MIAMI -- Environmentalists are scratching their heads over a recent deal between the University of Miami and a Palm Beach County developer that will bring a Wal-Mart store, restaurants and apartments to a section of rare forest in Miami-Dade County.
The Miami Herald reports that last month the university sold some 88 acres of rockland, which is habitat to plants animals and insects found nowhere else. The developer agreed to set aside a 40-acre preserve.
The developer, Ram, has built dozens of strip shopping centers and dense residential projects across Florida and the Southeast,
Ram said the land is located at Coral Reef Drive and Southwest 127th Avenue.
The development includes a Wal-Mart store, an LA Fitness Center, along with Chik-fil-A and Chili's restaurants and 900 apartments.
In a statement, the university says it is committed to preserving the forests.
Federal officials told the Herald they're closely watching the project, given the pending protection of the Bartram's hairstreak butterfly, which need a host plant, the pineland cotton.