Unfortunately, this is a question that’s top of mind for buyers I’m working with who are out of the area, especially from New York. The NY Times front page article linked below, amidst other news highlights of crime in Philadelphia, created a heavy impact on our city’s reputation.
- NY Times article from August 11 – ‘Everybody is Armed’ – as Shootings Soar, Philadelphia is Awash in Guns
When I moved to Philly in 2011, I was told it’s a “city of 1,000 neighborhoods.” The city expanded by acquiring townships like Germantown, which retain their names as neighborhoods but are still technically Philadelphia.
It’s as if we are 10+ boroughs combined into one city. That makes statistics hard to interpret, whether it’s home values or crime.
To better understand Philadelphia, it’s necessary to take a micro-market viewpoint. Use the links below;
We do indeed have a serious gun problem in Philadelphia. We also have a high poverty rate and a long painful history of redlining and discriminatory economic practices that have affected minority neighborhoods disproportionately. Philly has multiple realities – premier, quality living and extreme poverty.
Philadelphia Inquirer did an insightful report last month; A Glimpse Into a Weekend of Violence. The stories are truly heart breaking. The reality sits in that we truly have a tale of two cities. Violence and unemployment are dramatically heaviest in communities of color in Philadelphia.
Center City – Philly’s “Manhattan”
The Center City district of Philadelphia is in essence our Manhattan. Bordered by the Schuylkill River on the west, and the Delaware River on the east and generally considered to be between Washington Ave on the south and Girard Ave on the north.
Bordering neighborhoods like University City, west of the Schuylkill River, Point Breeze south of Washington Avenue and Fishtown north of Girard Avenue have become included in Center City living with gentrification in recent years.
Portions of Center City have been negatively impacted by the absence of office workers. Specifically MidTown luxury condos at Two Liberty and The Ritz-Carlton Residences have suffered the most as highlighted in my recent blog post;
- The Future of Center City – PhillyMag.com featuring an interview with Paul Levy, head of the Center City District
Rittenhouse Square – Philly’s Upper East Side
While each neighborhood has its own unique personality, Rittenhouse Square is in essence our version of Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
During the early 80’s when New York struggled with a high crime rate, the Upper East Side retained its value and desirability. My personal opinion is that Rittenhouse Square will continue to thrive.
During COVID shutdowns and riots in 2020, Rittenhouse Square emptied out. Most owners in Rittenhouse also have shore homes in New Jersey or Florida and simply left the city. It was nearly impossible to sell or rent a condo in late 2020, even early 2021. However, my clients who purchased during this period of uncertainty secured values we may never see again.
I believe then, as I do now, that Rittenhouse Square is like blue chip stock. While valuations may fluctuate, there’s long term security and high desirability. In addition to being the home of some of our city’s wealthiest citizens, it’s also home to our likely next mayor Allan Domb. Known as “the condo king” for decades, he is highly invested in most of the premier condo developments on Rittenhouse Square, and lives and works in the neighborhood.
Other premier Center City neighborhoods;
- Society Hill – rich in history, near Independence Mall and the Delaware River
- Queen Village – just south of Society Hill, one of Philly’s oldest neighborhoods full of restaurants, bistros and entertainment
- Washington Square – home to luxury condos, brownstones surrounding Washington Square Park.
- Old City – sometimes compared to NY’s SoHo with lofts, galleries, old factories converted to condos and some of Philly’s best restaurants
- Fairmount / Art Museum – multiple neighborhoods in this area, with various dynamics including luxury condos near the Art Museum / Rodin Museum.
- Logan Square – literally just north of Rittenhouse Square. The Schuylkill Yards development continues to add amenities, and new construction offerings.
- Avenue of the Arts – named in honor of our theatre district on Broad Street.
Uncertainty Can Equal Opportunity!
Everyone has different lifestyle goals, and I completely respect that. Options for cosmopolitan living, either full time or part time that make areas like Rittenhouse Square so desirable may also make it worth considering moving forward during times of uncertainty which can be the best time to negotiate a great value.
Suburban Lifestyle Options
Philadelphia’s premier suburban communities known as the Main Line offer attractive alternatives to Center City living – from affordable condos to sprawling estates.
Unlike suburbs in other major metropolitan areas, each township has a rich history and unique lifestyle characteristics. Many of my clients find that their desire for a mix of quiet, spacious living with dining, shopping and community activities can be met in areas such as Blue Bell, Media, Ardmore, Wayne and Wynnewood.
To explore what fits best for your lifestyle, let’s talk! Please book a time on my calendar at your convenience.
More background articles and links for your reference;
Police Challenges since 2020
Nationwide, there’s been an increase in unsolved murders since 2020 as highlighted by a CBS Morning news series:
CBS Morning News has been doing a series on unsolved murders in the USA and in late June did a segment focused on Philadelphia. According to this news report, only 50% of murders are solved since 2020 nationwide.
It’s an ugly truth that unsolved murders in Philly are disproportionately reflected in communities of color. Police Chief Daniele Outlaw highlights the distrust between police and communities of color, especially Black communities as one of the challenges. Post George Floyd and Black Lives Matter demonstrations in 2020, that “trust” and cooperation which historically has been a challenge, has become even worse.
Mayor Jim Kenney – go ahead and resign!
Philly’s leadership is lacking and the upcoming mayoral elections are likely to bring dramatic change. I’m generally not political, mostly skeptical. Our city has a long history of corruption in office, like many other cities, including Washington, DC. Additionally, our DA, Larry Krasner, has a reputation of being soft on crime. Whether it’s valid or not, this perception doesn’t help.
Mayor Kenney’s response to the July 4th shootings at our festival at the Art Museum when he said he “can’t wait until he’s not Mayor” sent a shock wave through the community. No matter how he tries to backpedal the comment, it’s like a bell that can’t be un-rung.
- Philly residents and politician to Kenney; go ahead and resign – WHYY.org
- Mayor Kenney says he’ll be happy when he’s not mayor (in response to July 4th shootings) – CBS News
- Philly’s police department is short 1,300 officers – Philadelphia Inquirer
- Mayor Kenney demands COVID vaccination compliance – 270 workers on leave; “about 22% of the Fire Department and more than 15% of the Police Department requested exemptions”