Of all of Philadelphia’s up-and-coming neighborhoods, none has received more buzz recently than Point Breeze. It started in 2016 when RealtyTrac looked at “rough-and-tumble neighborhoods on the rebound” and Point Breeze came in at number five in the nation. Then earlier this year, Zillow named Point Breeze Philly’s hottest housing market and Redfin ranked it third in the city.
What’s driving the frenzy for the neighborhood extending from Broad to 25th and Washington to Mifflin, which many buyers gave a wide berth a few years ago? John Longacre, developer and owner of three neighborhood bar/restaurants says it’s the uptick in amenities.
Longacre was drawn to Point Breeze more than 15 years ago. As an intern in Mayor Rendell’s administration, he learned that “economic development is the engine that can rebuild a city.” Armed with a degree in economics from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, he began to look at the neighborhood from a sociological perspective. “It had great characteristics that should make it viable,” he says, “dense population, great housing stock, proximity to the central business district, multiple commercial corridors, and easy access to multiple forms of public transportation and highway arteries. These are all macroeconomic characteristics most neighborhoods would kill to have and yet it was extraordinarily disinvested.” He wondered how it could have all that and still be so blighted, then realized that what was missing were amenities. “Someone could build shiny new boxes all over the place,” he explains “but to thrive, a neighborhood needs amenities.”
Longacre saw an opportunity to help revitalize Point Breeze. With the idea that he would only take over derelict businesses and practice adaptive reuse and infill development so as not to displace anyone, Longacre began by opening South Philadelphia Tap Room. American Sardine Bar, Newbold Brew and Second District Brewing followed. He also formed the Newbold Community Development Corporation (Newbold, aka East Point Breeze, extends from Broad to 18th) and held real estate agent lunches every week at South Philly Tap Room to try to get agents to bring buyers to the neighborhood.
Another factor in revitalizing the area has been a substantial increase in residential development, with vacant properties replaced with new townhouses which sell for upwards of $450,000. Realtor James Price compares Point Breeze to Graduate Hospital five to 10 years ago. Like that neighborhood, it is easily accessible on foot, bike or public transit to Center City. Unlike Grad Hospital, however, what makes Point Breeze so attractive to first-time buyers, he explains, is that houses are mostly priced at below the $424,500 cut-off for a conventional loan, meaning that buyers can put down as little as 5 percent. “For someone looking for starter house — especially a new house — near Center City, the only option is Point Breeze. You can buy a $350,000 home here with roughly $15,000 in cash.”
Today, Longacre barely recognizes the neighborhood he helped transform. “When we opened South Philly Tap Room,” he recalls, “when we saw someone walking down our street, we knew they were a customer.” Now neighbors pack “clean, tree-lined streets which used to be littered with trash. Homeowners care about their houses and their neighborhood.”
ON THE MARKET
2027 Gerritt St.
3 bedrooms, 3 baths
Where else can you find a brand new home — with three bedrooms and three full baths no less — within walking distance of Center City for this price? This 2,300-square-foot home has all the amenities you would expect from new construction: a gourmet kitchen with stainless appliances and a wine fridge; stylish baths; a fireplace; a wet bar off the master bedroom complete with beverage center; a full home sprinkler system; and, yes, a 10-year tax abatement. Did we mention the skyline views from the roof deck? It’s a little bit of luxury in up-and-coming Point Breeze.
Contact: Rodney Mazzoni, DJCRE Inc. 609-280-4004, firstname.lastname@example.org
1529 S. Colorado St.
$1,675 per month
2 bedrooms, 2 baths
This beautifully rehabbed townhome is smack in the middle of East Point Breeze (aka Newbold)! Tastefully redone from top to bottom, this home features hardwood floors throughout; central air and heating; brand new stainless steel appliances and tons of cabinet storage in the kitchen; and a large backyard (perfect for the warm summer months). Upstairs are two spacious bedrooms, one with a gorgeous en-suite bathroom, and a washer/dryer in the basement. Move in Aug. 1, 2017.
Contact: W. James “Jim” Comly, Coldwell Banker Preferred, 215-546-2700, email@example.com
Second District Brewing
Tucked into tiny Bancroft Street, Second District Brewing blends inventive ingredients to produce unique beers like Meta Shepherd, a “weird and wonderful” smoked porter conditioned on pineapple puree with “notes of campfire and Hawaiian BBQ.” Pair your beer with one of the yummy snacks or sandwiches, or indulge your sweet tooth with the Beeramisu — layers of Vietnamese Coffee Stout-soaked lady fingers, sweet mascarpone, crushed espresso beans and whipped cream.
1939 S. Bancroft St., seconddistrictbrewing.com
Burg’s Hideaway Lounge
A blast from the past, Burg’s Hideaway Lounge is developer Ori Feibush’s reimagined corner bar in the former Buckminster’s space. Burg’s harks back to 1970s cocktail lounges (there are even period game shows on the television). Pair your cheeseburger with a manhattan or bloody murray (a twist on the classic with pastrami-smoked salmon) and you’ll feel right at home in this cozy new neighborhood fave.
1200 S. 21st St., 215-271-6627
WHAT IT COSTS
$344,900 median sale price for a 3 bedroom/2 bath home
$1,600 per month median rental price for a 2 bedroom/2 bath home
New in the neighborhood:
On Saturday, June 17, stop by the 1900 block of South Bancroft Street for The Newbold Blues Festival, a music, barbecue and craft beer street party. Five performances feature blues, rock, funk and soul bands, and food will be provided by neighborhood restaurants. While kids try their hand at woodworking activities, grownups can browse art vendors and enjoy sample brews from Brewery ARS, Nodding Head Brewery, Point Breeze Brewing, Second District Brewing and Manatawny Still Works. Proceeds support Newbold CDC’s Neighborhood Greening Program.