Significant mixed-use project coming to Brewerytown

Rendering of Girard27 | Courtesy of Hidden City Philadelphia

 
If I’ve said it once, (or about 6 other times on my blog … here, here, here, here, here, and here) I’ll say it again: Brewerytown has momentum.

Not the kind of momentum where real estate developers, speculators, buyers, and tenants are guessing that Brewerytown will be one of Philadelphia’s hottest neighborhoods. Brewerytown is one of Philadelphia’s hottest neighborhoods for real estate.

Both commercial and residential alike.

If you’re already familiar with B-Town’s recent success, you’re ahead of the curve. If you’re not, here’s how I personally look at Brewerytown’s current situation.

West Girard Ave (between N 32nd St & W College Ave) is a perfectly-sized “Main Street” for the dense, historic neighborhoods that surround it (i.e. Brewerytown, Templetown, Fairmount, etc). Stretching about 6 city blocks, this swath of W Girard offers mixed-use potential, interesting architecture, reasonable rent, and a captive audience.

Not too small, and not too big.

So, why am I even mentioning this commercial strip? Because it’s potentially turning Brewerytown into the next Manayunk … the next Fairmount … the next Graduate Hospital … the next Cedar Park and Spruce Hill.

Those neighborhoods are all thriving today based on the same, traditional, old-as-time concept: community. Where the community is strong, the neighborhood is strong. And because Philadelphia was built/planned to embrace tight-knit communities, this concept still rings true today.

Now that Girard27 has been planned for N 27th St and N Taney St, and received a decent enough reception from both long-time and newbie residents, my opinion is that this corridor now has a legitimate anchor. The new Bottom Dollar supermarket was a nice touch on the western border, and the Braverman project (which is just across the street from Girard27) will only add more appeal. Also, let’s not forget about some of the other small businesses along W Girard (i.e. RyBrew, Shifty’s Taco, etc).

Needless to say, Brewerytown is coming into its own.

Although this may seem like old news to some, especially those who already live in the immediate vicinity, I felt that adding a professional real estate opinion would help bring the good news home; and also provide a different perspective from someone on the outside, looking in.

For those who have never been to Brewerytown, or have not visited for a while, good things are happening … and the timing seems to be perfect.

Why so much buzz lately about Market East?

PREIT’s rendering of the new Gallery at Market East

The Market East section of Philadelphia that is, not the regional transportation hub.

Maybe it’s just me, but almost everywhere I look in the local media these days, people are buzzing about Market East.

Some of those discussion topics, over the last year or so:

Girard Square

The Gallery

Market8 Casino

Times Square-esque Digital Signage

Everyone is talking, and for good reason. Out of all the original Center City neighborhoods (Logan Square/Circle, Rittenhouse Square, Washington Square, Society Hill, and Old City), Market East (or Center City East) is really the only one left with copious amounts of potential.

All of the others have already been redeveloped, or are in the process of.

The reason I found this story so blog-worthy, was because of that aforementioned potential. Center City has become so prominent/noticeable in Philadelphia’s comeback story, that it has literally spawned an entire army of coveted neighborhoods.

Graduate Hospital

Passyunk Square + East Passyunk

Newbold

Pennsport

Fairmount

Francisville

Northern Liberties

Fishtown

The #1 reason why these varying and unique neighborhoods have caught fire within the local real estate market, is because of Center City’s success (and University City’s too, if you want to get technical).

Original Center City has become expensive and is short on supply, which is why the spillover demand has landed in these neighborhoods. In reality, there was really no where else to go but to follow the concentric circles.

Now, it’s not just because of CC + UC that Philadelphia has changed so much over the last 20+ years.

Manayunk

Roxborough

East Falls

Chestnut Hill

Mount Airy

Kensington

Templetown

As you can now see, the demand is spreading all over town, into historic neighborhoods, and for different reasons. Main Streets, universities, small businesses, networking groups, night markets, food trucks, and everything in between.

Market East may currently be the trendiest name in town, but it sure is not the last.

Plans unveiled for the “New” Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park Waterworks, South Garden | Philadelphia

 
If you thought Philadelphia’s famed Fairmount Park could not get any better, you would be mistaken. The funny thing about FP is that it gets mixed results from those who live around it … seriously, it does.

Some love Fairmount Park, and some hate it. Some think its potential has been reached, and some think there is only room for improvement. Some Philadelphians use it every day, and some locals have never set foot in it.

For being one of the world’s largest urban park systems (aka “The Largest Landscaped Urban Park in the World,” according to Wikipedia), I personally feel that the park itself is underutilized. There are so many different elements to this 9,200 acre Philadelphia green space, that it’s too hard to recognize all of them. The most recognizable places include (but are not limited to): Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Zoo, Boathouse Row, Please Touch Museum, and Bartram’s Garden.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What I really love about Fairmount Park is that it’s so well protected and preserved, considering it’s located in the 5th largest US city. What was originally an 1858 agreement to protect Philadelphia’s main water supply (aka the Schuylkill River), has turned into a phenomenal public park system (63 different neighborhood parks, to be exact). This gives all Philadelphians the option to escape the busyness of city life (any day of the week), and still be within close proximity to their homes.

Okay, that should be enough background and history to get us started here.

Close to 1 year ago, Philadelphia Parks & Rec teamed up with local community groups and Penn Praxis (the design arm of UPenn) to discuss how East/West Fairmount Park could be better connected and utilized as a whole. The result, a comprehensive plan called “The New Fairmount Park.”

As to not deviate from my usual approach, let’s break this jawn down in traditional PUL fashion:

– “Why East & West Fairmount Park?”: Well, simply put, East/West Fairmount Park are the core of Fairmount Park as a whole. They both touch Center City (East) and University City (West), which both happen to be the biggest growth areas in Philadelphia today. On top of that, no other city in the US can match East/West’s combined size and overall value to the health of local residents. From a tourism standpoint, these 2 park sections draw 7M visitors every year, are home to some of Philadelphia’s most significant cultural institutions, and offer a wealth of sculptures and public art. In other words, East/West are a big draw for tourists. From a recreational standpoint, there are 54 trail miles, 16 creeks, and 4 playgrounds. In other words, East/West serve as a huge public playground for those younger and older alike.

– “The Big Vision”: This one has to be seen on the plan itself. In general, it capitalizes on some of FP’s greatest assets: creeks, trails, and park entrances. To see some of the graphics depicting the plan’s ideas and calls-to-action, click here.

– “First-Steps”: With any comprehensive plan, the goal is to start small by meeting short-term goals for long-term gains. That’s exactly what the plan calls for in this section. Things like improving watersheds, traffic studies, and pedestrian accessibility all contribute to exposing the park’s physical attributes and overall beauty. Simple things like painting bike lane lines on bridges that cross the Schuylkill River will help connect East and West. Making park entrances more visible to those walking, riding, or driving by will increase Fairmount Park’s curb appeal and encourage more usage. Steps like these do not cost millions of dollars to complete, they just require a plan and some attention to detail.

– “Focus Areas”: This section of the plan focuses on 5 key areas, and they mostly revolve around the same simple concept: bring people to the water sources in Fairmount Park. By following the 16 creeks that flow down to the Schuylkill River, park users will have a natural path from uphill to river (and vice-versa). The funny thing about the neighborhoods surrounding FP, is that many residents in those communities don’t realize how easy it is to access the park. Both natural and man-made barriers are the culprits. The goal is to use waterways as a guide to increasing park usage and park access.

Done and done.

My hope is that this blog post will serve as a launching point for all PUL readers to see how great Fairmount Park really is, and how much greater it will become in the not-too-distant future.