Midtown Wal-Mart appeal depends on zoning interpretation

Miami /
Sep.September 05, 2014 12:00 PM

The fate of Wal-Mart’s Midtown Miami superstore could come down to one word: total.

A three-judge panel in Miami-Dade Circuit Court’s appellate division ordered attorneys for Wal-Mart and project opponents to submit briefs within one week focusing on how the city’s zoning code defines “total” during Thursday’s hearing in a lawsuit challenging the development. The reason: the proposed 203,000-square-foot Midtown Miami store has five off-street loading berths. Under the zoning code, stores of up to 250,000 square feet must have “three berths total.”

When Miami commissioners unanimously approved a special permit for the Midtown Wal-Mart in November 2013, it appeared the store was a done deal. But in April, 11 Miami residents and businesses filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the permit.

During Thursday’s hearing, Mark Emanuele, a Lydecker Diaz attorney representing Wal-Mart, argued the code implies three births is a minimum requirement. Coral Gables attorney Paul Savage countered on behalf of the plaintiffs that the word total should be interpreted literally.

Wal-Mart has been fighting to open a superstore on a 4.6-acre parcel within Midtown Miami at 3055 North Miami Avenue since 2012. In January, Wal-Mart acquired the property from DDR Corp. for $8.2 million.

Project supporters claim the store will offer affordable shopping opportunities for area residents and create 300 jobs. Wal-Mart opponents fear the corporation’s aggressively competitive policy would kill small businesses in Greater Downtown Miami. They also believe the store doesn’t comply with Midtown’s stringent zoning regulations.

Jacob Pfeffer, owner of a perfume store at downtown’s Bayside Marketplace and one of the plaintiffs in the suit, is confident the judges will reject arguments made by Wal-Mart and Miami’s city attorneys.

“We knew that once politics was removed from the process the code would prevail,” Pfeffer said, “and that’s why we felt positive going into today.”

Another opponent, mortgage broker and radio host Grant Stern, claims Wal-Mart and the city are “reinterpreting” the established zoning code.

“We are here to interpret [the code] as it was written,” Stern said.

Former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, a senior partner at Lydecker Diaz, insists the proposed Wal-Mart store satisfies the city’s design standards.

“Our arguments are pretty clear,” Diaz said. “These are minimum requirements as applied by the law.”


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
3601 North Miami Avenue with Francisco Arocha

Midtown Miami development site in foreclosure hits the market

Midtown Miami development site in foreclosure hits the market
Ram Realty CEO Casey Cummings and 15601 Southwest 127th Avenue, Miami (Credit: Google Maps)

University of Miami sells land for Walmart-anchored project

University of Miami sells land for Walmart-anchored project
Yard 8 and Wood Partners CEO Joseph Keough (Courtesy of ACRE)

Wood Partners lands $86M refi for Midtown Miami apartments

Wood Partners lands $86M refi for Midtown Miami apartments
Renderings of Midtown Miami (Credit: AMLI)

AMLI launches leasing of massive Midtown Miami project during pandemic

AMLI launches leasing of massive Midtown Miami project during pandemic
Mauricio Zapata, Lyle Chariff, and Luis Guevara, with a rendering of NeueHouse Miami

Co-working operator NeueHouse expands to Miami

Co-working operator NeueHouse expands to Miami
The Estefan warehouse next to Set Midtown’s office project before its billboard went up.

Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s Miami warehouse project ignites billboard battle

Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s Miami warehouse project ignites billboard battle
Brian Gordon and Gio Midtown

Magellan launches leasing of Midtown Miami apartment tower

Magellan launches leasing of Midtown Miami apartment tower
From left: Ben Bruner and David Emihovich of Katz & Associates with the Sam's Club at 7233 North Seacrest Boulevard (Credit: Google Maps)

Walmart sells former Sam’s Club in Lake Worth

Walmart sells former Sam’s Club in Lake Worth
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...