To be clear, Feibush didn’t own the lot, which is what makes the PRA’s position not so crazy. What should piss people off about this is the fact that he’s been denied the opportunity to buy the lot so many times. Via Naked Philly:
With plans for a second OCF Coffee House location in the building next door to this horrifying, City-owned cesspool, owner Ori Feibush repeatedly approached the PRA (then RDA) over the course of a few years in an attempt to purchase the lots. Despite his requests in writing, over the phone, and by appearing in person, the PRA claims that Feibush only reached out for the first time in August. When, at that time, the PRA requested that he not clean up the parcel, stating that he would be trespassing and would present an insurance risk, Feibush went ahead with his plan “out of frustration.” Forty tons of debris and $20,000 later, the community has a new public garden space to call its own.
Whether it’s that PHA didn’t want to sell him the lot, or that his requests disappeared into a bureaucratic black hole, it’s all bad bad bad. I want to be hopeful that a land bank would prevent this particular kind of problem from happening, but I am not so sure.
Josh Vincent points out that Ori Feibush is not so popular with neighborhood activists in Point Breeze. The way the proposed land bank policy is designed, Kenyatta Jackson could use her Councilmanic privilege to simply block the land bank from selling the lot to Ori Feibush, at the request of neighborhood activists who don’t want to see the lot developed into a building. The land bank would do a better job of keeping requests to buy land from getting lost in the ether, but it wouldn’t necessarily do a better job of getting vacant land sold to people who want to develop it.