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How foot traffic affects condo values

Hybrid back-to-work models appear to be the new normal, based on a recent survey by Philadelphia’s Center City District. Major metropolitan areas across the country face the same challenge as we recover from COVID related economic impacts.

Hybrid Work and Work from home

Foot traffic is still a little less than two-thirds of what it was pre-pandemic, with major differences between who is coming to Center City to work and who is coming for fun, according to that report.

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An interesting dynamic not often discussed is how foot traffic changes have affected condo markets. In Center City we see these differences in neighborhoods and locations very close to each other. For instance Rittenhouse Square foot traffic vs. MidTown is a dramatic story.

What’s hard to see looking at condos online is that literally half a block can make a tremendous difference! No where is that more obvious than looking at this tale of two condos;

The Aria vs. The Academy House

Both The Aria and The Academy House come up in searches for Rittenhouse Square. While only 3 blocks from Rittenhouse Square park, the lifestyle offered is very different. Both are walkable to theatre events on Broad Street, or what we call Avenue of the Arts and literally across the street from each other.

So why would 1/2 a block make a difference?

The address for The Aria is 1425 Locust, however the entrance is on 15th Street and on the first floor of the building is a Dunkin’ Donuts.

Now we’re getting to the heart of how retail affects condo values. Let me share a story with you to explain.

Recently I had clients under contract for a luxury condo at The Aria. The interior is gorgeous and offered them exactly what they wanted for their new Philly condo after selling their Manhattan coop.

However, as we moved through the contract process there were some issues that came to light and we sat down with the sellers to try to find a solution. The option to rent vs buy was offered, and we also explored the possibility of renegotiating purchase price. However, what ultimately made it a no at any price were the drug deals my clients saw on the corner in front of Dunkin’ Donuts as well as homeless sleeping on the sidewalk all day.

Having lived in Manhattan their entire lives, they certainly were open to urban dynamics. However, this was just too much at any price for them!

In contrast, literally across the street is The Academy House. The main entrance however is off Locust Street, adjacent to The Academy of Music, across the street from Estia and around the corner from The Kimmel Center – the heart of Philly’s “Broadway” district, aka, Avenue of the Arts.

The Academy House condo entry is set back from the street surrounded by active commercial and professional services. A second entry is off of 15th street where the on-site parking garage provides easy and secure entry, whether walking or driving.

Interior photos of condos from both developments appear very attractive online. You wouldn’t really know the differences without a personal preview or showing.

Just two blocks north at 15th and Chestnut Streets we have another “Tale of Two Condos” with similar challenges.

The Ellington vs The Packard Grande

A few blocks north on 15th street we find a similar story with The Ellington located at 1500 Chestnut Street and The Packard Grand located at 111 S 15th. While sales at The Packard Grande have been soft and there are challenges for buyers due to non-conforming loan stipulations, the lifestyle is very different accessing the condo development off of 15th Street versus The Ellington’s entry on Chestnut.

Why? Retail along Chestnut Street adjacent to and across from The Ellington include Wendy’s, Popeye’s Chicken, Foot Locker and some low-end retail stores selling essentially “knock off” discount clothing. On the other hand, The Packard Grande entry is literally around the corner on a block with virtually no retail or fast food.

What’s nearby?

On Chestnut between Broad Street and 15th we have the recently opened new luxury W Hotel and its pet friendly sister The Element. On the other hand, located near LOVE Park at 15th and Arch Street is Philadelphia’s Family Court.

With a lack of office workers in the area, foot traffic has deteriorated significantly. With no high-end retail, and few restaurants it’s a very different dynamic than at Rittenhouse Square reflecting the CCD report details quoted above.

What AI can’t tell you!

As much as I love technology, there’s nothing like local knowledge to help you sort out best options for your short term and long term goals. For more neighborhood insights including buyer previews be sure to subscribe on YouTube and follow me on Social Media.

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Susanna Kunkel

Susanna Kunkel brings her skills from a career in the executive offices of major corporations to her real estate business - treating each client like a VIP. With 18 years of experience as a real estate advisor, you can be confident in knowledgeable, personalized, confidential service. Hear what her clients say -

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