The Scoop: One realtor calls it “Lower Italian Market”; another, “Bella Vista South.” A third presents it as “Center City South” to the New York and Center City transplants he’s relocated there in the past year. But if the neighborhood below Washington Avenue and east of Broad Street lacks a proper name, realtors say its potential abounds. “In the last two years, the neighborhood has gone crazy,” says Mark Kreidler, of Century 21 Forrester.
The Scene: Quite a few aluminum awnings and seasonal window displays remain in the largely Italian, traditionally family-oriented neighborhood that is home to two restaurants with opera-singing waiters — along with Ippolito’s fish market, the elegant BYOB August, and quirky local brunch spot Carman’s Country Kitchen.
Who’s There: Drawn by reasonable prices, outdoor space and extra bedrooms, a recent influx of young couples, gay and straight, is rapidly updating the century-old rowhomes. Many of those buyers are finding a surprising amount of original detail (or, say, a wine press) inside properties that were often handed down by families who knew how to do their own carpentry.
The Cost: Prices jumped 30 percent in the past year. Some recent listings:
1213 Dickinson Street, $229,000. Three-bedroom, 1.5-bath estate sale with 1920s metal cabinets and cool-but-kitschy vinyl banquet; roomy and in good shape, with original woodwork.
1526 South Clarion Street, $179,000. Small but renovated 2.5 bedroom, with one bath, living room-dining room combo, and small patio.
1523 South 13th Street, $295,000. Six-bedroom, one-bath, 1,800-square-foot home with oak floors, crown moldings, large yard, and wine cellar in basement.
Inside buyer info: The steals are dwindling, but there are still deals to be had. Your best value, notes Stephen Savitz, of APM Realty, is in retro homes that need some updating, as opposed to major rehabbing. Mario Tropea Jr., of Spectrum Realty, says the safest bets are priced at or below $250,000; a variety of new luxury residences going up in the area, including one on Washington Avenue, combined with Center City competition, could make the higher brackets tight once interest rates dip. His other advice? “Bid about six to eight percent below asking price.”