Saturday, February 2, 2013

Roxborough is becoming more popular for businesses and development


It's no secret that Roxborough is one of Philadelphia's oldest neighborhoods (established in 1690, and incorporated into Philadelphia in 1854).

But with age, comes change.

Once known as one of Philadelphia's wealthiest neighborhoods, due to the high income level from Manayunk's mill owners, Roxborough is still thriving today. There was a bit of a real estate and population lull back in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, but since then Roxborough's population and average real estate values have almost tripled.

What does that mean for Roxborough as a neighborhood?

It means that demand is up, driving growth, density, and value for both residents and businesses alike. In fact, Roxborough's average home price has barely moved since the real estate bubble burst back in 2006. That says a lot about Roxborough as a neighborhood. Affordability + livability are a recipe for real estate success in the long run.

Bernard Guet, Executive Director of the Roxborough Development Corporation, has experienced these positive changes in Roxborough, and more specifically in Roxborough's Central Business District. "Developers are looking for areas of the city that can be financially viable," says Guet. "I look at Roxborough and Manayunk as a village of 40,000 people who wish to be able to shop where they live."

Bernard Guet and the RDC recently helped in landing a deal with Planet Fitness, which is currently in the process of building a new facility at an old car dealership on Ridge Ave. It's anchor projects like Planet Fitness, The Foodery, and the expansion at Stanley's Hardware that will bring additional businesses to Roxborough and the Central Business District.

As for residential development, it's taking shape all around the neighborhood. Anything from a 1-5 home infill project, to the upcoming 32 home development called Kingsley Court (right off of Ridge Ave). It's projects like these that not only strengthen a neighborhood's population and keep the demand for real estate strong, but they also help bring in new businesses (as mentioned above) to support its new found residents.

On the flip side, the increased demand for new development has also caused Roxborough to lose some of its history like the architecturally significant Bunting House. The Bunting House was a hot topic of discussion for months as the owners/developers wanted to tear it down and utilize the value of the land, whereas local neighborhood groups wanted to keep the structure in tact and find a suitable tenant.

As it turns out, the building was torn down to make way for new development; which is yet to be known. It was definitely a loss for Roxborough's residents, but it paved the way for a future action plan.

"I think that was a wake-up call, especially for newcomers who share the pride and neighborhood values with longtime residents," stated Kay Sykora, who is the Director of The Schuylkill Project. "If you don't get these issues in front of them, it is easier for developers to come in and do what they want."

Lesson learned.

Now let's see what the future has in store for one of Philadelphia's greatest neighborhoods. My prediction is that the future will only get brighter for Roxborough in the years to come.

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