By Todd Quinones
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A private developer says he got fed up with dealing with the city and so he took matters into his own hands. Now the city has issued him a cease and desist order.
It was a forgettable, overgrown, vacant lot – one of hundreds in the city which do little beyond collect trash and evidence of troubled souls.
“You had tremendous amount of debris, used condoms, needles all trash from throughout the neighborhood,” developer Ori Feibush said.
Feibush is fighting City Hall.
He says he spent $20,000 of his own money to turn the lot into a garden complete with benches and a brand new sidewalk.
It’s connected to his coffee shop he built at 20th and Federal and across the street from land he plans to develop in Point Breeze.
“It’s not just for coffee shop people, it’s for the neighborhood. I’ve seen people sitting out here that have never set foot in the coffee shop. This is for the neighborhood,” neighbor Michael Parker said.
But the problem is the lot has been owned by the city since 1976, says Feibush.
“It looks nice, but if he don’t own it, he has to pay like anyone else,” neighbor Annette Randolph said.
The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority is threatening legal action saying the developer is trespassing and that all work on the property must be stopped.
For years Feibush argues he’s been trying to buy the lot from the city and offered documents to try and prove his case, but despite his attempts he says he has gotten stonewalled at every turn.
“The city certainly wasn’t using it for anything, and it’s not that we didn’t try and buy it from them. They prefer for it to be in blighted and terrible condition for years and years rather than have it turn into this,” Feibush says.
For its part, the city says it has no records indicating Feibush’s interest in buying the land before Tuesday.