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Observatory Hill- Pittsburgh’s Highest Point

Observatory Hill or Perry Hilltop was named both in honor of Commodore Perry and the Historic Allegheny Observatory, the City’s first astronomy building gracing the top of Riverview Park. The district also hosts the highest elevation in the City of Pittsburgh at 1,370 feet at the Brashear Reservoir and WPNT-FM  Radio Tower.

This North Hills district has remained a middle class strong hold in the northside and thus retained much of its historic housing and fabric. Riverview Park was a large factor in the neighborhood’s success. Observatory’s urban business district along Perrysville Ave has not fared as well and is littered with vacancies and limited retail amenities. Cultural amenities are also very limited. Building up the Perrysville Avenue business district should be the # 1 revitalization priority for the neighborhood. Secondary priorities include installing bike infrastructure, permanent affordable housing, opening new high quality schools, and improving pedestrian and ADA infrastructure.
Click here to view the full Observatory Hill Album on Flicker

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Convenient access to downtown especially via the car but decent transit and biking routes.
* This is a very diverse neighborhood among all measures.
* Very diverse for-sale price points starting at around 50K for a modest fixture upper to the 200Ks for a large historic home and everything in-between.
* Riverview Park is accessible to all in the neighborhood and holds almost any recreational amenity one needs.
* Overall pretty safe district, although some blight still remains.
* Lots of high quality historic architecture.
* The urban form of the business district is good but very small.
* Great tree cover.

URBAN WEAKNESSES

* Streets generally connect but are very curvilinear due to the district’s extreme terrain.
* Other than bike lanes in Riverview, Bike infrastructure is non-existent.
 * Not a ton of rental product but generally affordable. 1-bedrroms run between $500-$700, 2-bedrooms btwn $700-$1,100, and 3-bedrooms to the low to mid $1,000s.
* One deli and no restaurants or bars.
* Cultural amenities are basically non-existent. One needs to travel several miles south to the Allegheny Commons district and Downtown.
* Low-Medium density.
* Other than a couple convenience stores there is a bank, hair salon, thrift store, but not much else in the way of retail here.
* Perry High School is located here but rated poorly. No other schools within Observatory Hill.
* Most roads host sidewalks and ramps but ADA infrastructure is often missing.
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Marshall-Shadeland, a Northside Pittsburgh Community with great Urban Potential

Marshall-Shadeland is a largely residential area that was annexed by Allegheny City in 1870. Growth followed and the neighborhood filled in by the early 20th century. Most housing was constructed for workers but some larger homes reside along Brighton and Woodland along with 1920s and 1930s in-fill in the north edge of the district. Decline probably began shortly after WWII and accelerated in the 70s and 80s.

Fortunately much of the urban fabric remains and there is hope that the district will once again become a thriving urban community given its convenient access to downtown and proximity to other stable districts (i.e. Brighton Heights, Mexicantown, West Allegheny, and increasingly Manchester). Recent renovations have occurred resulting in home sales in the 100Ks. Yet much blight remains and there is a lack of neighborhood retail and cultural amenities.

Click here to view the entire Marshal-Shadeland Album on my Flickr Page.

URBAN STRENGTHS

* Good access to downtown vial all modes of transportation.
* While there are no bike stations here dedicated bike lanes run down Brighton Rd and along the river.
* Great generational and ethnic diversity here.
* Fair amount of rental product at moderate prices. 1-bedrooms go for around $600-$800 and 2 & 3-bedrooms between $900-$1,100.
*For sale housing is very affordable with prices ranging anywhere from 30K to 180K depending on size and quality.
* Decent park amenities including two ballfields, a parkette, several cemeteries, and decent access to Riverview Park.
* Because of the hills and ravines there is overall great tree canopy. The neighborhood could use more street trees however.
* What does exist of Marshall-Shadeland’s business district (node at Marshall and Woods Run) is pretty urban. But its rough and there the streetscape is lackluster.

URBAN WEAKNESSES

* Some economic diversity, but pretty low-income area.
* Lots of vacancies throughout district.
* There is still a perception of crime here.
* Some retail amenities including a Kuhn’s Supermarket, Dollar Store, Wine & Spirits, a Café-restaurant, and several low key restaurants and bars.
* Very little nightlife in the district other than a couple restaurants and bars but Marshall-Shadeland does have convenient access to other vibrant areas such in the northside (Mexican War Street, West Allegheny, etc.).
* Even with some recent revitalization successes Marshall-Shadeland still retains a pretty negative perception.
* ADA is a mixed-bag here. The main streets and flat areas are well served by ADA infrastructure. Hilly and more obscure streets often have limited ADA or no sidewalks.
* A couple specialty schools within the district but nothing else. Several schools lie in adjacent districts but generally not well rated.
* Really no cultural amenities within Marshall-Shadeland but convenient access to what lies in West Allegheny and Mexicantown districts.
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Spring Hill- One of Pittsburgh’s Great “View” Neighborhoods

Spring Hill was named for the abundance of springs near the site. Germans immigrated there from 1850 to 1920, giving the neighborhood a very Bavarian atmosphere reflected in its local streets (i.e. Rhine, Woessner, Haslage, Zoller and Goehring). The population of Spring Hill peak in 1940 around 8,000 and has stabilized down to around 2,500. Spring Hill Garden used to host around 4,000 and now is just under 1,000.

This is a very typical hillside Pittsburgh community, which has seem a drastic population loss but has managed to “right size” through losing population often in the most steep terrain and maintaining generations of families. Spring Hill and Spring Garden are beginning to see modest real estate interest given its close proximity to downtown and other revitalizing communities such as Deutchtown and Mexican War Streets. The old warehouses of Spring Garden are beginning to see new life through modern craft outfits, distilleries, and fitness centers. To elevate this district to a viable urban community continued real estate investment, new bike paths, improved public transit connections, and a walkable neighborhood amenities are needed. But this is certainly possible given the neighborhood’s good urban bones, proximity to downtown, and beautiful views and generous yards.
View the full Flick Albums for Spring Hill and Spring Gardens

URBAN STRENGTHS

* Good access to downtown especially by car, but decent public transit access. One could even walk to downtown in 30-45 minutes if they can handle the terrain. Getting to Oakland is much harder by transit by easy by car.
* All around great diversity in Spring Hill.
* For sale housing is very affordable with prices ranging anywhere from 25K to 150K depending on size and quality.
* Great tree cover thanks to all the steep terrain and hillsides.

URBAN WEAKNESSES

* Very low density for an urban district due to the extreme topography and steep population decline.
* No bike infrastructure across the district.
* Not much rental product in the neighborhood and what exist is very modest.
* There are a couple parks hosting ballfields, playgrounds, and the Lutheran cemetery.
* Sidewalks are often missing and very steep terrain, so ADA infrastructure isn’t great.
* Commercial is very limited (a brewery within the Spring Hill district but some neighborhood amenities existing on Spring Garden Road (i.e. pharmacy, family dollar, some light manufacturing, a cider house, and a couple of bars and restaurants.
* Very limited cultural amenities within the district, but the rich cultural of the northside and downtown is only 2 miles away.
* There is a poorly rated elementary school but not much else. 
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Pittsburgh’s Troy- the Plateau that looks over the City

Originally called the village of New Troy, the neighborhood was originally settled by German immigrants who worked in the mills, tanneries, breweries and railroads that lined the Allegheny river (including the Heinz Ketchup factory). Migration up to Troy Hill began when a Catholic church opened a small cemetery in 1842. Gradually the neighborhood filled in by the early 20th century and remained a stable working class community to the present day.

While Troy Hill lost a significant amount of its historic population, dropping from a historic high of 7,000 to around 2,000, it has retained much of its urban fabric due to the removal of many hillside dwellings and smaller families. The neighborhood has stabilized and seen recent investment with many younger families renovating modest rowhouses. Given the districts incredible access to downtown, the Strip District, and Allegheny Commons, it is a surprise the market has not taken off even more here. Hopefully more and more amenities move to Troy Hill without it becoming too expensive for its current population. The neighborhood is one of the most economically diverse in the City of Pittsburgh.

Click here to view my full Troy Hill album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS

* Pretty easy access to downtown especially for cars, but decent public transit access. Due to the hikes, bike commuting is challenging.
* Housing is pretty affordable here. Most homes selling in the $100s but some outdated product selling between 50-100K and larger resent renovations selling in the 200Ks. 1-bedroom rentals going anywhere between $700-$1,200 and 2-3 bedrooms in the low to mid $1,000s.
* Good recreational amenities with several ballfields, a few playgrounds, and a spray park.
* Streetscape and urban form pretty solid in the heart of Troy Hill along Lowrie St, but pretty weak along Spring Garden Rd. (the district’s northern edge).
* Good tree cover due to the many dense groves along the hill sides. 

URBAN WEAKNESSES
* No bike lanes through the hard of Troy Hill nor any bike stations, but a dedicated lane along 28.
* Culture amenities are decent but not great in Troy Hill. The neighborhood hosts a couple of restaurants, a café, two breweries, and several bars. This is also the home of St. Anthony (the largest collection of relics.
* Some neighborhood retail including several delis, a drug store, a fitness center, and several banks.
* Three schools within or in adjacent districts, but overall low ratings. 

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Lincoln-Lemington- Pittsburgh’s “forgotten” East End Neighborhood

Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar is a predominantly black neighborhood that was majority Caucasian from the 1920s until the 1970s.Sadly the neighborhood fell into decline after its racial transition. What was once a comfortable early 20th century bedroom community with an intact main street now is a half empty with most of its main street erased.

Yet there still are several assets worth mentioning including its attractive early 20th century architecture, good public transit access, short commute to downtown,  quality park amenities, and thick tree canopy. There is much revitalization work needed to make this a viable urban community once more. Given its high home ownership, and the ability to build African-American wealth, this seems like a worth endeavor. 
Click here to view my Lincoln-Lemington album on Flickr.

URBAN STRENGTHS

* Decent public transit access and easy drive to Downtown.
* Good historic architecture. Just not always well maintained.
* Decent park recreation’s with several playgrounds, ballfields, and a recreational center.

URBAN WEAKNESSES

* Not great racial nor economic diversity. Still a high rate of poverty here.
* For-sale housing is depressed but some quality product selling between 50K-75K. Not a ton of rental product but generally a mix of affordable and moderate rental.
* Retail and stores limited to a couple convenience stores, car repair stores, and churches.
* Mediocre ADA infrastructure.
* Very limited cultural amenities.
* Some assemblance remains of the historic urban streetscape along Lincoln Ave but not much is left.
* No walkable schools in Lincoln-Lemington a couple in adjacent districts but not highly rated.
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Morningside- A tight-knit Pittsburgh Community

Morningside development really took off around 1905 with the creation of the Chislett Street trolley line extended from Stanton Avenue into the neighborhood. The community was fully filled in with houses and a  some small commercial district by the 1930s. Morningside first welcome Irish families and eventually large numbers of Italian families ending Pittsburgh’s last wave of Italian immigration in the 1970s.

Morningside never experienced significant crime and blight issues but has seen a resurgence in interest in the past 5-10 years. Buyers are attracted by Morningside’s front porches, tight knit community, historic homes, convenient access, and modest back yards- a premium in the City. Renovated homes are now selling in the high 200Ks-300Ks. Morningside also has quality recreational spaces within the neighborhood and adjacent districts. What is needed for Morningside to transition from a good urban district to a great one is more dedicated retail and entertainment options, some additional multi-family housing , quality walkable schools, and dedicated bike infrastructure.
Click here to view my full album for Morningside in Flickr
URBAN STRENGTHS

* Good access to downtown via decent public transit access and easy driving.
* Great economic and solid age diversity.
* Good price diversity with home ownership ranging from 150K-400K but prices are certainly on the rise.
* Decent ADA infrastructure with curb cuts at every intersection but not always ADA compliant.
* Great historic architecture .
* Residents have great access to several sport complexes, playgrounds, the morning side greenway, and Highland Park is nearby (although hard to access by foot).

URBAN WEAKNESSES

* No dedicated bike infrastructure.
* Rentals are pretty limited but moderately priced. 1-bedrooms going for $800-$1,000 and 2-bedrooms in the low $1,000s.
* No schools within Morningside but a couple decent ones in adjacent neighborhoods.
* Really no modern in-fill in Morningside.
* Some retail exists in Morningside including a cafe, several restaurants & bars, salons, Rite Aid, a daycare facility, and even a specialty fabric store. Most residents are 1 mile from the Bryant commercial district.

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Pittsburgh’s Homewood Neighborhood

Homewood was annexed into the city of Pittsburgh in 1884.The neighborhood started as an area of estates for the wealthy including  Pittsburgh industrialists Andrew Carnegie. By 1910s, Irish, Italian, German, and upper middle class black families moved to Homewood helping create an ethnically diverse neighborhood. At first relations between the white and black residents of Homewood were good, but things become strained In the 1950s when the Lower Hill Urban Renewal project displaced 8,000 people, many of whom ultimately settled in rental apartments in Homewood. White flight ensued as demographics shifted from 22% black in 1950 to 66% black in 1960. The MLK riots of 68′ severely crippling the business district. This was followed by the proliferation of gangs and drugs in the 1970s and 1980s. So yea, Homewood has been through a lot.

The situation appears to have stabilized with crime plateauing. Some investment, mostly driven by government, non-profits, and philanthropy, has led to some new businesses on N. Homewood, new housing, and the Susquehanna job focused renovation. Flippers are also slowly discovering the district’s quality historic architecture and easy access to the East busway with renovated homes selling in the 100Ks. But Homewood still has a long way to go before becomes a viable urban district, requiring a blight and real estate intervention of scale. 
Click here to see my full Homewood photo album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS

* Good access to public transit.
* Lots of families households here.
* Between the many park lets, sport fields, playgrounds, public pool, and a YMCA Homewood has very good recreational amenities.
* Good ADA infrastructure through Homewood.
* Gorgeous historic architecture of various sizes and typologies. Unfortunately much of it is blighted. Some good in-fill especially along Homewood Ave.
* Good tree cover helped by the hills and elevation change.

URBAN WEAKNESSES

* No bike lanes, but several dedicated bike stations.
* Very high poverty rate (around 35%) and some economic diversity especially in the western portions of Homewood.
* Not great racial diversity either.
* For sale product is generally very in expensive. Vacant and blighted property sell below 30K or so. Decent product between 30-85K. Some renovated SF homes selling now in the 100Ks.
* Rentals are also inexpensive, but limited product officially listed. Nice 2-bedrooms go for around $850.
* Not great cultural amenities but some including a mix of several  barbecue and soul food restaurants, dive bars, and the Afro American Music Center.
* Some retail amenities including a bakery, cafe, hardware store, several beauty salons & Barbers, and convenience stores. The Coop and Construction Junction are just south of Homewood.
* Still pretty high crime and lots of blight.
* Westinghouse HS is the only school in the district and not rated well.
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Pittsburgh’s Larimer- A Legacy Neighborhood Poised for Rejuvenation

The neighborhood takes its name from William Larimer, who after making a fortune in the railroad industry, built a manor house overlooking East Liberty. His daughter married a Mellon who eventually sold off the land for real estate speculation. German immigrants came to Larimer in the later half of the 19th century leaving a mark with the still standing St. Peter and Paul gothic church (featured in the Dogma movie).  By the early 1900s Italians from Abruzzi, Calabria, Campania, Sicily and Northern Italians became the dominant ethnic group. These settlers were slightly better-off than their Bloomfield kinsmen and therefore built somewhat nicer detached brick homes with small yards. Larimer was Pittsburgh’s Little Italy until the 1960s when residents began moving to the suburbs and other Pittsburgh neighborhoods (most notably Stanton Heights and Morningside).  Urban renewal efforts in adjacent East Liberty and new housing projects helped accelerate Larimer’s deterioration.

Larimer used to be a thriving, dense community with distinct commercial districts along Larimer Avenue and Lincoln Avenues supplementing the thriving shopping hub of East Liberty. Frankstown and Hamilton Avenues along Larimer’s southern border hosted numerous industrial and warehousing plants. Sadly much of the fabric was removed with the neighborhood’s decline, especially its commercial districts. Larimer used to have a population of around 10,000, which meant a density of 25K per sq mile. Now it sits at around 2,000 souls.

Even with all this deterioration, Larimer has great urban bones. Its sits next to the revitalizing East Liberty complete with new apartments, shopping, and convenient access to the Bus Way. Google has set up shop on Larimer’s southern border creating the Bakery Square development (a mixed of office, apartments, and retail), and entrepreneurs are slowly filling empty warehouses along Hamilton and Frankstown (i.e. Eastend Brewing Company, Absolute Ballroom,  KLVN Coffee Lab, and Red Star Kombucha.) Thus Larimer remains a very walkable and transit rich community. With a robust revitalization strategy, Larimer could easily become a viable urban community.
Click here to view my full Larimer Album on Flickr
URBAN STRENGTHS

* Great public transit and good access to major jobs centers (i.e. downtown, Oakland, and esp. Bakery Square, which resides in Larimer).
* Several bike stations site on Larimer’s southern edge (i.e. Bakery Square) and two dedicated bike lanes run along the district’s edges on Negley Run and E. Liberty Blvds.
* Decent amount of families here and generational diversity.
* Good recreational amenities including the Kingsley Center, several community gardens, playgrounds, and pocket parks.
* Neighborhood amenities are concentrated in Bakery Square and adjacent shopping areas in East Liberty. This includes a target, several grocery stores, several restaurants & cafes, Staples, and several retail stores. This is all within a mile for most residents. Some amenities also opening along Hamilton and Frankstown Rd as warehoused get repurposed (i.e. dance studio, cross training, East End Brewery, auto parts and contracting supply stores).
* Other than a couple art galleries cultural amenities are concentrated in Bakery Square and adjacent East Liberty. 

URBAN WEAKNESSES

* High poverty rate including 1/3 of the population with a AHI of around 35K.
* Listed for-sale product is limited. Generally lower end product but an increasing about of renovated product selling in the 100Ks. Most homes still selling below 100K.
* Significant amount of blight and abandonment remain in the neighborhood. Rental product is very limited. High end units however, are now available across the street from Larimer on Penn Ave.
* Limited racial and economic diversity.
* 2 public schools located within Larimer but not highly rated. Several other schools nearby in adjacent East Liberty, Homewood, and Shadyside with mixed ratings. 
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Edgewood- Pittsburgh’s Illusive, but Exclusive Historic Suburb

This high-end inner ring suburb was incorporated in 1888. The borough slowly grew reaching just over 1,000 souls in 1900 and peaking around 5,000 in 1950. Since then the population has nearly halved sitting at 3,000 residents. Even with loosing this much population you wouldn’t notice it. Edgewood has maintained its historic housing stock, with some of the nicest mansions in the Pittsburgh region. It has convenient access to the Regent Square commercial district, on its western edge, and easy access to Oakland and Downtown via the East Busway.

Even though it sits next to one of the poorest African American Borough’s in the region, Edgewood is mostly wealthy and well off. Diversity is certainly an area for improvement. There are also several mixed-use buildings in the heart of the Borough on Maple Ave that with several new businesses could significantly improve the neighborhood’s walkability. Bike lanes is also something sorely missing here. 

Click here to view my full Edgewood album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS

* Generally pretty good ADA infrastructure but inconsistent.
* Solid public transit and good access to major Pitt job centers.
* Very safe community with low vacancy.
* Great generational diversity, lots of young adults and young families.
* Nice diversity of for-sale product with small homes starting in the mid $100Ks, medium sized homes in the 200Ks& 300Ks and mansions above 400K. Some rentals that are moderately priced… 1 bedrooms lease for $700-$900 and larger house rentals generally in the mid $1,000s.
* Amenity wise Edgewood is served by both Regent Square (historic commercial node with many restaurants, bars, and some nice boutique stores) and Edgewood Town center, which is a auto centric strip mall with a supermarket, pharmacy, banks, and lots of retail. Also a public library and rec center in the heart of Edgewood.

URBAN WEAKNESSES

* Bike infrastructure limited with some lanes on the edge of the borough and no dedicated bike stations.
* Limited racial and economic diversity. Generally well off community with a fair amount of middle class households.
* Only the Koeing Field complex sites within the Borough but convenient access to adjacent 9 mile run, Frick Park, and Whitney Park.
* One solid elementary schools within the Borough, but no other walkable schools.
* Some cultural amenities in Regent square (restaurants, bars, cafes) but not much else.
* 10 minutes from closest hospital but lots of doctor office in Regent Square.
* Other than Edgewood Town Center and some in-fill in Regent Square, not much new construction. 

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Braddock, PA- Pittsburgh’s Rustbelt Poster Child

Braddock is named after General Edward Braddock who led am Expedition in Western PA at this place. The area surrounding Braddock’s Field was originally inhabited by the Lenape, ruled by Queen Aliquippa (a  friend of George Washington). Nearby in Turtle Creek, the first permanent English settlement was established west of the Allegheny Mountains In 1742.  Braddock’s first industrial facility, a barrel plant, opened in 1850 and the borough incorporated in 1867. The town’s industrial economy began in 1873, when Andrew Carnegie built the Edgar Thomson Steel Works on the historic site of Braddock’s Field. Braddock is also the location of Carnegie’s first public library. Braddock lost its importance with the collapse of the steel industry in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s and was brought to its knees by the crack cocaine epidemic of the early 1980s.

Braddock is the most extreme case of industrial decline in Pittsburgh, which is probably why it’s the poster child for the rust-belt in Pittsburgh. The town reached a population high of 21,000 in 1920s and  now hosts  just over 2,000 souls. Population decline significantly picked up after WWII. Yet Braddock still has good bones with a comfortable street grid, high quality public transit, and good access to downtown. The recent Braddock “resurgence” shepherded by former mayor John Fetterman and restaurateur Kevin Sousa have returned Braddock to the spotlight and helped spur a mini resurgence with new restaurants, bars, cafes, vintage shops and interest for local non-profits. But Braddock really needs people to return, and in the thousands, for this to once again be a viable urban district.
Click here to view my Braddock album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS

* Great generational diversity.
* Solid public transit access and very connected street grid. Braddock has the bones of a highly walk-able community.
* Braddock’s resurgence is being led by several new restaurants, bars, cafes, and breweries. Braddock has gained regional attention by several well know restaurateurs, local foundations, and community groups. But still a very long way to go. This resurgence is also attracting hip clothing, and vintage antique and restoration stores augmenting the remaining wholesaling stores, dollar store, beautiful Carnegie library, and post office.
* Good amount of tree canopy.

URBAN WEAKNESSES

* Very high poverty (30%) and some racial diversity.
* Very depressed for-sale market. Very little sells above 50K. Not a ton of rental product but very affordable. 2-bedrooms generally go for between $700-$800.
* Very limited parks space with Braddock, the only “official park” is the Verona Street Park.
* No supermarket or drug stores. The nearest hospital is a 10 min drive in McKeesport.
* Only two schools within Braddock and poorly rated.
* Sidewalks and curb cuts are common but in rough shape. Very few ADA compliant curbs. 
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Munhall, PA a Middle-Class Haven with Convenient Access to Downtown Pittsburgh

A large portion of the Homestead Works existed in Munhall. The borough was in 1901, out of a part of Mifflin Township. Its most noted landmark is the  Homestead Library  donated by Andrew Carnegie in 1896. Development picked up in Munhall in the late 1800s to early 1900s with the building of the northern half of Munhall closest to the Monongahela River and Homestead. The southern half of Munhall was developed between 1910s to the 1950s. Munhall’s population peaked at around 17,000 in 1960 and has slowly declined to its current population of 11,000 souls.

Munhall is an inner ring suburb attractive to middle income families desiring to purchase an affordable house with some walkability, convenient “driving” access to the expansive Waterfront Lifestyle shopping center and close proximity to Downtown Pittsburgh. Main Street is the north to south spine that runs along the Ridge and provides a moderate level of neighborhood retail and amenities. Not much in the way of cultural amenities within Munhall, but easy access to adjacent Homestead where recent reinvestment to its historic Downtown along 8th Street is bringing many new restaurants bars, art galleries, and nightlife options.

Additional medium density mixed-use  in-fill along Main Street would go a long way to increasing vibrancy in Munhall and helping to stabilize its population. Not much else can be done to increase urbanity here unless the borough completely rewrites its zoning codes and the Port Authority brought better transit service to the community.

Click here to view my full Munhall album on Flickr.

URBAN STRENGTHS

* Good access to downtown via driving and even decent commute biking (using the Allegheny Passage Trail).
* Very low crime rate.
* Recreation in Munhall consists of several sport field clusters around Munhall schools and several more traditional parks near the Homestead Carnegie Library.
* Great Tree Cover.
* Munhall hosts some “light” retail along its traditional Main Street (drug store, banks, restaurants, bars, liquor store, flower shop, barbershops, nail salons, and a post office). The bulk of its retail are located in the brownfield redevelopment, the Waterfront straddling the border of Munhall and Homestead. While a very auto oriented shopping center it includes several supermarkets, Target, Lowes, Dicks, and many retail chain stores.
* Several medium to well rated schools within Munhall that are pretty walkable. 

URBAN WEAKNESSES

* Sub par public transit for an inner ring suburb, although the north half of Munhall is served well.
* Because of the very hilly terrain, about 1/4 of residential streets don’t have sidewalks. Even the traditional business district running along Main St. generally doesn’t have ADA compliant ramps.
* Bike infrastructure limited to the Allegheny Passage Trail running along the Mon River.
* Not a ton of rental product, but generally in the lower moderate range. The limited 1-bedroom product rents between $500-$800. 2-bedrooms around $850. And whole houses anywhere from $1,000 to $1,600. Higher prices in south Munhall.
* For sale prices are very moderate ranging anywhere from 50K to 200K.
* Cultural amenities consist of only a handful of American restaurants and bars. But Munhall has convenient access to Homestead which hosts more diverse cultural amenities including a cineplex.
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Brentwood- A Pleasant Pittsburgh Suburb close to Downtown

Brentwood is an inner ring suburb located on the southern border of Pittsburgh. Development began around 1910 and the Borough grew to about 8,000 residents by WWII. The Borough continued to grow after the war reaching a peak of 14,000 in 1970. Since then Brentwood has lost about a quarter of its peak population and now sits just above 9,000 souls. Even so, this is a relatively health community for Pittsburgh standards with limited blight and vacancy.

Brentwood’s moderate density, transit connectivity, and urban main street along Brownsville road have created a fairly desirable urban community for individuals desiring some walkability, convenient access to downtown, while still retaining a good sized yard. Other positives are its solid schools and low crime rates. For Pittsburgh standards, Brentwood is also seeing a growing Nepalese population evident by several Nepalese run restaurants emerging along Saw Mill Road.

The largest areas to improve the urbanity of Brentwood includes new mixed-use infill along Brownsville Road, additional recreational amenities, and dedicated bike lanes running along Brownsville Road. Not much else that can be done given the borough’s hilly terrain and auto centric commercial thoroughfare running along Saw Mill Road. 
Click here to view all Brentwood photos on my Flicker page

URBAN STRENGTHS

* Very safe community.
* Decent public transit access, and good access to downtown.
* For sale housing is pretty affordable but decent price and size variety. Most product sells in the $100Ks but a fair amount below 100K and in the 200Ks.
* Pretty good neighborhood amenities (although most of located on Saw Mill or in the Brentwood Towne Square shopping center). Brentwood hosts a supermarket, several banks, several pharmacies, plenty of salons, cafes, and a good amount of boutiques

URBAN WEAKNESSES

* Because of the very hilly terrain, about 1/3 of residential streets don’t have sidewalks. ADA compliant curbs are reserved for Brownsville (the main traditional business district).
* Saw Mill Run is completely auto centric and hosts many of Brentwood’s businesses.
* Not a ton of rental product, but generally in the lower moderate range. The limited 1-bedroom product rents between $500-$750. 2-bedrooms for $800-$1,000. And whole houses generally in the low to mid $1,000s.
* Only one park in the Brentwood (Brentwood) park. It is a large park with lots of amenities (including a rec center) and fortunately is pretty centrally located in the borough.
* Cultural amenities limited to restaurants and bars. Some diversity added with several Nepalese restaurants.
* Solid school options for K-12 and generally walkable. 

Swissvale, Pennsylvania- part of the Pittsburgh Region

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Swissvale is named after the Swisshelm family, who owned a farm where the town is located. Jane Swisshelm became a noted abolitionist and political activist. The family settled here in the late 1700s. Widespread development did not come to Swissvale until the early 1900s with the industrialization of the Borough. The Population peaked at 16,500 in 1950 and rapidly declined. There are now approximately 8,500 residents here, but signs are positive that the population is stabilizing.

Swissvale has a lot of good things going for it from an urban perspective. It’s located at the end of the Pittsburgh East Busway, providing convenient access to downtown. Regent Square and Frick Park are nearby as well. Swissvale still retains much of its housing stock and traditional main street, which is centered around a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) stop.

There are signs that investment is picking up in Swissvalle, especially in the western and more stabilized western half of the borough. Increased targeted investment in the urban commercial district would go a long way towards making this a quality urban district.

Click here to view my Swisshelm Flickr Album
URBAN STRENGTHS

* Solid public transit access throughout most of Swissvale. And good access to Downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland.
* Excellent economic and generational diversity and decent racial and diversity.
* Great range of for sale housing starting at around 40K for the rougher product to 300K for the best housing in the most stable streets. Rentals are on the cheap side with 1-bedrooms ranging from $500-$800 and 2-bedrooms anywhere from $800-$1,300. Lots of rental product.
* While set in a strip mark, the Edgewood Shopping Center provides residents lots of important neighborhood amenities (i.e. Liquor store, Supermarket, clothing stores, banks, etc.). In the traditional main streets along  Monongahela and Noble St there are some neighborhood shops, cafes, restaurants, some boutiques, churches, and the public library.  

URBAN WEAKNESSES

* Recreational amenities can be limited depending on where you live. Residents in Swisshelm and the western edge of Swissvale have great access to 9 mile run and Frick Park but only 3 other small parks throughout.
* Cultural amenities pretty limited. There are some restaurants, bars, and cafes but not theaters or museums. One is about a mile though from Regent Square, which hosts many restaurants, bars, and cafes.
* A fair amount of blight and vacancy still exists throughout.
* Several walkable schools within Swisshelm but generally poor ratings.
* ADA infrastructure is a mixed bag. Generally there are curb cuts, but often not ADA compliant infrastructure.
* Not much modern architecture, and what does exist is pretty suburban.
Featured

Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield-Friendship Neighborhood

Bloomfield is referred by many locals as Pittsburgh’s Little Italy as it was settled by Italians from the Abruzzi region of Italy and has been a center of Italian-American population for many decades. Friendship is small adjacent district of large Victorian houses in the East End.

In 1868 Bloomfield and Friendship were annexed by the City of Pittsburgh. Development started more or less from west to east with narrow lot row-houses between the 1870s and 1890s. By the 1890s, the trolley extended to Friendship via Baum Boulevard and large square homes designed for professional-class families were constructed in Edwardian and Victorian styles. 

By the 1960s, many prominent families in Friendship moved to the suburbs repulsed by the construction of massive housing projects in nearby Garfield and misguided urban renewal in East Liberty. Zoning changes in the 1950s allowed landlords to subdivide these massive Victorian houses beauties into multi-unit apartments, and by the 1980s, over 70% of the housing stock were rentals. Bloomfield remained a solid working class neighborhood holding on to its Italian heritage.

Recently, the neighborhood has become an attractive place to buy or rent bolstered by the general gentrification of the East End and housing prices continue to steadily climb with more diverse residents. With great access to downtown, public transportation, neighborhood amenities, restaurants/bars, attractive historic homes, and proximity to other great East End neighborhoods like Oakland, East Liberty, Lawrenceville, and Shadyside; its no wonder that Bloomfield-Friendship has become such an in-demand location.

The Bloomfield-Friendship neighborhood is bordered by Penn Avenue to the north, Negley to the east, Baum to the south, and the Bloomfield Bridge/40th Street to the West. Friendship is a smaller sub-neighborhood that became an official City designated neighborhood in recent history. This is the area between Aiken-Negley and Penn-Liberty-Baum. 

Click here to view my Bloomfield photo album & here for my Friendship Albums on Flicker
URBAN STRENGHTHS

* Very good bike infrastructure, public
 transportation, and access to Pittsburgh’s 2 largest employment centers: Downtown and Oakland.
* For sale prices heating up in neighborhood but still plentiful housing options available for 200-350K and still slightly below national median levels. 350K-500K large homes available in Friendship. Rental prices also very reasonable. 1-bedrooms can be found for 600-1,300. 2-bedrooms in the 1,000s.
* Great access to many smaller parks, playgrounds, City pool, and Historic Allegheny Cemetery.
* Culturally, good access to diverse restaurants, bars, many art galleries along Penn Avenue. Also within walking distance to several other solid commercial districts… East Liberty and Ellsworth, Highland, and Walnut in Shadyside.
* Very good access to retail, restaurants/bars, grocery stores, etc. at 3 businesses districts (Liberty, Penn, and Baum/Center). 

URBAN WEAKNESSES

* Tree cover great between Gross and Negley, but pretty sparse west of
Gross St.
* Some sections of Liberty and Baum are pretty auto centric. Sections of Penn Avenue and Liberty can feel pretty dead at night. 
* Racial diversity is ok but over 65% of residents are white. Also percentage of family households are much lower than the average in Pittsburgh.

North Capitol Hill, Denver- Part Downtown and Part Urban Neighborhood

North Capitol Park is often referred to as Uptown. This district along with Capitol Hill was one of the first neighborhoods where the wealthy of the City settled in the 1870s and 1880s. But similar to Capitol Hill it experienced a downturn after WWII and many historic homes where either demolished or converted into rentals. The edge of the district near Dwtn also got more or less incorporated in the  CBD with some office buildings but also a lot of surface parking lots and underutilized space.

Currently, North Capitol Park is undergoing significant redevelopment and gentrification, with many young residents and transplants moving here. This is largely due to its proximity to Dwtn, walkability, and significant cultural amenities and night life.

For North Capitol Park to become a great neighborhood lots of in-fill development is needed in the western half of the district. Because of all the surface parking lots here it lacks great urban cohesion. Parks of Colfax Avenue are also pretty auto centric. The district also needs more parks and trees.

Click here to view my North Capitol Hill Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Great urban density.
* Walkable access to Dwtn. Also great transit service and bike infrastructure here.
* Good but not great ADA infrastructure as many curbs are missing modern ADA cuts.
* Pretty good access to walkable schools within or near North Capitol Park. Generally good ratings.
* Hsg on the pricey but a ton of moderately price condos. 1 beds sell anywhere btwn 300K-600K, 2-beds 350K-1M, 3 & 4 beds btwn 500-1.3M with condos being on the cheaper end.
* Tons of rentals and comparatively moderately priced comparted to other Denver neighborhoods. Studios 1-beds lease anywhere in the 1Ks, 2-beds 1.5K to 3K, 3-beds are limited. It seems there are a good amount of affordable hsg here.
* Great cultural amenities including many restaurants, bars, nightclubs & cafes. Also several art galleries, a couple live music venues,. Also great access to all the many cultural assets Dwtn and in the Golden Triangle.
* Good retail amenities including several gourmet super markets, a home depot a couple drug stores, some boutiques , home good and creative stores, tons of banks, a bookstore, several desserts shops & gyms, and plenty of churches. Also walkable access to the many retail options along 16th street (Dwtn) including a Target.
* Nice historic homes on the eastern half of the district. Some very spectacular bldg.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Generally a safe area. Some sketchy stretches along Colfax and some lingering crime issues.
* Park Amenities are limited to the small Benedict Fountain Park and Civic Center Plaza.
* Ok tree canopy better on the eastern half.
* Good # of surface parking lots, esp. on the western half close to dwtn.  Weird mix of infill, historic bldgs and parking lots here.
* Colfax avenue is a mix of good and poor urban form.

City Park West- Located just West of Denver’s Premiere Urban Park

City Park West is name altered Denver’s City Park, which sits immediately east of the neighborhood. The Park was laid out in the late 19th century and largely followed City Beautiful Movement design values of the 1890s but also incorporated the flowing and casual design espoused in New York’s Central Park.

The City  Park West neighborhood is a mix of larger turn of the century single family homes, early to mid 20th century apartment buildings, and townhouse infill projects since the 2000s. The neighborhood excels at providing a comfortable mixed-use environment with convenient public transit and bike infrastructure and is a short distance to Downtown. The neighborhood is also one of Denver’s most economically diverse districts and also boasts great racial diversity.

Colfax Avenue is the biggest area of improvement as it is kinda seedy and rather autocentric in orientation still. There is also a need for more walkable schools, affordable housing, and better retail amenities including a supermarket.

Click here to view my City Park Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Decent urban density.
* Good but not great ADA infrastructure as many curbs are missing modern ADA cuts.
* Good bike infrastructure including several bike lanes and couple dedicated bike stations.
* Solid public transit and convenient access to Dwtn among all modes.
* One of Denver’s most economically diverse district. All good racial diversity.
* Seems to be a fair amount of affordable hsg available here.
* City Park, Denver’s best urban park, sits on the eastern edge of the neighborhood. No other parks in the neighborhood although Chessman Park is only a couple blocks south.
* Great Tree Canopy.
* Solid architecture both historic and infill.
* Good cultural amenities including plenty of restaurants, bars & cafes, an indie film house, a couple live music venues, and a couple night clubs.
* Very mixed use with lots of food & beverage business spread throughout the district.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Limited generational diversity as this is mostly filled with young adults.
* Several schools within City Park West are nearby but mixed ratings.
* Housing on the pricy side. Some more modestly priced condos available. 1-beds sell btwn 325K-1M, 2-beds 350K-1M, 3 & 4 beds btwn 425K to the mid 1 Ms.
* Decent # of rentals but also pretty pricy. Studios and 1-beds lease btwn the low 1Ks-2K, 2-beds btwn high 1Ks-3K, 3-beds 2K-4K.
* Generally a safe area. Some sketchy stretches along Colfax.
* Urban form is so  along Colfax Ave. Some crummy auto centric. modern infill here.
* Decent but not great retail amenities including a drug store, a couple boutiques & unique stores, a toystore, several banks, dessert joints & gyms, and  post office. Also a major hospital here and several churches.
* No supermarket within City Park West but plenty in surrounding neighborhoods.

Capitol Hill, Denver’s First Bohemian Neighborhood

Capitol Hill was originally home to Denver’s elite who constructed many elaborate mansions here. When the Denver economy crashed after the Silver Crash of 1893,  Capitol Hill’s housing transition to more modest homes and apartment buildings.  The neighborhood remained  middle-class until the 50s. At that time Capitol Hill became pretty seedily with lots of transients. Colfax Avenue also suffered in the 50s & 60s with the construction of I-70 and went into a downward spiral.

Fortunately Capitol Hill’s fabric remained intact and its  affordability, urban character and eclectic architecture appealed to young bohemians, artists, musicians leading to a gradual gentrification that reached its height during the 2000s. Rents have increased significantly over the past decade but Capitol Hill still retains many of its moderately priced rentals and condos thanks to more many dated mid-century multi-family bldgs. While Colfax Ave has certainly improved, it still retains much of its historic grittiness and some blight. Many urban in-fill opportunities exist along Colfax Ave.

Capitol Hill is one of Denver’s most dense neighborhoods and is conveniently located about 1.5 miles from Downtown. This has created a very mixed-use and culturally vibrant community where one can get around easily by any mode of transit. The two main areas I’d especially like to see improve are better schools and a larger multi-generational population. Capitol Hill is very much a young professional district. There are also some surface lots on the western edge that need urban in-fill and park amenities could be better.

Click here to view my Capitol Hill neighborhood on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* One of Denver’s most dense districts.
* Overall excellent ADA infrastructure.
* Excellent public transit close to Colfax. Decent further south in the neighborhood.
* Great connectivity in the street grid.
* Good array of bike shares but only one dedicated bike lane in the neighborhood.
* Very convenient access to Dwtn across all modes of transportation.
* Great economic diversity. Decent racial diversity.
* Hsg on the pricey but a ton of moderately price condos. Studios & 1 beds sell anywhere btwn 200K-700K, 2-beds 250K-low 1Ms, 3 & 4 beds btwn 350-1.5M with condos being on the cheaper end.
* Tons of rentals and comparatively moderately priced comparted to other Denver neighborhoods. Studios 1-beds lease anywhere in the 1Ks, 2-beds 1.5K to 2.5K, 3-beds are limited and lease around 3K. Good # of dedicated aff. hsg here.
* Great cultural amenities including many food & beverage businesses, several art galleries, plenty of night clubs, a couple local theaters, lot of live music venues, tons of museums and historic homes (esp. when you include the Golden Triangle).
* Good retail amenities including a couple grocery stores & drug stores, several boutiques, home good & creative stores, a bookstore, some banks, and gyms, & dessert venues. There is also a Children’s hospital and many churches here.
* Great mixed-use fabric including lots of office space near dwtn.
* Overall quality urban architecture both old and new.
* Some auto centric spots along Colfax, Lincoln, and Broadway but overall very good urban form

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Generational diversity is limited. Most residents are childless young adults.
* Good # of schools here but very mixed ratings.
* Parks are limited to a couple parkettes, the State House/Civic Center Park, and decent access to Cheesman Park.
* Generally a safe district but it does have some grit and sketchy spots on Colfax and 13th Street.
* Decent tree canopy but below average for Denver.
* Some surface parking lots on the western edge of Capitol Hill.

Cheesman Park- An solid urban district surrounding its namesake park and the Denver Botanic Garden

The Cheesman Park neighborhood is one Denver’s older districts with City plats dating as far back as 1868. By 1883 the district was annexed into Denver and the neighborhood was filled in by about 1910.  The neighborhood revolves around its namesake Cheesman Park, which was completed by 1915. The park and the Denver Botanic Gardens replaced the old Prospect Hill Cemetery. Thanks to this great asset many mansions where built here for the City’s elite yet by the 1930s many apartment buildings were constructed and replaced the historic mansions. The densification of the district continued into the 1960s as more and more apartments were constructed.

Because of the construction of many apartment buildings between 1930s-1960s, Cheesman Park hosts many affordable apartments and condos buildings that mix in well with higher end single family homes. The district also has great access to Dwtn and good public transit access. Areas that could improve include better ADA and bike infrastructure, more racial and generational density, better schools access, and urban infill along Colfax Avenue, which feels rather auto centric and lacks retail amenities.

Click here to view my Cheesman Park album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Excellent urban density.
* Convenient access to Dwtn.
* Great connectivity here.
* Wonderful economic diversity here.
* Hsg on the pricey but a good amount of moderately price condos. Studios & 1 beds sell anywhere btwn 200K-700K, 2-beds 300K-1M, 3 & 4 beds btwn 450-2M with condos being on the cheaper end.
* Decent # of rentals and comparatively moderately expensive to other Denver neighborhoods. 1-beds lease anywhere in the 1ks, 2-beds 1.5K to 2.5K, 3-beds in the 4 & 5Ks but few of them.
* Wonderful access to park amenities as Cheesman park sits in the middle of the district and comprises about 1/3 of the neighborhood. The park has very diverse amenities too. City Park is also not too far away.
* Good cultural amenities including a good array of restaurants, bars, night clubs, and cafes. There is also a performing arts center, indie theater, a couple historic homes, and the Denver Botanical Garden.
* Good but not great retail amenities including a supermarket, a couple pharmacies, a bookstore, a couple antiques stores, several banks, several dessert & gyms and a local post office. A couple major hospitals are only 1/2 mile north of here.
* Very attractive historic architecture and generally good urban in-fill with the modern towers.
* Excellent tree canopy.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Good but not great ADA infrastructure as only 1/2 of the curb cuts are up to modern standards.
* Good but not great public transit access. Much better in the northern half than southern half.
* A bit of a dead spot for bike infrastructure in the Inner City. Few dedicated bike lanes. Decent access to the City’ bike share.
* Limited racial and generational diversity.
* Generally a very safe community although some crime appears to occur in the park itself.
* No schools within Cheesman Park but a couple good ones on nearby.
* Colfax Avenue is pretty autocentric along its stretch touching Cheesman Park.

Congress Park- a solid Denver Urban District located south of City Park

I included the small neighborhood between Colfax and City Park in the Congress Park neighborhood as this area is too small to evaluate on its own.

By the late 1880s, the air quality in Denver had pushed the population to the outskirts of town and cable car improvements made the eastern sections of the Capitol Hill neighborhood more accessible to the middle class. Congress Park was platted into more than ten subdivisions between 1887 and 1888 as part of this growth and incorporated into the City of Denver. While originally known as Capitol Heights, the Congress Park name has been used since the 1970s.

This is a solid district from an urban perspective with its 3 commercial districts along Colfax, Colorado Blvd. and the very mixed-use 12th Avenue. Congress Park also has solid public transit & bike access, good parks, great cultural and good retail amenities, and a good amount of affordable apartments and condos thanks to its numerous mid-century buildings.

Major deficiencies in Congress Park include a lack of racial and generational diversity, some autocentric gaps along Colfax & Colorado Blvd. and lacking a walkable public library.

Click here to view my Congress Park album on my Flickr page

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Great sidewalk and good ADA infrastructure although with a fair amount of outdated curb cuts.
* Wonderfully connected street network.
* Good economic diversity.
* Over a very safe community.
* Decent # of walkable schools here or nearby and well rated.
* Decent # of rentals and comparatively moderately expensive to other Denver neighborhoods. 1-beds lease anywhere in the 1ks, 2-beds low 1Ks to 3K, 3-beds in the high 2Ks to 4K.
* Hsg on the pricey but a good amount of moderately price condos. Studios & 1 beds sell anywhere btwn 200K-1M, 2-beds 300K-1M, 3 & 4 beds btwn 500-2M with condos being on the cheaper end.
* Good park amenities with City Park on the northern border, Chessman park on the western and Congress park filled with athletic courts and a pool.
* Great tree canopy.
* Great cultural amenities including many restaurants, cafes, & bars, a couple breweries and art galleries, a major cineplex & and an indie theater, and several music venues. Also good access to several museums in City Park and the Denver Botanical Gardens to the west.
* Good retail amenities too including a Trader’s Joe and a couple grocerias, a couple drug stores, several boutiques & creative stores a bookstore, a hardware store, a post office, and several dessert and gyms stores. There is also a major hospital here.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* No public library in Congress Park.
* So  racial and generational diversity.
* Generally good modern in-fill but still some autocentric development along Colorado Blvd. and Colfax.
* Good but not great public transit access. Same with bike infrastructure as there are a couple dedicated bike lanes and some bike shares available.

Cherry Creek- Denver’s High-End City Neighborhood Shopping District

The Cherry Creek area was originally called Harman, which was annexed into Denver in 1895. The low lying area around the Cherry Creek was the legacy of black homesteaders,. By the 20s Cherry Creek was considered a suburb and still largely African-American.  In 1950 a couple of major improvements occurred: a dam was built, which significantly reduced regular flooding and the neighborhood dump was removed and redeveloped as the first edition of the Cherry Creek Mall. By 1990, the mall was replaced with high-end outlets and department stores that upped the area’s prestige. Cherry Creek also began to densify in the 1990s especially along the main commercial centers of First, Second, and Third Avenues becoming more mixed-use medium sized structures. Most of the older single family homes have also been rebuilt as a mix of very high end SF homes and townhomes.

From an urban perspective, I generally view Cherry Creek’s densification as a positive force but unfortunately this came with limited new affordable housing creating a pretty homogenous high-end community. But Cherry Creek does host some of the best cultural and retail amenities outside of Dwtn plus solid bike & public transit access along with quality park amenities. From an urban form perspective Cherry Creek does well but still has some pretty autocentric stretches that should be redeveloped.

Click here to view my Cherry Creek Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Good public transit access and pretty convenient access to Dwtn among all modes of transit.
* Great connectivity in the street grid.
* Quality bike infrastructure here.
* This is a very safe community.
* Solid park amenities include recreational trails along Cherry Creek, the multi-faceted Pulaski Park, and James Manley Park.
* Sidewalk infrastructure is good but about 1/3 of curb cuts are outdated.
* Great cultural amenities including tons of restaurants, night clubs, bars, cafes, plenty of art galleries, a cineplex, and some live music venues.
* Some of the best retail amenities in a Denver neighborhood including the extensive Cherry Creek Shopping Center that includes tons and shops and several dept stores, a couple supermarkets, a couple drug stores, lots of boutiques, home goods, &  clothing stores, plenty of banks, gyms, & dessert joints, and a large medical center.. There is also a suburb shopping mall on the SE edge of the district with a Target & lots of other stores.
* Most of the neighborhood is built after WWII and the architecture is generally urban.
* Very mixed-use district.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Decent density.
* Diversity is pretty low across all indicators especially generational and economic.
* Hsg is certainly on the expensive end. Wide range of pricing for 1-bed condos selling anywhere from 225K-1.4M, 2-beds 375K-2 M., 3 & 4 beds 700K-5M even with some more expensive product.
* Rentals are all very expensive. Studios & 1-beds lease btwn 1.5K- mid 3Ks, 2-beds 2K-4K, 3 -beds 3K-6K.
* Better walkable schools access than most Denver neighborhoods including several well rated schools. But not great.
* Limited historic architecture.
* Generally good urban massing but a fair amount of auto centric stretches too.

Country Club- One of Denver’s Most Exclusive Historic Neighborhoods

Country Club is a mostly residential neighborhood developed  between around 1900-1940s. The district hosts some of the best historic mansions in Denver and is a very high-end enclave of the City. The district also has convenient access to Dwtn and the mixed-use Cherry Creek district to its east. It excels as a very safe community, great tree canopy, solid bike infrastructure and public transit access and wonderful set of tree lined boulevards.

But Country Club does lack a lot of important urban features including a decent urban biz district, good density, plentiful walkable schools, diverse and affordable housing, and quality park amenities. I’d certainly love to see more mixed-use development and density here. Just not sure if the current zoning permits it.

Click here to view my Country Club album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Decent public transit access but still good access to Dwtn.
* solid bike infrastructure including a couple dedicated bike lanes and decent access to bike rentals.
* Great generational diversity as many families with kids live here.
* Good sidewalk and solid ADA infrastructure but about 1/2 curb cuts are not up to modern standards.
* Very safe community.
* Excellent Tree Canopy.
* Wonderful set of tree line boulevards.
* Excellent Historic homes here, many of them mansion.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Below average density for an urban area.
* Poor racial and very poor economic diversity. Generally a very white and affluent district.
* Several well rated schools in and around Country Club but too few too be considered a major walkable asset for Country Club.
* Rentals are very limited here and pricey, which helps explain the limited  income diversity.
* For sale options are expensive and limited. Really no 1-bedroom options. 2-beds range btwn 500K-1M. 3 & 4 beds btwn 500K-3M +
* Okay park amenities including little Cheesman park, the expansive Cheesman Park just north, and the private Denver Country Club. Also Alamo Placita Park a couple places west.
* Okay cultural amenities including a handful of restaurants, bars & cafes, a indie theater. Country Club is adjacent to the many cultural & retail amenities of Cherry Park to its east.
* Slightly better retail amenities including 2 supermarkets, a couple drug stores, a couple boutiques & home good stores, a couple banks, and a couple churches. The cherry Creek Shopping Center and lots of other retail amenities sit just east of the district..
* Not much newer in fill but what does exist is generally decent.

Baker- A Quality Late 19th Century Denver Neighborhood

The first subdivision of the  Baker neighborhood  was platted along Santa Fe Dr. south of W. Sixth Ave. in 1872, and residential development took off throughout the district in the 1880s. The part of the neighborhood north of Alameda Ave. was annexed into the city of Denver in 1883. More than 80 percent of the neighborhood was developed by 1900. Much of the neighborhood’s historic housing is being preserved thanks to its historic district designation in 2000.

Baker’s historically has been a major Hispanic enclave including half of its residents. The Hispanic population is now closer to 30% but Baker remains a very diverse community as many Asians and Blacks have moved into the neighborhood.

Baker boasts quality urbanism thanks to great public transit access, a robust biz district along Broadway and other mixed-use areas, and solid bike infrastructure. To be a premier urban district Baker needs better density, more walkable schools and park amenities, and the redevelopment of the suburban power center at its southern edge.

Click here to view my Baker Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Good sidewalk infrastructure but ADA curb cuts are generally dated, especially on residential streets.
* Great public transit access thanks to decent access to the rail lines that run through the district.
* Decent bike infrastructure with a patchwork of bike lanes and lots of bike share options.
* Good diversity all around , esp. racial and economic. Large Native American and Hispanic populations living here.
* Very cute historic homes great historic commercial along Broadway.
* Solid urban infill along Broadway. Large suburban power center in the southern end of the district. Blah industrial along the western edge.
* Great cultural amenities including many restaurants, cafes, bars, & breweries, live music venues, concentrated along Broadway and Santa Fe. Also an indie movie theater and several art galleries here.
*  Good retail amenities albeit often in power centers including a Safeway, Home Depot, Sam’s Club, plenty of boutiques, gift stores, & creative shops along Broadway, a couple book stores, several home goods shops esp. in the Denver Design Center, several gyms and dessert venues, a public library & post office, and several churches.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* So  density.
* Some schools in and around Baker but generally not rated well.
* Good # of rentals but on the pricy side. Studios 1-beds lease btwn low 1Ks to mid 2Ks, 2-beds high 1Ks -mid3K. Some 3-beds available generally leasing in the 3Ks.
* For sale properties are also expensive but decent variety and a good # of 1-beds and 2 beds in the district. 1-bed condos/homes selling in the 300KS-550Ks. 2-bed homes range from 400-900K, 2-beds homes/townhouses are on average a bit more expensive. 3 & 4 beds homes sell btwn 550K-and the low Ms.
* Park amenities are limited to a couple small parks. Some good large parks along the Platte River but hard to get to from Baker by foot.
* Urban massing is generally good but some gaps on Broadway on the northern and southern end. Santa Fe and surrounding industrial area is a mixed bag.

Alamo Placito- a quaint urban district just south of Denver’s Capitol Hill

Alamo Placita was first developed  by Robert Speer, developer and mayor of Denver. The neighborhood filled in primarily between the 1890s and 1940s and much of this fabric has been preserved thanks to the Alamo Placita Historic District home to many fine examples of middle class housing styles (Arts & Crafts, Foursquares, and Bungalows) mixed with larger Classical Revival-Styles.

After WWII the neighborhood slightly declined but interest picked up by the 70s as young professionals appreciated the district’s comfortable family friend homes with convenient City access.

Alamo Placita has decent walkability and mixed-use fabric but not great urban business districts (limiting its retail and cultural amenities). The district also excels at safety, quality park amenities, and leafy tree lined streets. For a better urban environment Alamo Placita could use more density, and mixed-use buildings. There is also a lack of quality walkable schools, several critical retail amenities, and limited affordable housing options.

Click here to view my Alamo Placita album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Pretty good density.
* Good ADA and sidewalk infrastructure overall. About 1/3 of all ADA curb cuts are outdated. Curb cuts also not the best at Alleyway crossings.
* Good public transit access.
* Good bike infrastructure with a dedicated bike lane running along the river and dockless bike share available in the neighborhood.
* For sale properties are also expensive but good variety and there are many condos in the district. Studios sell btwn 200K-400K, 1-bed condos btwn 250K-500K, Lots of 2-bed condos that range from 250-700K, 2-beds homes/townhouses are on average a bit more expensive. 3 & 4 beds homes sell btwn 400K-1.5 M. Condos are on the cheaper end.
* Cute historic homes from the 20s-40s.
* Good parks spaces with the pleasant and diverse Alamo Placido & Governors Parks. Quality recreation trail along Cherry Creek and a cemetery as well.
* Quality tree canopy.
* Overall a very safe community.
* Pretty good urban massing along the 6th & 7th biz districts.
* Decent cultural amenities including several restaurants & cafes, a brewery, some bars, an indie film house, plus lots of amenities in nearby districts.
* Good retail amenities including a Trader Joe’s, Safeway, drug store, a couple boutiques & home good stores, several dessert joints & gyms, a couple banks & churches.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* No schools within Alamo Placita but several on the edges of the district. Unfortunately these schools are generally rated poorly.
* Decent # of rentals but rather pricy. 1-beds lease for mid 1Ks to mid 2Ks, 2-beds 2K-3K. A handful of 3-beds available leading in the 3Ks.
* Does not appear to be much dedicated affordable hsg here.
* No art galleries, theaters, or live music venues in Alamo Placita.
* Missing a post office, public library, and many local stores. Also a very limited number of churches here.
* Limited racial and economic diversity here.

Speer- a solid mixed-use urban district hostings Denver’s Broadway Avenue

This solid Denver district was developed primarily between the 1890s-1930s. It has a typical Denver form with gridded streets and regular alleyways. But does better from an urban perspective than other adjacent Denver districts as it has the major Broadway Business District on its western edge, lots of mixed-use areas throughout, and is quite dense thanks to several 60s & 70s high-rises and the densification of the neighborhood, which has been in force since zoning changes were made by the state in 2010.

Speer also excels at being a truly multi-model district with great transit and bike infrastructure. While housing is generally expensive, Sheer offers a good amount of moderately priced condo options. Speer also has solid retail and cultural offerings particularly along the Broadway Corridor.

Areas for improvement include more high quality walkable schools, more park and recreation options, and filling in autocentric gaps particularly present along the northern and southern end of Broadway Ave and Almeda Avenue.

Click here to view my Speer album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Great density especially for a district built up btwn the 1910s-1940s.
* Generally good sidewalk infrastructure but many curb cuts are outdated or broken.
* High quality public transit access. Good access to dwtn across all modes of transportation. Great system of dedicated bike lanes and decent access to the City’s bike share.
* Great economic diversity.
* For sale properties are also expensive but good variety and there are many condos in the district. Lots of studios and 1-bed condos selling in the 200KS-400Ks. Some are a bit more expensive.  Lots of 2-bed condos that range from 300-800K, 2-beds homes/townhouses are on average a bit more expensive. 3 & 4 beds homes sell btwn 600K-1.4 M.
* Lots # of rentals but on the pricy side. Studios 1-beds lease btwn low 1Ks to mid 2Ks, 2-beds mid 1Ks -3K. Some 3-beds available generally leasing in the 3-4Ks.
* Good tree canopy.
* Solid cultural amenities including many restaurants, bars, breweries, cafes, an indie theater and community theater, and plenty of live music venues & night clubs.
* Good retail amenities including a couple supermarkets on the SW edge, a couple drug stores, good # of boutiques and unique stores along Broadway, a couple bookstores, a couple banks, several dessert spots & gyms, plenty of salons, a post office and public library, and several churches.
* Solid architecture all around. Cute historic residential holds, quality residential neighborhood infill, and great historic comm. along Broadway.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Racial and generational diversity are pretty limited here.
* Walkable access to a decent number of schools generally rated well.
* Decent park amenities including a community garden, the Hungarian Freedom Memorial, and recreational trail along the northern boarder.  The extensive Washington Park is only several blocks south of the district and the private Denver Country Club sits on the eastern border.
* Urban massing is generally good but some gaps on Broadway on the northern and southern end. Almeda is a mixed bag.