Posted: Fri, Sep. 14, 2012, 3:01 AM
Was spruce-up of Point Breeze lot a trespass?
BY NATALIE POMPILIO
Philadelphia Daily News
For the Daily News
Biz owner in lot of trouble for cleanup
THE CITY-OWNED lot, neighbors say, was in deplorable shape, thick with weeds and trash. So when a business owner cleaned it up last month, spending more than $20,000 and removing, by his count, more than 40 tons of debris, Point Breeze residents went out of their way to pass 20th and Annin streets to see the changes.
"This was a lot of garbage," Elaine McGrath said as she took in the carefully tended plantings and wooden benches. "Now it's gorgeous. I'm excited."
But not everyone is happy with the alterations - namely, the lot's owner, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority.
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."
Ori Feibush, the real-estate developer who cleaned the lot and whose coffee shop backs onto the now-controversial plot, said the authority is making a big deal about this because it doesn't like him or the properties he's developed in the neighborhood.
"They don't like nice things," he said. "For a private developer to create a garden, it's a question of who gets credit. To do it without their blessing, you're basically insulting them."
In letters and emails, the authority has threatened to take legal action against Feibush. Chrystie said the agency "is actively reviewing its options at this time."
"They said we need to return it to the condition we found it in immediately,"