More than a year after plans were announced, Walmart still cannot fit an oversized Super Center store into Midtown Miami by design, hook or #$%$.
It's been 18 months since Miami New Times first reported mall owner DDR Corporation would sell out the South block of Midtown Miami Mall to the ravenous Betonville, Arkansas-based retailer. Two complete sets of plans have been delivered to the City of Miami, but neither follows local design standards. I suppose deeming the Walmart plan for Midtown a failure for having supplied two complete sets of non-compliant plans would be a private sector idea.
The next public hearing on Walmart's mayorally-backed redesign of Midtown will be this Wednesday February 20th, at 2 p.m. at Miami City Hall, in front of the Urban Design and Planning Review Board.
Walmart withheld plans from the public record -- at the advice of high-priced counsel -- while requesting to scrap a neighborhood Master Plan built around pedestrians. The company's plans are so odious, they've convinced the city of Miami twice to hold public hearings without giving promised notice to stakeholders in the community.
The heart of efforts to prevent Walmart's arrival in Midtown center on one simple premise: a Super Center and 600 parking spaces cannot fit into Midtown as designed. At what point should our public servants stop spending taxpayers' money on city staffers' time reviewing a plan ignorant of local regulations, and insistent upon requesting repeatedly rejected changes which are out of character with the area?
Miami 21, the city's newly implemented zoning code, is written entirely in English, and contains local regulations with architecturally drawn design standards, none of which seem relevant to Walmart's architect, Gensler. The latest plans contain two egregious flaws, either of which merits outright rejection of the current application that has been requested for six months now.
The first fatal flaw is the Midtown zoning requirement 627.2.12 (item 3, page C.25), which encourages developers to line second story parking structures with active uses such as office space. This is because the Master Plan seeks to eliminate canyon-like streets surrounded with soulless multi-story parking structures.
Without padding by active use space, garages must be placed 85' back from the lot line of Miami Avenue and Midtown Boulevard, according to local regulations designating them Primary Streets. But Walmart wants to place 600 parking spaces without any active second floor use.