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Realtor Q&A: Where to Live in the City if You Want Neighborhood Charm

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Racheal Grazias

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Racheal Grazias

We’ve already filled you in on the ultimate suburb for city people (hint: it’s Ambler), but what about a city area that boasts the residential feel of the suburbs? Graduate Hospital is a perfectly charming neighborhood that’s adjacent to Rittenhouse, touting easy accessibility while still holding onto its old-world quirks (think: plenty of side streets and smatterings of cobblestone).

To get the scoop on this best-of-both-worlds Philly enclave, we spoke with two local Coldwell Banker Preferred affiliated sales associates who gave us a crash course on the what’s what in G-Ho.

First things first, what are the differences from super-central Center City living? What pros and cons should homebuyers know?

Holly Mack-Ward: While there’s still a growing number of restaurants, bars and coffee shops opening in the neighborhood, it is still mainly a residential area—which could be a pro or a con, depending on who you ask. You can’t get everything you need within a one-block radius like you can in Rittenhouse, but the trade-off is that it’s quieter and has more of a community feel.

Jordan Brody: While prices have gone up, you tend to get more for your money. [There are usually] larger homes and more single families. Plus, most have outdoor space and some have dedicated parking while still being very accessible to Center City.

[The cons are that there are] fewer parks, recreation and less to do in the neighborhood. If you don’t have dedicated parking, street parking can be difficult and there are fewer lots to park in, too.

So, who is moving to Graduate Hospital? Families, retirees, couples?

Mack-Ward: There is a mix of people moving to Graduate Hospital: some retirees and lots of DINKs (Dual Income No Kids), some of whom intend to have kids and stay long-term and others who see it as a starting point for an eventual move outside of the city, or at least Center City.

In that case, are you expecting more happy hour culture or play dates for little ones?

Mack-Ward: Both! As more families decide to stay in the city as opposed to moving to the suburbs, there has been a very visible shift in demographics—you could call it “stroller culture”—and these are parents who often want to have a drink during the play date.

What’s the food scene like? Where do locals congregate?

Brody: Definitely getting better! There are more choices on Washington Avenue and throughout the neighborhood and across Washington in Point Breeze, but the vast majority are north in Rittenhouse Square and Center City and East in Passyunk Square, Bella Vista and Queen Village.

Mack-Ward: There are definitely a lot of good options, like Sidecar, Grace Tavern, Café Ynez and Los Camaradas, along with all the Broad-to-bridge South Street options, from Jamaican Jerk Hut and the Cambridge to Ants Pants and Honey’s.

Is there a community watering hole — coffee shop or bar?

Mack-Ward: There’s the legendary Bob & Barbara’s, and more recently opened coffee shops like Ultimo and Gold Standard.

Brody: South Street or Sidecar!

What’s the average price range for homes in the area?

Mack-Ward: Single family homes are anywhere from about $250,000 for a small two-story rowhome to well into the $600s and up for larger new construction houses. There are also a lot of condo options, from under $200,000 for a modest unit in a converted rowhome to $500,000 and up for a large unit with parking at Naval Square.

What neighborhood events are there? Are they more adult-oriented or for children?

Mack-Ward: There are a lot of strong block associations, so the block parties are impressive—lots of moon bounces in the summertime! South Street is always good for a festival—there’s Oktoberfest, the long-running Odunde Festival in June and other occasional one-off festivals, as well as the Horticultural Society’s super-popular pop-up garden. All of these are geared towards everyone but more kid-oriented during the day.

What kinds and styles of homes should potential buyers expect?

Brody: [You’ll find] two- and three-story brick homes, converted brownstones along Christian and new construction (both two- and three-story, with and without parking). 

What are G-Ho’s most defining features?

Mack-Ward: Graduate Hospital is all about location; its proximity to Rittenhouse Square and the rest of Center City can’t be beat. And while there’s been a ton of new construction in recent years, there’s still a lot of charm and character and even some cobblestone left. Charming little streets like Saint Albans and Madison Square—a garden block with only pedestrian through-traffic—are sprinkled between the larger “main” streets.

For more information about buying or selling a home in the communities of the Greater Philadelphia area and the Delaware Valley, including southern New Jersey and northern Delaware, visit Coldwell Banker Preferred online at www.ColdwellBankerHomes.com

This interview has been condensed and edited for length.