Have you heard the one about the real estate developer and the vacant lot? Probably. It’s been all over local Philadelphia news and made some national headlines as well.
Ori Feibush of OCF Realty and owner of a coffee shop in the Point Breeze neighborhood took actions into this own hands by transforming an adjacent and long neglected lot—dubbed “Vietnam” by some neighbours—into a viable public space. The city subsequently cited Feibush for trespassing and demanded, to the chagrin of neighbours, that the lot be restored to its original state.
Philadelphia is infamous for its plethora of vacant lots. Many citizens, nonprofits and community groups can attest to the red tape involved buying, cleaning and greening the 40,000 vacant spaces currently in inventory. On a positive note, this process was recently simplified by putting the inventory in one place.
The dispute between Feibush and the city has seemingly taken a turn in favour of Feibush as the city has agreed to lease him the lot. Feibush will now assume full liability for the property until it is sold. Reportedly, he will make his own offer on the parcel in the hopes of permanently establishing a park.