Walmart is a poor fit for Midtown Miami

Midtown Miami

01/10/2012 5:03 AM

01/10/2012 2:36 PM

This article is an opinion piece cross-posted from OpenMediaMiami.com Join the conversation here or find us on Facebook.

I’ve been a resident of Miami for 11 years, and during that time I’ve lived in the Upper East side, Wynwood, Omni, Little Haiti, the MiMo District, and more recently, in downtown Miami near the performing arts center.

I have personally witnessed the proliferation of art galleries, restaurants and nightlife venues, all made possible by the the creative power of numerous unique individuals. The area’s residents, its small business people, its artists and entrepreneurs have conspired to create a uniquely vibrant set of neighborhoods in spite of a rough national economy and the local real estate bust.

The last thing this thriving experiment in urban renewal needs is the presence of Walmart in Midtown.

Walmart, the standard bearer of international corporate power and conformity, just doesn’t fit the image that so many have worked to create for Midtown and the Wynwood Arts District, and placing the world’s largest discount retailer in the city’s hub of arts and culture just doesn’t make sense.

The arrival of Walmart could also prove challenging for the numerous mom and pop stores that sell groceries, clothing and life’s other necessities in nearby Overtown, Little Haiti, Alapattah and Wynwood. These small business owners spend their profits locally and provide important services to nearby residents for whom driving isn’t an option.

If Walmart moves in, many of these businesses would be unable to match WalMart’s ”Low Prices, Everyday” and would close. Areas already hit hard by unemployment would experience yet more job losses. While Walmart would make some hires of its own, the truth is that the company isn’t a net provider of jobs, merely a re-locator of jobs from nearby small businesses.

The company that plans to sell the Midtown land to Walmart, DDR Corp, is also the owner of Midtown shops, home to Target, Marshals, Ross, and half a dozen restaurants. By offering a Midtown location to the ultimate “big box” store, DDR is risking the loss of current and future tenants by bringing in a ruthless competitor.

At the same time, increasing auto traffic stands to spoil Midtown Miami’s successes, risking its long-term viability as a destination for corporate and boutique retailers.

Worse of all, there may be little anyone can do about it. If Walmart completes its purchase of the land and makes a plan conforming to zoning regulations, the city commission won’t have to vote on the issue, and we may have few options to prevent what could be devastating setback from occurring in the heart of Miami’s revitalized urban center.

Editor's note: Do you disagree with what Grant Stern had to say about Walmart in Midtown? You can submit a reply here . At Open Media Miami, we're always looking for different perspectives on Midtown, Wynwood and the Biscayne Corridor.

Grant Stern writes Realty articles on his blog CondoTerminators.net as well as for CondoVultures.com. He also sits on the Board of Directors for Grand Central Park’s sponsor OPRA. Follow @GrantStern on twitter. Read more on this topic on grantstern.com

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