Arson Suspected In Overtown, Activist Blames Gentrification And Worldcenter

An excavator that was demolishing an Overtown building was set on fire over the weekend, and police suspect arson.

The 22,500 square foot property at 1160 NW Second Avenue is owned by a company tied to Michael Simkins. He paid $330,000 for it late last year, according to property records.

Simkins told the Miami New Times that the fire may have been started by one of the squatters who were living in the building, or by teenagers. The 24-unit building did not have water or electricity and was a hazard, Simkins said.

Neighborhood activist Edduard Prince blamed the developer for ousting those living in the building. He said that locals are also frustrated over a recent CRA deal to provide $88 million in incentives for the Miami Worldcenter project.

Prince has also attacked Simkins on his blog over another Overtown property:

As soon as Simkins bought this building at 219 NW 10 ST he put everyone out violating Florida Statute 83.67. The only person that was bold enough to stay was Rosa. “I had paid my rent so I didn’t leave, he cut my electricity off. I was so afraid that when he (Micheal Simkins) offered me $1000 I just took it and left” said Rosa. After putting out the Blacks he moves in the Latins