When Point Breeze developer Ori Feibush took it upon himself to clean, renovate and build upon an abandoned lot adjacent from one of the area coffee shops he owns, the city of Philadelphia did not take it lightly.
They sent him a cease and desist order, stating that the lot was owned by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and that he was trespassing. He was instructed to remove all of the materials he had on the property or face legal action.
After months of public battles and correspondence, the two parties may have finally come to an agreement.
The lot is located at 1138 S. 20th Street, at 20th and Annin, between Ellsworth and Federal.
Feibush spent what looks like $20,000 to refurbish the lot: trash removal of 16 tons of trash $127.00; landscaping and supplies from local Philadelphia business Urban Jungle $5,010 and $6,010; costs for planting trees $600; replacing the sidewalk $4,335; and for putting up a fence $3,543.
He’s created a website, pleasefixphilly.com, where he’s catalogued his ordeal.
He also seemed to have discussed the plans, unofficially, with area City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.
In a letter to the PRA, Feibush questions the worth of the lot, estimated by the city at $50,000. Even though a lot nearby was recently sold for just $500.
The matter gained the attention of nation/international hacktivist groups who sent a message to the City, via video.
Now, the saga continues. And according to Philly.com Feibush is considering an option to lease the property from the PRA, taking on the liability and maintenance of what has become a valuable public space.
Though taking it upon oneself to build on property that isn’t his or hers is presumptuous at best, I hope the irony of this isn’t lost on anyone.