Occupy Miami's Overtown Safehouse Now Owned By Non-Profit, But Neighbor Complains Conditions are "Worse Than Ever"
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."
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.
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.
Courtesy of Chris Mazorra Cops raided the safehouse last March
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.