Walmart looked like it won the fight to build a controversial store in Midtown Miami when a state judge denied an appeal from the neighborhood opposition in January. But recent reports have surfaced claiming Walmart’s construction permit has been revoked, despite what appears to be ongoing work at the development site. In December, Walmart was given a construction permit to begin foundation work at 3055 North Miami Avenue, a 4.6-acre plot of vacant land on the southern border of Midtown that’s been used to house tents for Art Miami in previous years.
As first reported by the Next Miami, and confirmed by the The Real Deal‘s review of the permit’s status, city records show it to be “revoked.”
Maurice Pons, deputy director of the city building department, said in a statement to TRD that Walmart’s permit had been issued more than 180 days ago and had expired. City ordinance dictates phased permits, like the one issued to Walmart, will be valid for six months and are not eligible for extensions. City records show Walmart’s foundation permit expired Monday. However, video posted to Facebook on Thursday by neighborhood activist Grant Stern, who’s headed opposition against the Midtown Walmart store and operates NoWalmartinMidtown.com, shows construction workers at the site appearing to move earth with heavy machinery and smooth concrete.
“Construction of Walmart’s Midtown Miami store began in December 2015 upon receipt of a six month foundation permit from the City of Miami,” Walmart said in a statement. “Now that foundation work has been completed, we have submitted an application for vertical construction, which is the standard course of action for any project of this nature.” There’s also one other sticking point: as outlined by correspondence from city attorney Victoria Mendez obtained by TRD, Walmart’s construction permit for the property was in a “locked status” until a unity of title — or a covenant in lieu of that unity — between Walmart, the Midtown Community Development District and Midtown Opportunities IXB, a company that controls the parcels directly abutting Walmart’s development site, is signed.
Walmart’s plans first drew attention in 2013 when it received approvals from the city to build a 203,000-square-foot supercenter on the Midtown site. That drew the ire of its neighbors, who felt the Walmart wouldn’t fit in with Midtown’s style and would also bring in unwanted traffic. Despite defeat in a court of appeal, those in opposition — led by Stern — said they would continue fighting the development.
“The city has bent over backwards to give them anything they want,” Stern said. “We set out to enforce our zoning law strictly in one place. We just want strict enforcement.”