Ori Feibush Is an Evil Monster

Or at least that's what a lot of people seem to believe.

Man, oh man. A lot of people really hate developer Ori Feibush, don’t they? It seems that not a week goes by without some story coming out that portrays the 29-year-old gentrifier as a wealthy evildoer. Based on the way that some people talk about him, you can almost imagine him as the villainous pre-conversion Gru in Despicable Me, like he’s going to invent some death ray to disintegrate all of the old people in South Philly whose homes he wants. Wealthy he is. But an evildoer? I don’t think so.

Feibush was pretty much off my radar until those peerless scribes at the blog Philebrity nominated him for their annual award for excommunication, wherein readers choose which Philadelphian they would most like to see exiled from Philadelphia. (I was nominated as well.) I’ve never quite understood the vitriol out there against him, but it’s there to be sure.

Earlier this week, I was in South Street dive bar Bob & Barbara’s, which is on the same block as the old Royal Theater, which music mogul-turned-real estate mogul Kenny Gamble owns and was supposed to have restored but has not and which Feibush wants to turn into condominiums. A young African American man who has lived in the neighborhood for many years launched into a tirade against Feibush and the way that he does business. In the end, the man called Feibush a “Jew boy.” Not under his breath. Loudly, in public, at the bar. Jeez.

And just yesterday, the Daily News ran a big story about “threatening” letters that opponents of Feibush had received. In the caption for the photo of Feibush, the writer says that “Ori Feibush is now being accused by a Spring Garden resident of using an intimidating letter to browbeat him into silence.” Browbeat him into silence! Such drama.

Before I actually read the story, I thought that, perhaps, Feibush had some thuggish friend of his send anonymous letters out to his opponents, threatening to turn their dogs into stew or something. But no. What actually happened was that Feibush attorney Vern Anastasio, formerly a candidate for City Council, sent letters to Feibush’s opponents putting them on notice that they may be taken to court.

Here’s what one letter said:

In light of your client’s persistence in attempting to recklessly interfere with my client’s business, I suggest that you advise your client to withdraw this baseless appeal. I respectfully advise you to put your carrier on notice, as I will advise my client to sue you personally, as well as your client.

Wow, that’s some browbeating.

I just don’t get what all the fuss is about. Is there some sinister thing about Feibush that I am missing here? I’ve never met the man. And believe me, if you’ve got some dirt on him that shows that he’s got a cellar full of Mexican immigrant sex slaves locked up somewhere in South Philadelphia, I’ll be the first to publish it. But in the meantime, everybody relax. He’s just a guy trying to make a buck.