The bad: lots of vacant homes - draws crime, yards don't look so great, lots of renters. I often find trash in my yard (empty chip bags, soda cans) due to adults and kids having a blatant disregard of personal property and no concept of trash cans. Sometimes I hear gun shot noises (you'll get to know the difference between fireworks and gun shots!), kids like to walk/stand in the middle of the street and then look at you like your have a problem when you drive by. IF YOU CAN DEAL WITH ALL THESE NUISANCES, and that's they are, then you will enjoy the neighborhood.
If you can be a creative problem solver instead of dweller, you will have the ability to make an impact in this neighborhood. When I speak about the BAD issues, I used to live off Ralph McGill and Boulevard in a townhome around Freedom Parkway. I wouldn't even go (and still don't) to the gas station on the corner because of the elements that hang outside and down Boulevard. Yet it's supposidly and nicer area.
I like Sylvan Hills. I've attended neighborhood crime watch/block captain trainings, been part of the SHNA (Sylvan Hills Neighborhood Assoc.), attend NPU-X monthly meetings, know my City Council woman personally. So I feel apart of this community and know alot of people who can help me with anything (yard work, ride to MARTA, to airport, questions about Code Enforcement, traffic light being out etc).
The SHNA started a new Google Group you can sign up on if you want. SylvanHillsGroup@googlegroups.com
Our website for the neighborhood is http://www.sylvanhillsna.org/index.php
I've been in real estate for over 3 years and know alot about SW ATL. Buy a Big Dog and you shouldn't have any problems! I've never had a problem with break-ins and I have a big dog. Get to know all your neighbors. Befriend them. Watch out for each other. Attend the free trainings on code enforcement and crime watch which will help you be alert to suspicious activities. If you aren't used to that mindset, you don't really notice things that would be red flags. Even though I'm 36, I act like the old "nosey neighbor" that has nothing better to do with her time. But ALL my neighbors call me when they notice odd things and we deal with it together.
I wish you much success on your real estate journey. It's definitely an adventure.
There is so much to consider and I've noticed in addition to "the" list home-buyers have their decision is based on the feeling they get from the house and area. With all you are looking for, you may want to consider East Point and College Park. They both have MARTA stations that are just blocks from the historic neighborhoods, plus shops and restuarants. "Big Box" shopping can be done at the Camp Creek Marketplace which has Lowes, Publix. Old Navy, Barnes and Nobles, Target, etc.
I am quite familiar with Sylvan Hills and it has been "on the cusp" for years indeed. There is a small cool coffee shop and a strong neighborhood organization. However, there have been a number of foreclosures due to investors who do poor renovation jobs or just run off with the $ with no renovation. Unfortunately Atlanta has been blighted with this and that is one reason the lending market is where it is. But I digress. There does not seem to be any more crime in Sylvan Hills than there is anywhere else.
I think it will come down to you finding the home that tugs at your heart and suits your budget.
If you drive down the street(s) that you are considering at 7:30pm with the windows down, and you feel comfortable, then you should be comfortable living in the neighborhood.
Fraud, amateur real estate speculators and a few other criminals have hurt the area, but not forever.
I believe that the Beltline will happen in 20 years. I believe that in about 7 years Fort Mcpherson will be a remarkable area. I believe that within 10 years, so will Lakewood. Sylvan Hills is a small neighborhood, but it will be positively impacted by Atlanta's population growth over the next few years. People are coming, and Sylvan Hills will prosper over time.
I know the areas that might interest you - if you want a free tour, call me.
Regarding your questions:
Why has it been in transition for close to 10 years? I don't get that and I was hoping that the local realty pros here could help me understand. (GH) I would definitely recommend finding a professional realtor that has worked the area during at least the last eight years and can give you the straight goods. I've seen Ramiro Garcia http://www.dwellintown.com/ on here and he has made some comments indicating he knows the area pretty well. ERA Baker Group (East Point) also works the area. Another realtor that deals with a lot of REO homes is Rick Hale. My feeling is that the area was ripe for transition in the early 2000's when the real estate market was taking off. The speculators, flippers and fraudulant mortgage groups moved in and drove up the prices (and taxes) and the area was really starting to show signs of improvement. Alot of that ended with the subprime crisis. Now its difficult for people to get mortgages and buy homes as the 30310 zipcode is one of the worst for foreclosures and mortgage fraud in GA.
Also there don't seem to be any big box grocery stores, restaurants, or retail shops nearby...is this part of the reason? Is it because of the neighborhood's location around railway and other industry? (GH) Its all about demographics with these kinds of companies. My guess is that they just havent seen enough momentum/penetration in their target audiences to warrant investment. Chicken and Egg kind of thing. Its definitely one of the downsides to the area as there is no central retail district like East Point or College Park.
I'd really like to know what I'm missing so that I can make an informed decision. It seems that I don't have all the facts. (GH) I understand. It takes time. Find as many experts as possible and do alot of research. I really believe the area has tremendous potential if you can handle a few years wait to get a major payback.
One last point - I believe Capitol View has a neighborhood association that meets on a regular basis. It might be worth looking into.
The main reasons I am looking at Sylvan Hills is because (1) of the low prices, (2) the brick bungalows (I like old craftsman type homes), (3) a park next to the neighborhood, (4) it's location 5-10 minutes from downtown, and (5) it's location within one mile of two different MARTA stations. With petrol being sky high, I'm looking for a place that will allow me to walk or ride my bike to MARTA and then take the train straight to work during the week. This is only area that seems to fit the bill in terms of price.
Capitol View Manor fits all of the criteria above except #5. It's a bit further from the train stations and I would need to cross a busy street to get there. If that wasn't an issue then Capitol View Manor would have been my first stop. I rode through there once with a friend and it was very quiet...tucked away from the hustle and bustle about it.
To get back to the subject, you mentioned that Sylvan Hills is transitioning. I did a google search on the neighborhood and based on a Creative Loafing article it seems that it has been transitioning since the early 2000s. Why has it been in transition for close to 10 years? I don't get that and I was hoping that the local realty pros here could help me understand. Also there don't seem to be any big box grocery stores, restaurants, or retail shops nearby...is this part of the reason? Is it because of the neighborhood's location around railway and other industry? I'd really like to know what I'm missing so that I can make an informed decision. It seems that I don't have all the facts.