," one neighbor told Garcia.
While others said they couldn't wait for a Walmart to come into the community, the world's largest retailer is yet to make an official deal to open its first store in Miami city limits.
"Well, there's still a lot to do. The city is working out and looking at different options. This property is appropriately zone. We want to serve our customers and bring 350 jobs and access to affordable foods," Walmart Spokesman Daniel Morales told Local 10's Baron James.
The city planning, zoning and appeals board takes up the issue on Wednesday. Then public hearings will be held before the Miami City Commission, which has the final say on the loading docks.