Opponents of the midtown Miami Walmart won't surrender.
Miami Circuit Court Judge Michael Hanzman yesterday said Miami Planning Director Francisco Garcia should hand over "qualifying emails" related to the construction of the 203,000-square-foot, three-story store planned for North Miami Avenue at NW 29th Street.
Though a court found in favor of the megastore and a three-judge panel denied an appeal, faithful opposition leader Grant Stern just keeps fighting. The store may have broken ground for the project in January, but that hasn't stopped the fedora-wearing activist.
"This is bigger than Benghazi," he says. "They circumvented the public records laws and lied like motherf——rs."
Walmart spokesman Phillip Keene, however, says, "We have no updates to share on the project at this time."
Stern contends the city did not follow its own rules in approving the store. He says Garcia — who did not answer his phone Tuesday and whose phone mailbox is full — has lied. Stern also says the city never obtained documents needed to build. Those facts, he says, should make the store illegal.
"There is a set of documents they admitted on Friday night aren't in the file," Stern says. "Some of them are the most basic documents required to build a building."
Many neighbors and Stern are concerned the store — just a couple blocks south of a Target — will be out of character with the neighborhood. It is just two blocks from the main drag of Wynwood, which has become perhaps the city's premier tourist draw and is filled with boutiques, galleries, and restaurants.
The city, it seems, did not hand over all documents requested in the earlier lawsuit. Garcia had used his personal email account to communicate about the project. Stern knows there was one personal email about the project and suspects there are more.
"We at least know there is one email showing he did city business on personal email," says Faudlin Pierre, an attorney representing Stern in a public records proceeding. "Basically, the city has to certify these don't exist or hand them over."
Stern last year deposed Garcia:
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And then he won this order:
We will update this post after hearing back from Garcia.