New Wal-Mart Project Puts Midtown at Risk
by Sep Niakan | September 26, 2013
Over the years, Midtown Miami has evolved into a trendy urban haven. Adjacent to even edgier Wynwood and home to charming sidewalk cafes, art galleries, and world class restaurants, the Design District is now in danger of losing its cultural appeal. That threat stems from a decision by the Miami Planning and Zoning Department to approve a special permit for the construction of a Wal-Mart in Midtown.
The new permit approval for Wal-Mart is yet another salvo in the ongoing battle to maintain the trendy feel of Midtown. With the previous construction of Marshalls and Target, the cultural feel that makes this neighborhood so popular was already teetering on the edge. While the local citizenry has gradually accepted these two projects, the construction of Wal-Mart simply seems to be too much to take. Along with putting the low-key urban feel that has become such an attraction of Midtown further at risk, the construction of Wal-Mart will also most certainly result in decreased property values.
As plans for the project continue to move forward, it has become increasingly important for concerned citizens to make their voices heard. Miami has certainly demonstrated the potential for taking this city to true greatness. Recently, there had even been the sense that Midtown, along with its surrounding neighborhoods, could continue on a path toward becoming a trendy alternative to South Beach. The Design District has already become a popular destination for fashion, arts, and design. Now, all of that potential is at peril.
"Wal-Mart is definitely an unwelcomed and completely avoidable step backward," insists Sep Niakan, owner and broker of HB Roswell Realty. With the recent conversion of Midblock to condos and with plans underway for two additional condo complexes, developers may well find it difficult to market luxury condos situated directly across the street from a massive Wal-Mart.
The simple fact of the matter is that the proposed three-story 203,000-square foot project does not conform with the design standards for the neighborhood. Furthermore, no amount of compromises regarding the design of the store will negate the fact that such a sprawling structure, complete with two parking garages to accommodate nearly 600 vehicles, will create a jarring interruption in an otherwise trendy oasis.
While we certainly applaud the general attempt of the Planning and Zoning Department's attempts at design integration, we feel that the massive amount of traffic this new project will most certainly bring will ultimately result in permanent damage to the local urban neighborhood feel of Midtown.
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