Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hope to see you at Roxtoberfest. Octoberfest in Roxborough!

Come one, come all!

It's been a long-time-coming, but Roxborough is about to host an event that has the potential to become a fun-filled, annual tradition.

For years, Roxborough's NW Philadelphia neighbors have hosted their own annual, successful events:

- Manayunk has the Arts Festival, recognition for the newly minted Philly Cycling Classic, Restaurant Week, and multiple Streat Food Festivals.
- Chestnut Hill has the Home & Garden Festival, Fall for the Arts, Stag & Doe Nights, and the Harry Potter Festival.
- Mt Airy hosts Street Fare, Finally Friday, and the likes of Philly's now-famous Night Market.

What about Roxborough? Yeah, what about Roxborough.

Roxborough is a large neighborhood with beautiful surroundings and parks, it has an active Main Street (Ridge Ave) with lots of local businesses, it has tons of involved residents (e.g. non-profits, countless neighborhood groups, active religious organizations, etc.), and it's also the neighborhood I call home. If I had to guess (from the perspective of someone who has only lived here for the past 12 years), the reason Roxborough does not have many large festivals is because all of our neighbors already have so many; and good ones at that.

Now don't get me wrong, there are a few annual community events already taking place in Roxborough: Gorgas Park Harvest Festival and Rock'n-the-Ridge Car Show. But what this neighborhood has been missing is a signature event for the entire community, as well as for the communities around us; and dare I say it, even for people who don't live in the Philadelphia area. An event that has lots of food, activities for kids, and live entertainment all-in-one.

Welcome to Roxtoberfest!

The Roxborough Development Corporation, in partnership with Advent (a local, Roxborough company that specializes in advertising, events, and entertainment), has put together an event that is expected to exceed over 1,000 attendees. My personal guess is that there will be even more people than that.

Here is a brief rundown of what will be happening at Roxtoberfest:

- More than 50 local/regional/national/international businesses
- Live music from multiple entertainers/bands
- Kid-friendly options such as face painting, moon-bounces, and much more
- The Roxtoberfest Beer Garden with both craft and domestic options
- Philadelphia-based food trucks, as well as other local food vendors
- Free admission to all who attend

Wow! Not bad for Roxborough's first shot at a signature event.

The only way for you to find out how awesome this event will be, is to stop by and see it for yourself. So come on by, bring the kids, and help us turn this first-timer into an annual tradition; oh, and grab a beer and brat while you're at it.

I look forward to seeing you all there!

Roxtoberfest
Saturday, October 5th  |  12PM - 6PM
Lyceum Ave, Top Block  |  Between Ridge Ave & Mitchell St (across from Bob's Diner)
Rain Date: Sunday, October 6th  |  12PM - 6PM

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Modern spaces coming to Graduate Hospital

St. Albans St  |  Graduate Hospital, Philadelphia

Mixed-use meets modern architecture. That's probably the best way I can describe these 2 up-and-coming projects in Philadelphia's Graduate Hospital neighborhood.

If you are unfamiliar with Graduate Hospital (sometimes referred to as G-Ho, coined by Bradley Maule, founder of the former/newly-resurrected PhillySkyline.com), it may very well be Philadelphia's most changed neighborhood over the past 10 years.

Formally named after an actual medical center, which used to be known as Graduate Hospital and is now known as Penn Medicine at Rittenhouse, this Center City'ish neighborhood still goes by the G-Ho name but has completely changed its look. Most local residents now prefer to call it Southwest Center City, or South-of-South (being that it's just south of South St; clever). Its borders are most commonly recognized as being West of Broad St, South of South St, East of the Schuylkill River, and North of Washington Ave.

What has really made this neighborhood come alive in recent years is increased residential demand for Center City living. Center City has always been home to the following zip codes: 19103, 19102, 19107, and 19106. Nowadays, parts of 19130, 19146, and 19147 (among others) have basically become linked to Center City Philadelphia (or Downtown Philadelphia, if you're not local). And since all of those neighborhoods (including G-Ho) offer similar amenities to Center City (e.g. walkability/bikeability, jobs, parks, restaurants/bars, events, etc.), they have now been meshed together and are being treated almost as one in the same; each with their own unique pros, cons, and prices.

What makes Graduate a little different? Here are a few things, in my professional opinion:

1. It's heavily residential, and has well defined boundaries.
2. It has a great housing stock, as well as the option to build/buy new construction.
3. It's has tree-lined streets, parks, and involved neighbors.
4. It's just south of Rittenhouse/Fitler, just west of BV/QV, and just east of the Schuylkill River Trail.
5. It has an up-and-coming commercial scene on South St West kickstarted by restaurants, shops, and everyday businesses; which has also improved its overall livability.

Since all of this has occurred, prices have skyrocketed over the past 10 years (upwards of 500% in some instances).

Why?

Well, look at some of the reasons I noted above; those are common reasons that are driving people to discover urban living again. It's a desirable neighborhood (due to its location), it has well defined boundaries (which limit its supply), and it has high demand (as already noted).

Now that you know a little more about G-Ho, check out these 2 new projects that are helping shape an already successful neighborhood into one of Philadelphia's most desired spots.

Friday, September 13, 2013

South Philly is the place to be ... for real.

Avenue of the Arts - South Broad St | Philadelphia

Bold title ... I know.

**Please Note: For the South Philadelphians who already love where they live, I mean absolutely no disrespect. Think of my title as more of an educational tool for those who are not familiar with your awesome neighborhoods.**

I am a firm believer in the current South Philly Phenomenon, which is something I just coined (feel free to share it, as needed). From Bella Vista to Queen Village, Passyunk to Pennsport, and Grays Ferry to Point Breeze; you're all on the hot seat!

South Philly is a big part of Philadelphia, especially when compared to Center City (on the map, just above it). Take a look at the map below to see how large South Philadelphia really is:

Kind of a terrible map, but it had SP already highlighted; couldn't resist.

Not only is SP a big chunk of the city, but it's probably one of the city's densest sections as well. The standard SP home is a row, but you can also find twins. 2 stories is the norm, but there are plenty of 3 story homes as well.

Now, back to my title. Why do I think South Philly is the place to be? Here are a few reasons why:

1. Location, Location, Location: The #1 rule in real estate holds especially true in South Philadelphia, and SP may just have the most convenient location in all of Philadelphia proper. SP is currently in the middle of Philadelphia's top 3 employment zones: Center City, University City, and The Navy Yard. It's also super-close to Philadelphia's top 2 entertainment zones: Center City and University City (sorry NW Philadelphia, you know I love you). South Philly is close to all major highways (I-76, I-95, and I-676), and it's also close to Public Transportation (the Broad Street Line cuts right through SP's 4 zip codes, and there are buses abound). Whether you are in 19145, 19146, 19147, or 19148, you are close to all that Philadelphia has to offer.

2. South Philly was built for the long-haul: In 1682, Philadelphia became the first US city to have a master, gridiron plan where highways/streets were planned first before real estate lots were sold. William Penn wanted to have wide streets (appropriate for the time, of course), public spaces (what's up Rittenhouse Square, City Hall, et al), and he wanted the city to be in between the Schuylkill and the Delaware (for healthy living, and for transportation/commerce); smart dude. Even though SP was not incorporated into the City of Philadelphia until 1854, it was still built like a dense, urban neighborhood; the same is true today. But instead of SP's dense neighborhoods and narrow streets being a negative thing, they now promote walkability, bikeability, use of public transit, and tight-knit blocks. In essence, what was once a horse/car centric section of Philadelphia has since turned into an urban paradise.

3. The homes were built solid, they're easy to maintain, and affordable to most: 3 great reasons to buy a home in South Philly. In some neighborhoods, you can get a fully rehabbed 2-3 bedroom home for $100K. Not bad for being able to walk/bike to almost all of you daily errands. Oh, and you can probably walk to public transit, walk to work, and then walk to a restaurant/bar; nice. SP homes typically range in size from 1,000 - 1,500 sq ft. Now there are some that are even less than 1,000 sq ft, and there are some over 2,000 sq ft. All in all, they promote easy living (and smart/sustainable living too). The row homes attached to your left and right share heating/cooling elements when the weather is tough, the roofs are very easy to fix, and the yards are easy to maintain. Easy living all the way around, and affordable too.

4. Some of the best skyline views: Although South Philly was built on a denser scale than most of the city, it was also built on a lower scale as well. There aren't too many tall buildings in SP, which make way for incredible skyline views (day or night) from almost any one of its many neighborhoods. Since the yards are typically small, a great way to spruce up your home's curb appeal (and overall urban functionality) is to add a roof deck. They're great for outdoor space, entertaining, stargazing, relaxing, or even gardening. Container gardening is becoming the norm in Philadelphia's hip, dense neighborhoods.

5. Any sport you want to see is just down the road: There's a reason why South Philadelphia is home to some of Philly's best sports fans, and it's because all of Philadelphia's sports teams are just minutes away from their back yards. South Philly is a sports mecca, and it's passed down from generation to generation where it becomes a way of life. Plus, you have all of the Italian delis supporting it as well; one big happy sports family! What better way to spend a spring/summer night (or a Sunday afternoon in the fall) then to have your flat screen TV, a fridge full of beer, and a hoagie (with a bag of chips, of course) from a South Philly deli (I recommend Sarcone's, Chickie's, or Paesano's; but hey, that's me). And don't forget about the newly built Xfinity Live!, where you can dine out and enjoy a game.

Oh, and one last thing that's making South Philly the place to be. Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts is on fire right now, and it's slowly turning South Broad St into Philadelphia's most famous boulevard.

Not only is Dranoff on his 3rd residential anchor project, but there are other large-scale developments popping up left and right.

And there you have it. That's why I personally think South Philly is the place to be.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Morgan Hall has changed the face of Temple University

A face lift for North Broad St

Quite literally.

A lot of people don't know this (including many Philadelphians), but Temple University is now home to over 35,000 students; that's a big number for a dense, urban campus. Now, not all of those students are undergraduates, but 35,000 is an impressive number nonetheless. For comparison's sake, UPenn has close to 25,000 students and Drexel also has close to 25,000 students.

So, if University City has over 50,000 students (with just Penn and Drexel alone), what's next for the neighborhood in-around Temple's campus? My professional opinion is that TU will soon become a Philadelphia "mini-hub" (just like Center City, University City, and the Navy Yard have). It's only 2 miles from City Hall, it has a huge educational/medical/legal presence, and most of the campus has frontage on Broad St; all good things.

As a Philadelphia based real estate agent, my job is to know the local market and educate my clients on what is happening in/around the city. In Philadelphia, colleges play a large role in the city's economic vitality. From student rentals to financial opportunities for real estate investors, Philadelphia's colleges have a large daily impact on the entire Philadelphia MSA.

The reason I am blogging about this is because recent private/public development shows that the area in/around Temple is definitely on the rise.

Since I was an undergraduate student at La Salle from 1997-2001, I like to compare how things are today to how they were when I was in college. And in my days as a student, Temple was more well known for commuting than living on/around campus. Reason being, TU only has enough on-campus housing for 5,000-7,500 students (the last I heard; so don't quote me on that, as the most recent figure was hard to locate), and you can't live on-campus as a Junior or Senior.

This creates a huge off-campus housing opportunity for Temple's 35,000+ undergraduate/graduate students.

All told, I think there are currently 12,000-15,000 TU students living on/around campus (again, don't quote me on that as the numbers seemed to vary from source to source). In the grand scheme of things, that's a pretty small number for a school of 35,000+. Which means there is more room for growth.

This is a big reason why the Temple University area is doing so well from a real estate perspective. Demand is high, and supply is low. It wasn't until about 5 years ago that TU students created a strong, visible demand to live off/around campus; close enough to walk. Thus, real estate values have skyrocketed around TU in recent years (even during the downturn), and the boundaries for TU's off-campus student area are expanding every year.

As you can also see from Temple's 20/20 Plan, there is even more in store for their main campus in the years ahead.

Read the article about Morgan Hall, and learn how this university backed development project has changed the face of Temple forever.