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Philly Urban Living

Philly Urban Living - Local | Real Estate | News | Development

By Timothy M. Garrity | Broker in Philadelphia, PA

Development is rising, and it's changing Point Breeze

American Sardine Bar | 18th & Federal

You may be familiar with Point Breeze in Philadelphia, and you may have never even heard of it.

If you're like me and you consistently keep up with news and development in Philadelphia, you hear about PB weekly; almost daily.

Change.

Controversy.

"Lotgate."

Gentrification.

Those are just some of the buzz words that have been thrown around over the past year or so, by longtime residents, neighborhood newcomers, and unbiased onlookers.

But who's right?

Well, neither the long-timers or newcomers are; in my opinion. I feel that it's more a matter of, "How can everyone work together to deal with the changes currently taking place?"

Point Breeze is currently at the epicenter of a few urban issues: 1) Changing Demographics, 2) Non-Profit vs For-Profit, and 3) Old vs New.

Let's start with "Changing Demographics." PB used to be comprised largely of diverse, working-class Philadelphians, and the neighborhood was supported by local businesses, churches, and families. Once "The Breeze" began to change in the 70s and 80s (due to drugs and crime), residents moved out of the neighborhood, values declined, and homes were left unattended; leaving behind blocks and blocks of decaying real estate.

When I say "Non-Profit vs For-Profit," I am generally referring to projects in the neighborhood developed by local organizations (both residential and commercial), versus those funded by private developers. Since the neighborhood started changing some 40 years ago, and the population declined (which is never good for any neighborhood), local civic leaders worked hard to stabilize Point Breeze; and they're still working on it today.

Then you have a very common problem in Philadelphia that I am calling "Old vs New." Problems stemming from the differing opinions of current residents and new residents is nothing new for any of America's older, larger cities; and it's certainly not new in Philadelphia. This problem can become even more exacerbated when property values and taxes come into play.

Being a Realtor who works in all of Philadelphia's diverse and unique neighborhoods, I feel that I can clearly see the changes taking place in Point Breeze, from a real estate perspective; it's a case of Supply & Demand. Some 40 years ago, demand was low and prices dropped. In 2013, demand is high and values are rising. Couple that with the drastic effect AVI will likely have on most of South Philadelphia's property taxes, and you now have major issues that are of a concern to PB's longtime residents.

Personally, I can see why both sides would be upset, but I have never been a proponent of resisting change just because its different. Change can be both good and bad, and it has to be carefully planned with lots of community input; but resisting change altogether can yield some of the worst results. Point Breeze is a dense, urban neighborhood, that's affordable, walkable/bikable, and in a great location (close to Center City, jobs, restaurants/bars, shopping, public transportation, and major roads/highways). PB has a great housing stock, and offers all of the advantages of big city living in a tight, historic, residential neighborhood. It's all of these factors that have created a renewed sense of demand for real estate in Point Breeze.

There is no doubt that PB is changing: new homes, new residents, new businesses, higher demand, higher values, and higher taxes.

It just depends on who you ask, whether it's good or bad.
 
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