It’s known as the “donut hole” community – one of the last areas in or adjacent to Center City that hasn’t been built up or snatched by developers. It’s Callowhill, and its future is being shaped as we speak. You might not know it as Callowhill, as it also claims the names Chinatown North and Spring Arts, the latter being a label that some are trying to use as evidence of the neighborhood’s transformation. It consists of 1.7 square miles, bordered by Vine, Spring Garden, Eighth, and Broad Streets, and where empty factories and rundown used car lots once sat there are now soaring loft apartments, craft breweries, and hip eateries, many of which are splashed by colorful murals. The gem at the heart of the neighborhood is the raised viaduct park, which has been long in the works and is finally due to be completed next year.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Callowhill is different from other changing neighborhoods because it doesn’t have a large swath of established residents. Instead, developers have scooped up dozens of parcels to bring in people to live and do business. For their part, Chinese community leaders see the area as an important extension of Chinatown.”
Recent immigrants who sought out the neighborhood as an affordable place to live may soon find themselves at odds with those set on gentrifying Callowhill in much of the same way that other Center City neighborhoods have been. With luxe housing and all the trappings of an upscale community rising among them, new arrivals may soon find themselves priced out of Callowhill.
The Inquirer mentioned that a lot of Callowhill’s new arrivals are members of the Philadelphia LGBTQ community, “including the head of the city’s Independence Business Alliance, an executive at the Mann Music Center, a conductor, a well-known performance artist, and a retail executive.” Philadelphia is known as being an extremely open-minded city, and the demographics of this up-and-coming neighborhood are more proof of that.