Philly officials, lot developer working agreement

A vacant lot owned by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority is shown, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, in Philadelphia. Ori Feibush, a real estate developer, has turned a trash-strewn city-owned lot, vacant for roughly 30 years, into a welcoming spot for customers of his month-old corner cafe. But city officials say Feibush shouldn't have done work on a lot he doesn't own or rent, shouldn't be using taxpayer-owned property to benefit his business. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

September 26, 2012 2:11:32 PM PDT
A testy battle over a vacant lot in Philadelphia may be coming to an end.

The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and real estate developer Ori Feibush are working on a license agreement over the city-owned parcel next to Feibush's new coffee shop, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter said Wednesday.

Under the proposed agreement, Feibush's OCF Realty would be permitted to use the space and be required to take responsibility for its care and safety until it is sold, mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said.

"Both sides are working toward that goal" but no official agreement has been signed and specific details would not be available until that time, McDonald said.

Feibush confirmed that an agreement is being hammered out that "moves all liability from the (Redevelopment Authority) to my office in the interim, and I assume they're going to continue to pursue the efforts to sell the property."

He previously has said the city rebuffed his repeated requests to buy the 20-by-100-foot lot in Point Breeze, a row house neighborhood southwest of downtown Philadelphia where he has lived since 2006. So, he said, he spent at least $20,000 to remove 40 tons of trash and to add planters, tables and landscaping to it.

City officials were irked, however, saying Feibush shouldn't have done work on land he doesn't own or rent, shouldn't be using public property to benefit his business and should have played by the rules.

The Redevelopment Authority also said it had no record of Feibush expressing interest in the property until shortly before he began to clear it. Feibush said he had contacted the city multiple times during the past few years but got no response.

Redevelopment Authority chief Ed Covington said last week that besides Feibush, three others have expressed interest in buying the lot, which is worth more than $50,000. A bidding process will begin for interested buyers "in the coming weeks" and in the meantime, the city would allow the lot to remain as is, Covington said.

Feibush said OCF Realty will aim to be the highest bidder. He also urged the Redevelopment Authority to open bidding for the other city-owned vacant parcels in the neighborhood.

"There are still hundreds of lots ... that are maintained in the condition that this lot was formerly," he said. "It would do a lot of good for the community in general."

A spokesman for the authority was not available for comment Wednesday. His office said no one else was authorized to discuss the matter.


Load Comments