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Walmart plan gets OK

Midtown store will benefit Little Haiti shoppers

Ashley Montgomery | 10/17/2013, 9 a.m.

Last Wednesday, the Miami Zoning appeals board denied a group of activists’ appeal to stop a Walmart from being built in Midtown Miami. But according to the group’s leader, mortgage broker Grant Stern, they will continue to air their criticisms in efforts to slow down the construction of the store. Stern and his group argue that the Walmart plan did not follow proper protocols of the Midtown zoning code.

“What they are saying and what they are doing are two different things,” Stern said.

Stern, bothered by this “unusual planning process” believes that even though he and his counterparts presented the board with factual citations they still were unable to win the votes of those on the panel.

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Bill Wertz

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Grant Stern

Miami’s Planning & Zoning Appeals Board denied the appeal 6-4.

A spokesman for Wal-Mart, Bill Wertz, says that they are excited about the approval for the store and are anxious to move forward. The megastore would be built between NE 29th and 31st streets and Midtown Boulevard and North Miami Avenue.

Wertz said that Wal-mart has invested many man hours in to revising their proposal which was first submitted last year.

Among the complaints lodged by Stern are: there are too many loading bays; an alley that is too long; and the upper-levels of the three-story proposal aren’t set far back enough.

Wal-mart’s says jobs will be plentiful

Wertz said that he has high hopes that this is the final word because this store means a lot to the community, particularly in the way of job opportunities.

“We have met with several community leaders, groups and nonprofits from the surrounding neighborhoods, including Overtown, in order to seek their support for the store and to hear their concerns,” he said.

Wertz stresses the importance of adding this additional store to the Midtown area.

“There will be over 350 jobs added and affordable prices on fresh produce that will become available to the whole community which includes Overtown, Little Haiti and Allapattah,” he said. “Currently there are residents who take the bus 22 miles because it is the closest store to them. Now residents will be able to simply cross the street.”

Wertz noted that Wal-Mart’s U.S. workforce is about 1.3 million associates, including more than 807,000 female associates and more than 255,000 Black associates.

Last Thursday, Miami Gardens Palmetto Gardens Plaza signed a lease that will bring a Walmart neighborhood market to their community. Unlike the super-centers already located in Miami Gardens, this particular store will be one quarter of the size. The market will only sell produce, grocery and pharmaceuticals.