Reporting Peter D’Oench
MIAMI(CBSMiami ) – The owner of a landmark shoe repair business watched in dismay as his store was demolished after a bruising battle with the city.
“This is an injustice,” said Tyrone Greene, the owner of Greene Dreams Shoe Repair at 668 N.W. 62nd St.
He told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “This a criminal act what they are doing. I’ve been paying my rent on time. I have a lease to May of 2014. Then they cut my lights and cut my water. And now they wrecked my store.”
“How would you feel if you came to work on Friday and found out they were wrecking your business?” he said.
Greene had prided himself on telling his customers, “We save your soles.” But he could not save his store from demolition as crews began their work in darkness Friday morning.
Greene, 51, who started working at his parents’ store when he was just 10 years old, had hoped this day would never come. On November 29th of last year, the city’s Unsafe Structures Board ruled the building was an unsafe structure.
And even though a Judge twice ruled in his favor, that ruling was superceded by the decision from the Unsafe Structures Board.
“It’s unsafe and we are concerned for the safety of the owner and the people coming into the building,” said Karla Damian, a spokeswoman for Miami-Dade Transit.
The county owns the property and plans to build a 140-unit apartment building, a theater, stores and a bus depot on the site.
Damian told D’Oench that the county had offered to move Greene to another location nearby and then eventually allow him to return to the site, where his rent would remain the same for the next five years.
“We have offered him other options to relocate temporarily,” Damian said. “Right now those options are open to him and we hope he will take them. He has the option once the project is completed to move back to the new location to a safe structure. We have done everything we can to accommodate Mr. Greene.”
But Greene has not accepted the county’s offer.
As his six children, who are between the ages of 19 and 24, protested with signs, Greene said, “What am I going to do? I have been on this street corner for more than 50 years, five decades. That’s how long this has been a landmark in the community. My father and mother started this business. Then I took over.”
“My wife and I have six children. Five of them are in college right now. I depend on this business. I won two battles in court but the Unsafe Structures Board said no to me.’
“Customers come here from Broward to West Palm Beach to out of town and Atlanta. My business is a landmark. And it is safe. And that is God’s word. Because the bible says don’t even remove old landmarks. They are doing what’s wrong. They are doing what’s wrong. They are doing what’s wrong.”
“I will say as Al Sharpton said: injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Now I don’t have a clue what I will do. But my eyes are still on the Lord and they are going to have to pay for what they are doing. I haven’t seen anything like this in my life. I didn’t think people would do this.”
Greene’s family also expressed their concern.
“They threw our things in boxes and garbage cans and hauled it away,” said Greene’s wife Paulette. “They took our lives away from us.”
“I feel like this is a total injustice and it’s very unfortunate to my parents and my community,” said Tytianna Greene, who is one of Tyrone’s daughters.
The county said it was paying for the items inside Greene’s store to be taken to a warehouse for safekeeping.