Greene Dreams Shoe Repair Deserved Better From Miami-Dade County

Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke laments the loss of African American-owned businesses on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Last Friday, Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami killed a Liberty City institution. Police and city workers tore down Greene Dreams Shoe Repair at 668 NW 62nd St., a business that had served the African American community for 50 years. Tyrone Greene and his family had survived through 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 like his father had done for him.

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. In an interview with WPLG 10, Greene wasn'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 said.

Despite having a valid and binding lease until May 2014 and winning a court order against Miami-Dade to honor the agreement, the county allowed the building to fall apart. The city deemed the property unsafe and cut off power and water. The unsafe structure status superseded the judge's order.

It's another travesty in a long string of broken promises to revitalize a neighborhood that serves as the entrance to Liberty City.

The property is located on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, near Interstate 95. It could have been turned into a vibrant retail and entertainment project. Miami-Dade County 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 always 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.

We deserve our own vibrant retail and entertainment destination. I would love to sit down with these elected officials to find out what their plan or vision is to restore African-American communities from Opa-Locka to Florida City.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.

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