Callow Hill- Philly’s Ultimate Loft District

I used the boundaries of Broad, Spring Garden, 6th St. and 676 for Callow Hill. The district was named after Hannah Callowhill Penn, William Penn’s second wife. Callowhill became a major large-scale manufacturing hub siting just outside of Central City in the turn of the 20th century but it always retained a decent residential population. During the 1970s and 1980s, industrial warehouses began to decay and the district’s population also fell. Since probably the early 2000s, developers started to employ adaptive reuse projects, so much so that many call Callow Hill “The Loft District”  Callow hill also hosts a large Chinese population due to its proximity to Chinatown just to the south of I-676.

Grit lovers will certainly find a home here in Callow Hill. Not only do you encounter fascinating industrial lofts apartments, but the district retains a incredibly raw and gritty feel. This also comes with downsides like, few trees and green spaces, limited streetscaping improvements, and plenty of unattractive industrial building with autocentric layouts. But the district has many quality urban attributes including quality cultural amenities, decent retail amenities, excellent public transit, convenience to Center City, and  a good array of quality walkable schools. Callow Hill also hosts Philly’s high line, a  former Reading Railroad Viaduct that will be converted into a quarter-mile-long, elevated park.

I fully anticipate Callow Hill to continue filling in and attracting a niche of grit and historic architecture lovers. There is so much potential for urban growth here. 
Click here to view my Callow Hill Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Excellent public transit access and very convenient to Center City.
* Very good dedicated bike lanes and a several dedicated bike stations in the district.
* Almost half of the district’s population is Asian., 38% White and a good mix of other races. Excellent economic distribution living in the district.
* For sale housing includes mostly industrial loft conversions. Some very interesting spaces. Decent amount of 1 & 2 bedroom product selling in the high 100Ks, 200Ks, and 300Ks. Higher end product selling in the 400Ks & 500ks. True luxury product and townhouses doesn’t exist here yet.
* Rent is pretty moderately priced. 1-bedrooms lease for around 1,000 and 2-bedrooms in the mid to low $2,000s. 3-bedrooms generally in the $2,000s.
* Historically some very interesting old warehouses and excellent architecture along Broad Street.
* While prices aren’t as high as other surrounding districts, a buzz definitively seems to be building here.
* Cultural amenities include a good number of restaurants, bars, cafes, and breweries, several art galleries, several live music venues & theaters, and convenient access to many of Central City’s cultural amenities.
* Retail amenities include a target, several drug stores, an Aldi’s a quarter mile north of the districts border, several ethnic grocerias, a handful of boutiques and banks, and several industrial supply stores.
* Several great school options spanning age and public/private pretty well. Many other schools walkable in adjacent districts.
* Urban form is generally good along the main biz districts (Broad and Spring Garden) but not great along the eastern edge. No recent investment in the streetscaping. Rough in spots within the district.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Decent ADA curb cuts along the main arteries (i.e. Broad, Spring Garden and Ridge) but pretty poor on the side streets, albeit always with sidewalks.
* Pretty Low density for a Philadelphia district but at 12K/ sq mile its not too bad.
* Family households is only 30%. Decent amount of adult diversity between 20-50 but few elderly.
* Other than the rail park, trees are very limited. Also no other park space the rail park. There is however a climbing wall and decent access to plazas in nearby Center City. Fortunately there are plans to expand the rail park.
* Mixed bag with urban infill. Some nice newer projects have been erected but plenty of ugly post WWII industrial buildings.
* No post office nor library in the district. Few unique or creative retail.

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