Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Philadelphia developer D3 introduces affordable housing for teachers

That's right, you heard me correctly.

Affordable housing is coming to Kensington, with about 60% of the units reserved for teachers/educators only, and another 20% reserved for other low-wage earners. It will be called Oxford Mills.

Cool concept, and more positive news for development in Kensington (which seems to be on fire, as of late).

For the most part, affordable housing in the US is typically geared toward those who are disabled, elderly, and/or qualify as low-income; and rightfully so. It's not everyday that you hear about an affordable housing project designed primarily for educators, and those who have recently graduated from college with a degree that will most likely start with lower-than-average wages; or as stated in the article, "newly minted professionals."

But, it's happening; and it's happening in Philadelphia.

D3 is looking to deliver loft-style units with exposed beams, high ceilings, large windows, and an architecturally pleasing facade. You know, the kind of units that fetch high rents in Philadelphia's growing neighborhoods. The best part is that they will be about 25% cheaper than comparable apartments (to those who qualify), which will compensate for the income level of its residents.


This building also plans to set aside about 40,000 sq ft (close to SEPTA's public transportation; Hello, TOD) to house offices for start-ups, non-profits, and a new HQ for Teach for America.

Overall, this project gets a thumbs up from me.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Philadelphia is attracting more tech jobs


Bentley Systems


These are some of the new technology companies setting up shop in Philadelphia. Since all 3 of these companies are currently based in Philadelphia's suburbs, why all of the sudden do they all need offices with a Philadelphia address?

The answer (according to Paul Melchiorre, President of iPipeline) is that, "Philly is changing for the better and tech companies are realizing that. This is as good an area to build a tech company as Boston, Austin, or San Francisco." Paul is right.

As I have stated many times in the past, even though it's a given, Philadelphia is the center for all history, culture, entertainment, and jobs in our area. It's the densest concentration of residents, shops, and restaurants, and it's also the center of our area's education and politics. We have some of the finest schools in the world, and more students are deciding to stay in Philadelphia.

It wasn't until the last 25-30 years that Philadelphians really started to see their own potential, after deindustrialization occurred throughout the Northeastern US. When jobs started leaving the city, so too did its residents (which helped create the thriving suburbs we have today).

Now that the city has cleaned up its act a bit, and more residents are moving back to the city, new jobs are following.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

**VOLUNTEERS WANTED** Philly Spring Cleanup, Saturday 4/13 @ 9AM, Umbria & Shawmont

Hi, loyal PUL readers.

If you've never been, last year's Philly Spring Cleanup had 12,000 volunteers and over 350 projects. It's a great event, and a chance for you to help your community.

Our city's 6th Annual Philly Spring Cleanup takes place this Saturday from 9AM - 2PM. I have participated in all 5 past cleanups, and this will be my 3rd year running a project for the local Roxborough area.

The project I ran last year will be the same as this year. We will be cleaning up Umbria St & Shawmont Ave, in between Domino Ln and Eva St. Where more volunteers will be needed this year will be on Umbria St from Domino Ln to "The Curve" (where Umbria meets Shawmont). This stretch has been both a dumping ground and litter prone area for years, and we want to make it cleaner and greener for the many runners, bikers, and drivers who frequent it.

All you need to do is bring yourself! Trash bags, gloves, and tools will all be provided for the event. Please feel free to either reply to this thread, or sign up at the link I have set up on Philly Streets Department: Projects

Your volunteer efforts are greatly appreciated, and I hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

More apartments planned for Kensington

After a friend gave me a tip to a good article, I decided to tweet it back on February 11th (here's the link to the article, if you don't feel like searching through my past tweets).

Now that Philadelphia is really starting to gain more national recognition as an affordable, livable, big city located in the heart of the Northeast US (located right in between NYC & DC, if you have never been), it not only opens up opportunities for home buyers but also for investors. After all, investors are usually the first ones to open up a ripe market. They sniff out the deals, improve the housing stock, and create new demand; sometimes it's inflated demand, but most times they are actually fulfilling a need.

In Philadelphia's case, I truly believe it is fulfilling a need.

Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood has been getting a lot of press lately, from myself included. To put it simply, Kensington is what I would refer to as a "fringe" neighborhood (or "spillover" neighborhood); please don't take either of those terms the wrong way, as I'm simply referring to supply and demand as it relates to real estate.

Why am I putting it so bluntly (and potentially insulting local residents)? Because I am looking at it from a Realtor's perspective, which takes into account the demand of all buyers, sellers, investors, and renters today. I'm also trying to educate my loyal readers, and mean no disrespect from my terminology.

So, what is creating demand for Kensington in 2013?

Well in a general sense, it's a lot of pent-up demand from both Northern Liberties and Fishtown (2 fairly well-defined neighborhoods) with a similar location (e.g. close to Center City, Delaware River, highways, public transportation, etc). In other words, when prices get too high in Northern Liberties and Fishtown (supply is low, demand is high) investors and buyers start looking for alternative options; enter Kensington.

Now don't get me wrong, all 3 of these neighborhoods have long-time residents who stuck it out through the bad times (i.e. Philadelphia's industrial decline) and are still living in these neighborhoods and taking care of them (while reaping the benefits of price appreciation). But the real demand in 2013 is new Philadelphia residents looking to buy real estate in popular neighborhoods throughout the city, on the back of a real estate market that's just starting to heat up. Not only to settle down in a cool, hip neighborhood, but to be close to their job, Center City, highways, nightlife, restaurants, coffee shops, and a new found community spirit that is taking place in lots of Philadelphia's older neighborhoods.

The good news is that I am starting to see a lot of potential in Kensington. Not only because of the things I already mentioned above, but because there are some key anchor projects taking shape; like the one in this article that inspired this post (and this one too, if you want more information). That's how Northern Liberties was rebuilt (think Piazza, Liberties Walk, etc.), and I'm starting to see that same positivity in Kensington.

It could be 20 years before Kensington really starts to see its full potential, but there are positive signs in the news right now. It may come sooner than we all think.