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Councilman Kenyatta Johnson Stopped a Sale of Two Vacant Lots to Ori Feibush: Was It A Politically Motivated Move?

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Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who represents the Second District, used Councilmanic Prerogative to halt the sale of two narrow lots on South Cleveland Street to Ori Feibush, Point Breeze's champion of market rate development. Feibush says that this was clearly a politically motivated move, as he plans to run for Johnson's City Council seat next year. Councilman Johnson says that he simply wanted to reserve the lots for affordable housing, as part of the 1,500 Units of Affordable Housing initiative announced last month.

A quick look at the map of city owned properties for sale reveals that the city owns five other lots on the same block, and that it's very close to an elementary school, perhaps making it an ideal location for affordable housing. On the other hand, those two particular lots are unlikely to support a very large number of affordable housing units, especially since most of the other homes on the block are small rowhomes. That they would be singled out for affordable development seems odd, given that the entirety of Point Breeze is an opportunity zone for City Council's new initiative.

At this point the issue is a he said, he said spectacle: Feibush claims that he had discussed the properties with Councilman Johnson, and that staffers from Johnson's office had attended a community meeting where information about the project involving those two lots was presented. Johnson says that he hadn't talked to Feibush about his plans for the lots.

· A political scuffle over vacant Point Breeze lots [Philly.com]