Some of Philadelphia’s hottest new neighborhoods are ones that were, in years past, virtually untouched due to blight and crime. As prices in the highly-desirable Center City skyrocket, new residents are beginning to flock to the neighborhoods bordering downtown and creating gentrified areas. Is the gentrification exciting or worrying? It depends on who you ask. According to a Philadelphia Inquirer analysis of Drexel University economist Kevin Gillen’s data, “the 19137 zip code ― home to Bridesburg and the northern part of Port Richmond in the River Wards section ― has seen the greatest increase in the number of home sales in the last year, jumping 43 percent from 98 sales between July 2015 and June 2016 to 140 sales during the same period this year.”
A Bridesburg-based real estate agent, Gary Dydak, referred to the neighborhood as a “hot commodity.” For decades, the 19137 zip code has been home to a largely Polish-based middle class. Now, that is giving way as younger, richer residents are moving in. Older, affordable homes are being renovated, and developers are throwing up one or two new homes on every spare piece of land they can acquire. The overall effect is one of gentrification. Joseph Slabinski, president of the Bridesburg Community Development Corp., says that these new homes are selling for upwards of $200,000, an anomaly in a neighborhood where the median home price is $130,000.
As prices soar, the question remains as to what this gentrification means for lower-income residents. They have long been priced out of Center City, and with areas like Brideburg, Port Richmond, and Strawberry Mansion quickly soaring in price, many can no longer afford to live in these areas which were once considered affordable. “Development is happening” Christopher Baker, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Preferred, told the Inquirer. “The push went from Rittenhouse Square to Graduate Hospital to Point Breeze. It typically does not skip a neighborhood, and it’s expanding outward from the city.” Baker confirmed that he is seeing more and more buyers looking for affordable places to live, and that it is becoming more of a challenge to find these places for them.