Ori Feibush, the developer who owns OCF Realty, has had a contentious relationship with some of his neighbors in Point Breeze, where he’s been aiming much of his development energies. It’s the oldest story in the book: new developer vs. long-time residents–only in this case not all long-time residents are against Feibush’s efforts and some of his newest and fiercest opponents are just as new to the neighborhood as he is.
With the emergence of the group called Point Breeze Organizing Committee (PBOC), what seemed like a typical beautification vs. gentrification debate (Feibush saying he was doing the former; long-timers saying it was the latter) has gotten kind of muddled. In comparison, an early community meeting in which the developer was called a “white devil” seems almost quaint.
Saturday PBOC will have a march that had its roots in protesting Feibush and OCF. Its aims now, however, as stated in a video about it, are civil rights, affordable housing, good schools, freedom, better politicians, unity and several other ideals that no one would disagree with because they are all noble and desirable.
Now controversy related to OCF comes again in advance of the march because, as City Paper’s Ryan Briggs reports, one of PBOC’s organizers, Gary Broderick, has been revealed to live in an OCF home owned by his girlfriend (also an organizer). Broderick clearly wishes this information had not gotten out, and one can imagine why — it’s the kind of thing that would make their commitment to the movement seem a little suspect. He attempts to account for the seeming inconsistency–as well as explain PBOC’s purpose–in the comments section of citypaper.net, and he fails in spectacular fashion. (Broderick is supposedly speaking at Saturday’s event, but he might want to give more soapbox time to those in PBOC who can articulate his group’s mission more eloquently.)
At any rate, below is Broderick’s response to the issue of living in an OCF-built home, with some “gotchas” that are head-scratchingly not gotchas at all.
Allow me to set the record straight on a few things. First of all, workers built this house that I live in. I doubt OCF gives them benefits so lets at the very least give them credit for the labor.
Second, who cares? I didn’t even know who Ori Feibush was when I moved into the neighborhood. We have consistently said that we don’t take issue with new people moving in, that the problem is structural, and involves the type of policies that OCF pushes for, such as railing against Councilman Goode’s proposed repeal of the ten year tax abatement.
Or let me offer another way to see it. I’m a hotel worker and involved with my Union. Sometimes when we protest to defend our health care and pension, we are protesting the very same company that dun dun dun duuuuuun…we work for. (Gotcha.)
Then just on the specific facts: Mindy was saying she doesn’t live at that address which she doesn’t. I said I do live there because I do. We were able to afford the down payment cause of money my girlfriend was left when her grandmother died. (Gotcha).
What Mr. Feibush won’t tell you is that he posted my address after the previous night he had pulled up outside my house, saying “hey Gary…hey Buddy,” then pulled up the block and saw Mindy who was walking to my house (which is why he assumed she lived there – why else would he have?) and started waving at her and honking at her, all designed to intimidate.
So Feibush and OCF do have some particular ugly practices, but the bigger issue is we live in a city with a FIRE economy; when there was manufacturing, Unions built power for working people as a check on the power of those companies. We need now to build power for working-class people as a check on companies like OCF if we hope to have a vibrant city.
For Feibush’s response, and more on this story: