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Occupy Miami's Overtown Safehouse Now Owned By Non-Profit, But Neighbor Complains Conditions are "Worse Than Ever"

Categories: News, Occupy Miami

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Miami is full of strange structures with odd stories, from foreclosed upon mansions to ancient burial grounds -- not to mention $2 billion baseball boondoggles.

No building boasts a bio as bizarre as 540 NW 7th Street, however. Once bought by a Colombian politician for $1.6 million, the Overtown apartment building was rechristened "Peace City" by the dozens of Occupy Miami protesters who moved in last year. But the supposed paradise soon became a den of drugs and violence. Several residents were arrested on terrorism charges. And the building was condemned in April of 2012, and its enigmatic owner was thrown in jail.

Now comes the latest twist in Occupy Miami's not-so-safehouse. The building has been officially signed over to a recently created non-profit organization called "Peace City Inc." But a neighbor says conditions have only gotten worse.

"People are urinating on the corner and people on drugs," says Terry Matias, who owns the apartment building nextdoor. "They look like zombies."

See also:
- Occupy Miami descends into drugs and chaos in an Overtown apartment building

No one from Peace City Inc. could be reached for comment. The non-profit's president and agent is listed online as Karel Soucre, but New Times could not find any other record of her. An email sent to Soucre bounced back.

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Courtesy of Chris Mazorra
Cops raided the safehouse last March
State records show that the non-profit was founded in December. Shortly thereafter, Rodrigo Duque -- the building's enigmatic, messianic owner -- signed the $1.6 million apartment complex over to Peace City Inc. for a nominal fee of $100.

Matias says that the title transfer has done nothing to prevent the building's decline. Originally condemned in April of 2012, things have gotten "worse, worse, worse," she says.

"The filth is unbelievable," she says. "You smell the stench of urine when you go to park your car. Two of my tenants have had their cars broken into. And you see people throwing garbage out the window. It's a disaster."

Matias claims that the building has filled up with "junkies and prostitutes," but her real anger is directed at the City of Miami.



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3 comments
kevin.young001
kevin.young001

Michael you are more than welcome to call me in regards to Peace City Inc and our plans for the building; as well as our comments on this story.
I work 50 hrs a week, but I'll be off tomorrow if you would like to call me.
Email me at kevin.young001@mymdc.net for the number.

We plan to demolish the building and in its place create a community education and health center, constructed out of shipping containers. Here is a link to the google doc I created explaining our position. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xvib6v1q7Rmk_5XkmNslQpoLjgtNKblJYlVB5BS83D8/edit?usp=sharing

 I find it troubling that though you and I have met before in person, and my name is clearly on the papers for Peace City Inc; you made no attempt to contact me or Karel. 

Perhaps you could ask the police why they refuse to respond to calls to the building. Why they refuse to arrest or remove individuals who are violent and/or clearly intoxicated. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that the police department is being sued for their illegal and unjustified raid last year; or perhaps they just don't care about anyone in that community until someone gets shot. 

While the building was never officially endorsed by the Occupy Miami General Assembly, there are only 2 or 3 people who are still there that were present when the eviction of the Occupy Miami Camp took place; and your original hit piece was published.  Your integrity as an objective journalist is clearly questionable at this point, but if you or your editor care to get the whole story, feel free to contact me.

TomJenkins
TomJenkins

It is so easy to locate Karel Soucre's contact information...this is really lazy reporting. Durrr - I sent an email to hotmail and it bounced back! What do I do now?

WhyNotNow
WhyNotNow topcommenter

This place is no longer part of Occupy Miami. This is a mental institution, cell block free-for-all. I live directly behind the building and have witnessed violent chaotic incidents here on a daily basis. Quite frankly, even the drug dealers in the neighborhood don't want this eyesore as it scares away their customers. The city has turned a blind eye to the problem and soon it is going to blow up in their face. They better douse the flame before the whole area goes down in conflagration. The people living their are no more than unsupervised mental patients. The Occupy Miami people want to further the goal of helping the 99%. This crowd should be called Chaos Miami. And the city just ignores the problem. Rome burns while Spence-jones et al fiddle.

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