Prior to the June Urban Redevelopment Authority board meetings, Homewood Brushton Revitalization and Development Corp. Secretary Sarah Campbell told the Authority the organization wanted to sell one of its properties to the current tenant, the Community Empowerment Association, not Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
But that statement appears to have been premature. K. Chase Patterson, legislative aide to U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, speaking for the fraternity, said they have a signed agreement to purchase the building.
|CALLING FOUL—CEA Director Rashad Byrdsong claims he is being cheated.
“We have a signed agreement from an authorized member of the HBRDC to purchase (the former Rite Aid) building for $151,000,” he said. “We have a great deal of respect for Ms. Campbell and for her work in the community, so in no way are we casting aspersions on her. We’re just somewhat frustrated with what she said June 9. But I can confirm that Alpha Phi Alpha was selected by HBRDC. We have paperwork to that effect.”
Patterson, who attended the June 9 meeting but left without comment, said Campbell’s characterization of the fraternity as having no plan and no money, was not accurate.
“We have a very detailed business plan that includes national programs, among them mentoring for young African-American women and men and college preparation. We also plan to include workforce development,” he said. “We’ve got a fair amount of money, so I’m a little disheartened. We’ve got money and a plan and a strong group of men who will support our initiative.”
Chuck Powell, director of Diversity Affairs and Community Outreach for the URA, confirmed the authority is working with the fraternity.
“I will be overseeing the development,” he said. “We have a signed contract with the Alphas.”
Powell said the authority has tried to work with CEA founder Rashad Byrdsong, who has rented the building for the last seven years.
“The sad thing is, we really haven’t been negative toward Rashad,” Powell said. “We have that (vacant Black Contractors Association) building lined up for him.”
Campbell disagrees, saying Byrdsong has been treated unfairly and, “the Alphas don’t have a pot in the window.”
“Rashad tried to work quietly with them, and if he hadn’t been in that building there’s all that tax revenue that never would have been paid,” she said, adding that the three other remaining HBRDC members—Mary Savage, Harold and Wilford Bly—“need to get some courage.”
Byrdsong said he blew up before the June meeting because he didn’t think the board knew what was going on behind the scenes.
“Yarone (Zober, board chair) didn’t know the URA held the mortgage. So are these back room deals the norm?” said Byrdsong. “We’ve invested thousands into that building and maintained it, so we thought we’d at least have first refusal, so when the Alphas superseded us, we called foul.
“I don’t care what they say, they didn’t have no financing and went to Councilman (Ricky) Burgess to intercede. This is a political hot potato now. So, we’d like to sit down with Alpha Phi Alpha to see how we can both cooperate to service the community.”
Calls for comment to Burgess and Harold Bly were not returned by Courier deadline.
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