Last Friday, Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami killed a Liberty City institution. Located at NW Seventh Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard, Greene Dreams Shoe Repair had served the African-American community for 50 years. Tyrone Greene and his family had survived three major riots and decades of bleak economic conditions. But he couldn't stop the county and the city from wrecking his dream of passing on his shop to his children, just as his father had done.
It was a bitter end to Greene's three-year battle to stay open. Miami-Dade County, which owns the building where his shop was located, plans to build a glorified bus depot with retail shops and an apartment complex. Greene isn't sure what to do next. "I'm believing that God, in some kind of way, God going to work this out for this injustice that I just had done to me," he told WPLG-TV (Channel 10).
He had a lease that should have been valid until May 2014. He even won a court order to force Miami-Dade to honor that agreement. But the county allowed the building to fall apart. Then the city deemed the property unsafe and cut off power and water.
Now there is nothing stopping the county and Carlisle Development Group, an affordable-housing developer that is a big donor for County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson's reelection, from moving ahead. Edmonson is the bus depot's biggest champion. This is the latest in a long string of broken promises to revitalize the entrance to Liberty City.
The property is located just off Interstate 95. It could have been turned into a vibrant retail and entertainment project. Edmonson should have promised something similar to Lincoln Road Mall in Miami Beach or Cocowalk in Coconut Grove. The African-American community needs a place where we can go have fun. I always envisioned that area as a spot where nightclubs and jazz clubs would thrive next to soul-food restaurants and small businesses like Greene's.
Instead, the county is propping up developers who want to build transit-related projects and cheap apartments. Putting a bus station there is the same as building I-95 through the heart of Overtown. It will do nothing to revitalize Liberty City.