OCF Realty rejects request for neighborhood organization’s community benefits agreement

“My organization decided after looking at the community benefits agreement that was proposed by SOSNA that it would be detrimental to the project to execute any community benefits agreement,” Feibush, founder and president of OCF Realty, said at the meeting. “I made the decision not to pursue a community benefits agreement.”

Ori Feibush, founder and president of OCF Realty, revealed to attendees at last Monday night’s South of South Neighborhood Association zoning meeting he made the decision not to pursue a community benefits agreement for his company’s development plans at 2101 Washington Ave. parcels A and B (the former site of the Frankford Chocolate Factory), and 2201 Washington Ave.

“My organization decided after looking at the community benefits agreement that was proposed by SOSNA that it would be detrimental to the project to execute any community benefits agreement,” Feibush said at the meeting. “I made the decision not to pursue a community benefits agreement.”

According to SOSNA, the community organization presented a CBA to OCF Realty on Aug. 29 for the 2101 Washington Ave. and 2201 Washington Ave. sites. SOSNA used community input from three prior community meetings about the development of 2101 Washington Ave. in drafting the CBA. SOSNA also sought input from community development organizations and neighboring RCOs, elected officials, and community-based organizations, according to a press release. The goal of the initial draft, SOSNA said, was to start productive dialogue and provide a means from which common ground can be found. OCF Realty rejected the proposed CBA on Sept. 5 and has indicated it will not enter into a CBA relating to either 2101 Washington Ave. or 2201 Washington Ave.

The major components of the CBA, according to SOSNA, are the following:

  • Affordable Housing: 20 percent units (excluding townhomes at 2101 Washington Ave. — Parcel A and 2201 Washington Ave.) available at no more than 70 percent Area Median Income (“AMI”) for 19146 ZIP Code.
  • Minority Business Inclusion: Designate 35 percent preference of all project contractors to be given to Minority, Women, Disabled Owned Businesses (M/W/DSBE), 20 percent of all commercial tenants for 2101 and 2201 Washington Ave. to be leased or owned by M/W/DBSEs.
  • Employment Opportunities: Larger commercial tenants commit to hire 30 percent local workers who reside in ZIP Codes 19145, 19146, 19147, and/or 19148.
  • Parking: Underground parking with a minimum parking ratio of 0.6 per unit with at least 20 percent of underground parking spaces available for overnight parking for the community at 2101 Washington Ave. — Parcel B (Parcel B is the southern side of the block. Parcel A is the northern side).
  • Open & Green Space: Plant street trees on surrounding sidewalks for all parcels including Washington Avenue, designate at least 20 percent of total space as open, ensure that green space that is open to the public (2101 Washington Ave. only), and comply with City of Philadelphia’s Civic Design Review Sustainability benchmarks, including reduced parking footprint, pervious site surfaces, rainwater management, and heat island reduction.
  • Safety & Livability Accommodations: Provide at least a 5-foot walking zone on surrounding sidewalks for all parcels, private trash removal for townhomes on Kimball, and bike racks on sidewalks on near commercial. Support efforts to arrange and install protected bike lanes on Washington Avenue and 22nd. Provide ADA infrastructure on the property, including curb cuts, installation of wheelchair accessible ramps and entrances, and install trash and recycling receptacles on corners of commercial areas.
  • Amenities: Use building materials that are highly durable and installed in a professional manner and ensure windows and commercial spaces are unobstructed for retail or commercial space.
  • Commercial tenants: Create vibrant and visible commercial spaces with tenants eligible under IRMX, including daycare/childcare, medical professionals, fresh food market, eating and drinking, recreation, office space, light industrial.

Of those components, the first three regarding affordable housing, minority business inclusion and employment opportunities were the components residents at the meeting voiced concerns about the most. People from Feibush’s development team, including architect Jose Hernandez, were insistent they had hit on most of the components of the CBA anyway, but residents said they were missing the most important parts — the parts that were geared toward maintaining the diversity of the neighborhood.

“I wish you were less concerned about people fighting you in court and think about the community that’s here that you’re supposed to be serving,” said one neighbor at the meeting. “The №1 thing on [in the CBA] is affordable housing. So thank you for the sidewalks and thank you for the trees and thank you for the recessed steps, but we want affordable housing. We want socioeconomic and racially diverse neighborhoods. That’s why we all moved here.”

Another neighbor echoed the same comments: “That’s very cold for you to continue to want to come into a community that was once all minority and working-class and lower working-class and continue to push this through,” she said. “You should come to the table with some sense of humility about yourself and sit down and say, ‘OK, I want minority businesses and disabled-owned businesses a part of this. I want [inclusionary measures to be] a part of this. Why should anybody sit here and continue to support you if you don’t want to give back anything?”

Still Feibush did not give in.

“At the end of the process, the №1 issue that appears to be substantive between neighbors South of [South] and our team and neighbors in this community is the affordable housing component,” he said. “We’re not proposing any affordable housing. We’re not suggesting that there’s an opportunity for more units. I don’t want to be disingenuous. But ultimately if this project in your mind and other minds is not a good project without affordable housing, and we lose, I understand that.”

Parcel A of 2101 Washington will consist of two rows of 22 townhomes. There will be driveways for and between each townhome. On parcel B of 2101 Washington, just south of the rows of townhomes, will be an 87,000 square-foot parcel to be dedicated for a grocery store and two separate for-rent apartment living units, which will hold a total of 180 dwelling units. Underground parking, which will be able to accommodate up to 120 cars, will be below the grocery store and apartments. There will be an entry to the parking garage on 22nd Street and an exit on 21st Street.

In plans for the project is a pedestrian walkway dubbed “League Walk” between the grocery store/apartments and the townhomes. The project also features various green spaces open to the public.

“While SOSNA is disappointed in OCF Realty’s stated refusal to enter into a CBA, SOSNA hopes that OCF will reconsider its position and has drafted a separate agreement for 2201 Washington that reflects community input from a meeting on October 1, 2018 specifically about 2201 Washington Avenue,” a statement from SOSNA reads.

2201 Washington will consist of 90 dwelling units and 13,000 square-feet of commercial space.

The next meeting for the 2201 Washington site will be held on Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Shiloh Baptist Church at 2040 Christian St., where a community vote will be held. Residents will have the opportunity to voice their concerns.