PRIDE OF THE COMMUNITYPosted: September 21, 2012
Last Friday, the Daily News reported on Ori Feibush, the real estate developer who took it upon himself to beautify a disgusting vacant lot in Point Breeze – all on his own dime.
Not surprisingly, local residents were thrilled, thankful, and all sorts of other positive things. Now the space at 20th & Annin streets has attractive plantings and benches for community use. It’s stuff like this that makes the city liveable and the community stronger. While I spent most of my time in the city in the Italian Market, there was that one summer where I crashed on a buddy’s couch in Mantua, which is exactly the sort of neighborhood that could use a simple improvement like this.
Unfortunately for Feibush – and the rest of the city – this has become a big story for all of the wrong reasons. The city isn’t thrilled. From the article linked above:
Paul D. Chrystie, director of communications at the Office of Housing and Community Development, said it’s a simple matter of trespassing. In an email, he said: “Like any property owner, [the authority] does not permit unauthorized access to or alteration of its property. This is both on principle (no property owner knowingly allows trespassing) and to limit taxpayer liability.”
While Chrystie may have a point, it’s not like Feibush’s actions were random. He was planning to a open a coffee shop next to the lot, and had contacted the city many times about owning or leasing the space. This was a move out of frustration, one that he felt he needed to do as a developer and business owner – and he should be applauded.
While I’m just scratching the surface of this story because I like the positive effects it has on neighborhoods, there is much more going on here, and not just the obvious issues like gentrification and pissing off the Office of Housing. If you want to dig deeper, I highly recommend these pieces from Philadelinquency and Philebrity. It will be interesting to see how this develops.