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Family says their mother's apartment was taken. Now they're in court to get it back

A mural of two Black musicians playing music on a cement wall.
Joshua Ceballos
A mural in the Town Park Village cooperative apartment complex in Miami's historic Overtown.

Beverly Pierre-Louis, a 78-year-old mother of six, died in 2021. After she passed, her children discovered something they didn't know about their mom: she was a homeowner. She had two units in her name that the family said they weren't aware of because she struggled with mental illness in her later years.

"Before our momma passed away, she suffered from dementia. It’s not a pretty sight. I think she wasn’t aware of a lot of stuff she had," Louise Lyn, one of Pierre-Louis' daughters, told WLRN.

As soon as they found out, Pierre-Louis' kids moved to get the property in their names, but they hit a snag: a co-op board had taken possession of the units and wouldn't talk to the family. To make matters worse, the apartment complex where their mom had lived was put up for sale, and was at risk of redevelopment in a Miami neighborhood threatened by gentrification.

Pierre-Louis lived at Town Park Village — a low-income, cooperative apartment complex in Miami's Overtown neighborhood. Earlier this month, WLRN detailed the plight of Town Park Village and its residents.

Nine people pose for a photo
Courtesy Louise Lyn
The late Beverly Pierre-Louis surrounded by her family. Daughter Louise Lyn stands behind her, in an orange T-shirt.

Built in the 1970s, it was meant to be a haven of homeownership for Miami's Black community. As co-op members, residents hold shares for their units and co-own the property. Years of maintenance neglect and management struggles have left many of the apartments in serious disrepair, despite an $18 million taxpayer grant that was supposed to repair a significant portion of the 147 units, starting in 2021.

Until very recently, Town Park Village was listed for sale online for $38 million — something even some longtime shareholders told WLRN they didn't know about before it was publicly listed.

READ MORE: Overtown residents got a shot at homeownership 50 years ago. Now it's falling apart

Residents also feel at odds with the co-op board that runs the property, and its current president, Dana Milson. WLRN has reached out to Milson and her attorney, Alterraon Phillips, multiple times via phone call, email and text to comment for this story. They have not responded to multiple requests for an interview.

As recently as May 1 the entire property was listed on the real estate website Loopnet.com. It's unclear why, but the property listing was taken down from the website after WLRN began reporting on Town Park Village.

Board takes the units

Last December, the Town Park Village board took possession of Pierre-Louis' shares for the two units in her name — along with shares for 36 other units on the property.

In court filings for each unit acquisition, including for Pierre-Louis' apartments, the board gave the same justification: "...the Former Shareholder moved out of the Unit and/or abandoned the unit and is no longer a resident or shareholder of the Corporation."

According to the co-op's by-laws, when a member of the cooperative dies, a member of their immediate family may take over their membership if it was passed on by will or estate.

Pierre Louis died in 2021, but a family member was still living in one of her apartments. The family member contacted Lyn and her siblings to let them know about the properties.

The siblings paid $929.47 in taxes on one of the units in January because the court had not posted that the co-op board had taken ownership. In March, they got a Broward County court to appoint Tenecia Tripp, their cousin, as the legal representative of their mother's estate. They've since moved to either get ownership of or compensation for the units Pierre-Louis owned.

"Now we’re fighting for what’s our mother’s legacy. We would like to keep the property," Lyn said. "We can’t just let it go without a fight."

Lyn said the co-op board has been silent on the matter. She said that at a co-op meeting held via Zoom early this month, any time she or her siblings would speak up and ask about their mother's property, they were muted or removed from the meeting. The board and Milson's attorney have also not engaged with Lyn's lawyer, Patrick Jean-Gilles, who has been trying to speak with them about the matter for several weeks.

"I have not gotten any response or any emails back from their attorney [Alterraon Phillips]," Jean-Gilles told WLRN.

This case is emblematic of the broader complexity and friction at the center of the Town Park Village co-op, where residents like Tracy Black, who has lived there since she was seven years old, feel like they can't communicate with the people in charge of their home.

"Where's our voice? We have no voice around here," Black told WLRN.

Joshua Ceballos is WLRN's Local Government Accountability Reporter and a member of the investigations team. Reach Joshua Ceballos at jceballos@wlrnnews.org
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