Stretching out from one of the five original green space parks planned by city founder William Penn in the 17th century, the neighborhood of Rittenhouse is one of Philadelphia’s most desirable. Rittenhouse Square itself is a leafy oasis amid the high-rise condos, graceful brick townhouses, and trendy restaurants and boutiques that set the tone for this swanky district.
According to James Price, a Realtor with Keller Williams, “If you want to live in the center of it all, and are prepared to pay for it, there is no better neighborhood to call home than Rittenhouse Square.” He cites new gyms, yoga and spin studios, and vegan and juice bars as evidence that this traditionally conservative, blue-blooded neighborhood has been evolving to meet the expectations of health-conscious, younger residents.
If you want to live in Rittenhouse, however, it will cost you. The median sale price of a single family home is $699,000, while the median sale price of a condo is $438,000.
Rentals can also be pricey — an average of $1,830 a month for a one-bedroom apartment — but come with a front-row seat to Rittenhouse Square’s bustling street life and easy access to some of Philadelphia’s best dining, shopping and culture. Price also notes a new trend of micro units — converted from hotel rooms and office spaces into 350-500 square foot studios — with rents ranging from $1,000-$1,200 a month.
Although the neighborhood continues to attract millennials and empty nesters, there has also been an upsurge in families. Longtime Rittenhouse resident and owner of neighborhood staple Metropolitan Bakery, Wendy Born, was a Rittenhouse pioneer. Born and her husband raised their children in Rittenhouse in the mid-1990s, a time when other families were fleeing the city. “No one wanted to live in Rittenhouse,” she recalls. “After 5 p.m., Walnut Street was empty. People were afraid. Homelessness was out of control. And the Greenfield School wasn’t then what it is today.”
But all that has changed. While homelessness is still a concern throughout Philadelphia, new city government outreach groups and nonprofits such as Project HOME have been making a real difference in raising awareness and providing housing. And an active Home and School Association has helped transform Greenfield into an attractive option for families who choose to raise their kids in Rittenhouse.
Families are returning to the neighborhood in record numbers. Born recalls that when she was looking to open Metropolitan in 1993, people advised her to find a place with parking. At the time, she was more concerned that the location not have steps, a nod to the empty nester residents of neighboring high rises. “I would never have dreamed,” she laughs, “that we’d need doors big enough to accommodate strollers. But we do!”
ON THE MARKET
1719 Rittenhouse Square
4 bedrooms, 3 full baths, 2 half baths
Always wanted to live steps from storied Rittenhouse Square? This historic property has lots of original character and coveted attached parking. The first floor and finished basement are currently used as office space by a law practice, while the second and third floors are set up as a residence, with many upgrades including an updated full kitchen with a door to a deck.
Contact: Margaux Genovese Pelegrin, Berkshire Hathaway Fox & Roach, 215-205-2400, firstname.lastname@example.org
1628 Spruce St., 2R
$1,850 a month
1 bed, 1 bath
This beautiful, spacious one-bedroom apartment has loads of charm. High ceilings, a rare wood burning fireplace and stone mantel are features in the oversized living and dining areas. Fabulous natural light shines through eight floor to ceiling windows, and a bright kitchen comes with stainless appliances and granite counters. The bedroom has a southern bay window overlooking quaint Cypress Street.
Contact: Jacqui Greenberg, Coldwell Banker Welker Real Estate, 215-235-7800, email@example.com
Vernick Food & Drink
It’s no wonder this destination dining room routinely tops Philly’s best of lists; food is in chef/owner Greg Vernick’s genes. His great-grandfather owned a local butcher and market, and that respect for fresh ingredients shows in the inspired American cuisine at Vernick.
2013 Walnut St., vernickphilly.com
The original Philly wine bar, Tria serves 35 wines by the glass broken into categories like zippy reds and lighthearted whites. There’s a divine selection of cheeses and light bites (the Warm Poached Black Mission Figs with Gorgonzola and Prosciutto di Parma is a perennial favorite). If wine’s not your thing — and why wouldn’t it be –—Tria even serves beer.
123 S. 18th St., triaphilly.com
WHAT IT COSTS
$699,000 median sale price for a single family home
$1,830 per month is the average rental price for a one-bedroom apartment
$438,000 median sale price for a single family condo
NEW IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
As part of a citywide hotel boom, construction began last month on the dual-brand W Philadelphia and Element Philadelphia. The building, at 15th and Chestnut streets, will add more than 750 guest rooms to the city’s expanding store of accommodations, and feature dining and retail spaces as well.