One of Philadelphia’s most livable neighborhoods, charming Fairmount has a storied history. Once a rural riverside suburb where prominent 18th-century Philadelphians retreated to their country estates, the area gave way to industrialization by the 19th century. Factories, breweries and foundries moved in, and with them came workers who lived in the row homes and townhouses that are today emblematic of the neighborhood.
Stretching from Spring Garden to Girard and Broad Street to the Schuylkill River, Fairmount is ideally located to give residents the best of city living. “Fairmounters” – a mix of young families, single professionals and lifelong residents whose neighborhood ties extend back for generations – have everything they need just steps from home. Realtor James Price of Keller Williams Center City Realty says Fairmount “has so much to offer in terms of dining and nightlife that many residents don't need or want to trek to Center City.” Great bars and restaurants like Umai Umai (for sushi) and A Mano (for housemade pasta) make dining out convenient. Opportunities for recreation abound: hikers take to trails in Fairmount Park; bikers and runners enjoy Kelly Drive; and rowers in sculls glide gracefully along the Schuylkill River. For commuters, the neighborhood also provides easy access to I-76 and I-676.
A favorite of tourists as well, Fairmount boasts plenty of attractions. Many of those 18th-century country retreats are now open to visitors and are especially festive in December when decorated for the annual holiday house tour. Nearby, Eastern State Penitentiary, which once housed notorious criminals like Al Capone, is one of the city’s most offbeat destinations; each October sees its cell blocks transformed into a haunted house with the popular “Terror Behind the Walls.” Sometimes called the Art Museum Area, the neighborhood is also home to the Philadelphia Museum of Art – situated on the original “Fairmount” – Rodin Museum and Barnes Foundation.
“Like almost every neighborhood bordering Center City,” says Price, Fairmount is on the upswing” and the real estate market reflects that. “Any home that is priced at market value is selling in a matter of days, usually with multiple escalating offers, especially those homes that are turn-key and don't require updates.”
With median home prices coming in at over half a million dollars, it will cost you to live in this sought-after neighborhood. Home buyers who find Fairmount too pricey for their budgets should take heart however: “Fairmount has expanded so much that neighboring Brewerytown and Francisville are seeing large increases in real estate values,” says Price. “These neighborhoods offer access to the many benefits of Fairmount, and have the added advantage of tax abatements still occasionally on offer. Many believe this is where you'll find the most value and return on your investment in the northwest part of greater Center City.”
ON THE MARKET
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754 N. 24th St.
3 bedrooms, 3 full and 2 partial baths
A pristine example of contemporary design and urban living, this home oozes quality at every turn. From the five-foot wide white oak floors throughout the entire home to the custom bespoke cabinetry in the kitchen and baths, this is a quality renovation. The master suite has ample closets and a large ensuite bath with custom dual vanity, frameless glass shower and heated floor. An additional bedroom suite features exposed brick, original beams, exposed ductwork and its own full bath. A large backyard with electrical and water is ready for outdoor entertaining.
Contact: Leon Aksman "Mr.Brickhouse,” Plumer & Associates, Inc., (215) 922-4200
2401 Pennsylvania Ave., #10A12
1 bedroom, 1 bath
This 10th-floor unit in The Philadelphian features hardwood floors, a beautiful kitchen with updated appliances, a spacious living/dining space and separate bedroom area. The large wall of windows and sliding glass door ensures ample natural light throughout and the balcony overlooking the Philadelphia Museum of Art has lots of room for outdoor enjoyment. The Philadelphian is a full service building and amenities include a 24-hour doorman, maintenance and private shuttle to and from Center City. Indoor/Outdoor pools, a fitness center and parking are all available for an extra fee.
Contact: Sean Kaplan, BHHS Fox & Roach-Center City Walnut, (215) 521-1627, email@example.com
Grab a table across from the famed Eastern State Penitentiary and soak in the ambience – original mahogany interior, wood plank floors and even a fire pole – at this former 19th-century firehouse. Known for its southern favorites (don’t miss the ribs) and sensational brunch menu, this longtime neighborhood stalwart also has a buzzy bar scene and frequent live music.
2130 Fairmount Ave. www.jacksfirehouse.com
Helmed by co-owners Chef Michael McNally and Terry Berch McNally, London Grill has been a favorite gathering place for locals and visitors alike since 1991. Stop by the turn-of-the-century barroom for gastropub fare and a terrific selection of craft beers. If you’re feeling more continental, step next door to Paris Wine Bar; London Grill’s sister restaurant is known for pouring local, sustainable wines.
2301 Fairmount Ave. www.londongrill.com
WHAT IT COSTS
$578,000 median sale price for a 3 bedroom/2 bath home single family home
$325,000 median sale price for a 2 bedroom/1 bath condo
$1,750 per month median rental price for a 2 bedroom/1 bath apartment
New in the Neighborhood:
When Whole Foods ditched its first Philly location at 2001 Pennsylvania Avenue to open a megastore a mere block away, some wondered what would become of its former home. The wait is over. Bucking the recent trend of opening mini-stores in urban areas, Target will take over the 38,000+ square-foot space in October.