Homeless camp cleared at former Winn-Dixie

Caution tape and a shopping cart from a homeless camp are what remain at the former Winn-Dixie building on State Road 70.

A squirrel and scrap plastic from a homeless camp in Arcadia were the only things remaining after owners of the former Winn-Dixie cleared men from the grounds on Wednesday. The building on State Road 70 at SE Airport Road had become a buzzing community of mostly homeless men, most camped on mattresses under an open-air portico that faced SR-70, a busy road sometimes bypassed by drivers cruising through the Winn-Dixie parking lot, waving at those in the camp. Bicycles, shopping carts, plastic bins—anything someone could collect—were stored under the portico. Police were frequent visitors, called for noise or for fighting.

But what was home for a few became an eyesore for others: The Diocese of Venice, owners of the closed storefront that is undergoing renovation, were notified of the homeless camp and those living there were removed on Wednesday, the place hosed and cleaned of remaining debris. Arcadia officials informed church leadership that the property had become crowded and possibly a hazard, or “a situation (they) needed to be aware of,” city Administrator Terry Stewart said. Church officials handled the clean-up. A spokeswoman for the diocese couldn't be reached on Thursday. There was no word where those at the encampment had gone.

The Diocese of Venice is renovating the large building and moving its faith services there at completion.

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