One in a continuing series spotlighting real estate markets in this region's communities.
There was a time 60th Street in Haddington was called "Real Estate Row," because of the 22 realty offices that lined both sides of the thoroughfare.
Given the changing fortunes of the housing market, that time has past in many places, not just this nearly one-mile-square chunk of West Philadelphia hugging the Market-Frankford El - which, not surprisingly, was the catalyst for the neighborhood's birth in 1903 and subsequent growth.
Sandidge & Co., at 40 N. 60th St., is the lone survivor on Real Estate Row, and after 50 years in business, broker E. Paul Sandidge remains "the authority" on real estate in the neighborhood, says Terry Guerra, director of special projects for the nonprofit ACHIEVEability, which has its headquarters in Haddington.
ACHIEVEability owns more than 200 properties throughout Haddington and Cobbs Creek, where its clients live while they complete two- and four-year academic programs to become nurses, social workers, teachers, and computer specialists.
"These contribute to the stability of these blocks," says Danyl S. Patterson, a lifelong Haddington resident whose law practice is a few doors from Sandidge's; she is on the ACHIEVEability board and has been president of the Haddington-Cobbs Creek Community Development Corp. since 2005.
Chuck Mayfield, who has been selling real estate for Sandidge since 1995, says young families have been coming into Haddington for the last few years, "buying up older properties and rehabbing them."
In addition, there has been a "ton of investors in the last year and a half," Mayfield says, adding that the "real estate crash left the neighborhood in really bad shape."
"But that's real estate," he says, "it changes all the time. It is a roller-coaster ride."
Patterson says the neighborhood, long home to middle-class African Americans, has become more diverse in recent years, with students and faculty from the University of Pennsylvania moving in.
"It's really exciting," says Patterson, who adds that she can gauge the demographic changes by "the kids on their way to and from school."
Some Asian Americans who own businesses in the neighborhood also choose to live here, she says. In fact, there has been a proliferation of new businesses, including an Internet cafe and a fashion boutique whose owner also designs clothes.
Three of Patterson's college friends have bought there in the last six months, moving from Delaware County and New Jersey. Almost immediately, they were welcomed by the block captain and the town watch, she says.
"One of them left her light on in her car, and someone knocked on the door at 1 a.m. to let her know," Patterson says. "She told me they didn't do that" where she lived previously.
Haddington has one of the largest homeownership rates in the city.
"Every block is different, just like every other Philadelphia neighborhood," says Mayfield. "On one block, you'll find all retirees, and on the next block, young families."
A house in move-in condition will range in price from $50,000 to $65,000, Mayfield says, and rehabbed properties sell for $80,000 to $95,000.
"Rents are getting pretty high, and a lot of renters are asking themselves why they should be paying $850 a month for an apartment when they could spend $550 on a mortgage," he says.
The multifamily market is not as strong as the single-family for a variety of reasons, he says, not the least of which is that new regulations for financing require 30 percent down, instead of 10 percent as in the past, and "a lot of people just don't have that."
"In addition," he says, "there are worries about getting the right tenants who are able to pay."
The churning of Haddington's housing market would have pleased Walter C. Smith, the neighborhood nurseryman/developer/banker who bought up huge swaths of what was described as an industrial village around the turn of the 20th century - as the El was bringing its promise of easy commutes downtown and to 69th Street in Upper Darby and beyond.
Many examples of Smith's efforts remain in the Haddington Historic District, in the 6000 blocks of Market, Ludlow, and Chestnut Streets.
One such example, the California Mission-style Lawson Residences at the Von Louhr on South 61st Street near Market, was built in 1912.
ACHIEVEability, which has its offices in the basement, spent $7 million in 2011-12 to renovate the 24-unit building as apartments for its clients. When they complete the program and get jobs, many buy houses in the neighborhood.
An influx of younger, more diverse buyers and investors, a grassroots effort by community groups that resulted in a senior center and enhanced health-care opportunities for women and children, and a ramped-up police presence have increased the comfort level in Haddington in recent years.
"Our neighborhood is really a neighborhood where everyone knows one another and watches out for them," says Patterson, who is excited by the latest developments.
"Haddington is a viable neighborhood," she says. "That's a concept that has never changed."
Town By Town: Haddington, By the Numbers
Population: 30,913 (2010)
Median income: $29,187 (2009)
Area: 0.88 square miles
Homes for sale: 95
Settlements in the last three months: 12
Median days on market: 88
Median sale price (single-family homes): $33,500
Median sale price (all homes): $33,500
Housing stock: Rowhouses and multifamily housing, pre-World War II
School district: Philadelphia
SOURCES: City-data.com; Trulia.comEndText
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