Midtown

Walmart wins challenge over Midtown Miami store

Big store: An architectural rendering of the 203,000-square-foot, three-story superstore that Walmart wants to build in Midtown Miami.
Big store: An architectural rendering of the 203,000-square-foot, three-story superstore that Walmart wants to build in Midtown Miami.

A proposed Walmart superstore in Midtown, delayed for more than a year by legal challenges, looks like it’s a go after the company won an appeal this week in Miami-Dade circuit court.

In a ruling filed Aug. 24 and received days later by the parties involved, a panel of the court’s appellate division sided with the city of Miami and Walmart Stores East, which had been sued — again — by several Miami residents hoping to stop the development of a city-approved 203,000-square-foot, three-story superstore.

In a statement, Walmart spokesman William Wertz said the company is looking forward to opening in Midtown. The project is bounded by Northeast 29th and 31st streets, and North Miami Avenue and Midtown Boulevard, at Midtown Miami’s south end. That site is a vacant field that sits next to a mural of LeBron James that was defaced.

“This decision brings Walmart one step closer to providing hundreds of new jobs and affordable grocery options to residents in nearby Wynwood, Overtown, Allapattah and Downtown Miami,” Wertz said.

Residents first sued the city in late 2013, after the city approved the proposed store. Miami was ordered by the court last year to reconsider the project after it improperly granted Walmart a variance for five loading berths, when only three berths were allowed. The plaintiffs challenging the project had argued that because Walmart’s project required variances, the city should have forced the company to seek a special permit that required multiple public hearings.

The ruling last year, they argued, meant Walmart had to start from scratch.

But the city responded by simply rehearing an appeal of Walmart’s permit, and allowed Walmart to change its plans on the fly by cutting two berths and turning them into staging areas. So the plaintiffs — who said the changes to the plans were merely cosmetic — sued again.

Following an Aug. 20 hearing, the judicial panel sided with Walmart, and dismissed the case without comment. The plaintiffs can file for a rehearing, or seek an appeal, but their attorney, Paul Savage, said Saturday that he didn’t know whether they’d pursue those options. Walmart was represented by attorney Richard Lydecker.

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