The Alpha Omicron Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and the Community Empowerment Association are in the midst of a battle over a building property in the Homewood neighborhood (see “CEA fights battle on two fronts” in the Dec. 2 issue).
Both organizations issued proposals to buy the building currently being leased by the CEA, an organization working to reduce crime and violence across the city. However, the Homewood Brushton Revitalization and Development Corp. that owns the property selected Alpha Phi Alpha to buy the building.
|ALPHA PHI ALPHA— Chase Patterson serves as spokesman for the Alpha Omicron Lambda Chapter’s Housing Committee.
Since that time, CEA founder Rashad Byrdsong has released statements questioning the fairness of the bidding process and the intentions of Alphas. Members of the Alphas have taken offense to Byrdsong’s comments which they feel have cast their organization in a negative light.
“I think that it’s unfair for Mr. Byrdsong to characterize my fraternity as an organization that would act underhandedly in order to acquire a piece of property,” said Alpha Phi Alpha spokesman K. Chase Patterson. “We are committed to serving this community and it is hurtful to have suggested that we are anything less.”
The Alphas have contacted Byrdsong about negotiating terms to allow the CEA to continue operating in the building after the sale. Patterson said Byrdsong has been hostile to their representatives and initially would not let them in to view the building.
“We have made every attempt very kindly to reach out to Rashad. We understand very clearly the services CEA provides,” Patterson said. “We believe they are successful and it would be against the mission of our organization and the best interests of the community if we did not to do everything we could to retain CEA in that space.”
Patterson said the bidding process has been transparent and well documented. He denied Byrdsong’s statements that the organization did anything “sly” or “underhanded” to acquire the property.
“We still have not had a sit down with Rashad,” Patterson said. “It’s more important to acknowledge that this is becoming a common occurrence in the African-American community that instead of having conversations among each other we communicate to the press or to third parties and it’s not the full story.”
Reasons for HBRDC’s selection are still unclear, as the organization has slipped into obscurity with members being hard to identify and other community groups in Homewood unable to provide any current information about the organization. Wilford Payne, executive director of Primary Care Health Services, who Patterson identified as a contact for HBRDC, did not return several calls.
The Alphas intends to use the building to provide resources to the community. This could include businesses, Internet access, a conference center and a banquet hall.
“We have looked at several buildings and what has happened is over the years, our vision for a home has transformed,” Patterson said. “Initially we were looking for a place where brothers could just socialize, but that vision has grown to a place where we could provide services to the community and that’s why this space fits. Plus it is in the heart of Homewood and we know Homewood needs more help then any other community in the city.”