Arson leaves Point Breeze neighborhood on edge

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Residents concerned following Point Breeze arson. Sarah Bloomquist reports during Action News at 5 p.m. on May 3, 2017. (WPVI)

Residents of Philadelphia's Point Breeze section are still on edge following an arsonist attack on several townhomes that were under construction.

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson went door to door Wednesday in the neighborhood where he grew up and still lives.

He gave residents information on where they can anonymously phone in tips as to who may have intentionally set this row of townhomes on fire.

"This should never be tolerated. I've gotten from calls from long-term residents, new residents, all concerned about what just took place here in our community," Johnson said.

"I was devastated because I was looking forward to it being built up so I could see how beautiful it was going to look," resident Dorsey Teagle said.

The ATF was also out again at 20th and Wharton.

Investigators seemed to be analyzing graffiti on a nearby building. Some of it read "Death to OCF," the developer of this project that some viewed as gentrification.

Zoning meetings got ugly and some neighbors fear they might be priced out of their homes.

"They're against it. We need other things on this block besides all these houses. There's no place to park cars," resident Deborah Minnis said.

"Hey, they're going to do what they're going to do anyway, so it doesn't matter," resident Jeanette Coleman said.

The fire broke out around 4:30 a.m. Monday. On Tuesay, the ATF ruled the blaze an arson.

Councilman Johnson, as it so happens, ran a contentious race against this very project's developer and has long opposed rapid gentrification, but says arson is never the solution.

"This should never happen regardless of what your opinion is, whether it's parking or a 4-story building or a 3-story with a roof deck on the top, you should never have someone vandalizing any type of property," Johnson said.

There is a $12,500 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
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