From the moment Walmart announced plans to build a 16,000-square-foot store in the heart of midtown, activists have clashed with the retail giant over whether the store could fit into the booming neighborhood's aesthetic. Last night, the city's Urban Development Review Board chimed in with a resounding rejection of Walmart's plans.
Unfortunately for anti-Walmart types, it might not matter. The board can only advise Miami's planning director, who gets to make the final call on his own.
Board members didn't mince words about Walmart's plans for the midtown development, lashing out over features they say violate the neighborhood's strict zoning plan.
Specifically, they criticized the plan for failing to include screens for a rooftop parking garage and liners to conceal parking on lower floors, the Miami Herald reports.
"I feel like a violin and I'm being played," complained architect Willy Bermello, a board member who also told the Herald he thought Walmart was trying to "get away with" breaking the rules.
After the board rejected Walmart's plans, the retail giant declined to revise its design and return for another hearing, with an attorney saying the project was "taking way too long."
Instead, the company will put its project's fate in the hands of Miami planning director Francisco Garcia, who has the final say on whether to OK the store. (Walmart would only have to go for a commission vote if it asked for exceptions to midtown's zoning rules, the Herald reports.)
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"Today's Urban Design and Review Board was a procedural step in the City's approval process, and we value the feedback provided by the board and members of the public. We will continue working with the City and community to deliver a store that reflects the look and feel of Midtown Miami while providing new job opportunities and shopping options to our Miami customers."