Fairmount- An attractive Philly neighborhood well on the road to recovery

There are several sub-districts in Fairmount. I decided for evaluation purposes, due to size and individual identity, to include Francisville in this eval but to exclude Spring Garden as a separate district. The neighborhood boundaries are therefore Spring Garden to the South, Popular/Girard to the north, Broad to the east, and Pennsylvania Ave. to the west.

Prominent city families established countryseats in Fairmount in the 1700s & 1800s especially along the Schuylkill River. The Eastern State Penitentiary was built further inland in 1829. Development really came in force in the mid-late 19th century with the construction of many rowhouses to support a growing number of factories and breweries in the area. Francisville likely was a separate village established along a stagecoach stop.

Historically  Fairmount was home to working class and middle class families. A divide occurred in the 1960s where the eastern  half of the district (generally east of Corinth), primarily centered on the Francisville sub-district,  fell into disrepair and blight. West of Corinth remained stable. Sadly this was largely along racial lines. South of Fairmount Ave is the Spring Garden district which historically was a high-end district with larger flats. The western half of Fairmount also gentrified first. It is only within the past decade that areas east of Corinth have seen significant investment. Because of the deep distress of the neighborhood, investment is bringing an explosion of in-fill and thankfully of a high urban quality.

Most of the commercial amenities are along Fairmount Ave. Ridge Ave and Broad Ave were historically thriving business districts but are taking longer to recover than near by residential areas. In 5 years I’m confident that Ridge Ave will once again be a thriving biz district resembling Northern Liberties in many ways. Hopefully the same is true for Broad Avenue. That street is just to well built and iconic to remain blighted and underutilized.
Click here to view my Fairmount and Francisville Neighborhood on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Great Density, transit access, and overall walkability.
* Fairmount sits only 1-1.5 miles from Downtown.
* Good bike access with a bike lane along Fairmount Ave and Pennsylvania Ave along with several bike stations.
* Very attractive rowhouses with a mix of higher end and worker housing. Very attractive historic commercial bldgs along Broad St.
* Generally West of 22nd Street is most White and east is mostly Black. But the with revitalization, the line is being more blurred. Median income follows very similar lines.
* About 50% of households are family, a high pct for the City.
* Excellent modern in-fill with a high level of urban form closely resembling the form of historic buildings.
* Great access to the main recreational amenities of Fairmount Park, esp. the western half of the neighborhood. Also a nice recreational amenities at Francisville Playground (Rec center, pool, playground, and ballfield). Really no other rec spaces in the district.
* Fairmount, Broad, and Ridge are the main comm. areas but also some businesses mixed into residential areas in the western half of the District.
* Generally good urban in the biz districts but some auto centric dead spots along Broad and Ridge. Hopefully with rapid redevelopment (esp. on Ridge) these wholes will be filled in with good form.
* Good of array of decently rated schools. Lots of private school options. Girard College is basically a boarding school for the underprivileged.
* Solid cultural amenities when one also includes the amenities within 1 mile walk. Within the district  there are a decent # of restaurants, bars, and cafes especially along Fairmount. A couple great live music venues including the Met Philadelphia, and the South jazz club is just south of Fairmount. The district also hosts Eastern State Penitentiary. One also needs to include the many museums located on the neighborhood’s boundaries or within a mile walk (e.g. Museum of Art, Barnes Foundation, Rodin Museum, Franklin Institute, and much more).
* Solid retail amenities esp. when you include stores in adjacent district but walkable. There is an Aldi’s & Whole foods on the neighborhood’s edge and a small grocery within it. Other amenities include: a couple drug stores, a hardware store, bookstore, plenty of banks, and a decent amount of unique stores along Fairmount. Target is 0.5-1 from the district depending were you live. 

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* For-sale Housing getting expensive but still a good amount of moderately priced housing existing. 2-3 bedroom rowhouses selling in the 300Ks & 400Ks Larger/newer or more renovated homes selling between 500K-800K.
* Lots of rental options but also pretty expensive. 1-bedrooms leasing around $1,000s and 2-bedrooms in the mid 1,000s-$2,000. Some dedicated rentals mixed in.
* Decent tree cover in the western half of Fairmount not so great around Francisville. Sadly this matched closely race and wealth lines of the two areas.
* Generally a safe community although still some blighted areas and rough patches along the eastern edges of the district.
* Generally good ADA infrastructure but some missing sidewalks (sometimes due to development) in Francisville and not consistent ADA modern ramps, esp. in the res. streets.

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