One in a continuing series spotlighting real estate markets in the region's communities.

With all eyes focused on the rising real estate fortunes of Philadelphia, what's going on 25 miles away is sometimes ignored, except by the people who live in what many these days call "the reemerging boroughs."

One of these is Souderton, a Montgomery County community off Route 309 that during a couple of recent visits was a hub of activity, now that work has resumed around the train station at Broad and Main Streets.

"You must have seen the building across the street that is being turned into a coffeehouse with offices on the second floor," says Joanne Coppens, manager of the Souderton-Telford Main Streets program.

"There are lot of yellow vests on the streets these days," she says, referring to all the renovation.

The borough leases the train station and adjacent structures at Broad and Main from SEPTA, which ended passenger service in the 1980s.

The station is already home to the Local restaurant, which has outdoor dining on the platform. A tap house may be coming into the complex, Coppens says, though plans are not yet final.

The $1.5 million project, now expected to be completed in the fall, is a major piece of downtown revitalization, creating "a community center" to complement the park and band shell up Main Street.

Those "yellow vests" are converting old factory buildings into office space in the Main Street Hollow across from the Montgomery Theater, itself a major area attraction.

The Hollow includes the Village Centre Office Suites, Allebach Communications, and a third factory being converted by artist Harry Boardman into live-work space, Coppens says.

"There is so much interest in Souderton these days . . . ," she notes.

Diane Williams, of Weichert Realtors in Blue Bell, describes Souderton "as a step back in time" featuring "a majority of older and vintage homes, many of them brick, with nostalgic 'rocking chair' front porches and tranquil tree-lined streets."

Housing prices here fall into the affordable range, attractive to first-time buyers who are being eased out of the competition for many homes elsewhere as for-sale supply declines and demand grows.

There were 86 home sales last year, from $70,000 to $290,000, Williams says, with an average price of $201,013.

The median sale price for the first three months of 2016 was $220,000, an increase of 8.8 percent from $202,250 in the first quarter of 2015, according to Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors HomExpert Market Report, which uses data from Trend Multiple Listing Service.

There were 16 sales in the first quarter, 11.1 percent fewer than the 18 that went to settlement in the same three months of 2015, HomExpert shows.

Currently, there are 30 active listings, Williams says. Six residential properties are selling a month, an absorption rate of five months, she adds.

Although there is little land within the borough limits for new construction, Ryan Homes is building a 48-townhouse development called Highview at Souderton on the old high school site, she says. The building was closed in 2009, when a new high school for the Souderton Area School District was completed.

Ryan received the go-ahead more than a year ago from the borough to begin construction, which involved demolishing the old school first. Starting price for the 1,500- to 2,034-square-foot townhouses is $267,000, Williams says, though one sold for $304,000.

Across the street from Highview, on another parcel of former school property, is Berkeley Court, a townhouse community by Hendricks Building Group being built in two phases, with the first 24 stacked units starting at $167,900, Williams says.

The Montgomery Theater at 124 Main St., founded by Thomas Quinn and Hope deFrenes, opened its doors in 1993 in what had been a firehouse built in the 1920s.

The theater first occupied the lower level of the firehouse, turning the banquet hall and senior center into a 70-seat venue. The engine room was renovated as the 122-seat "Main Stage" in 2002.

Events are one road to revitalization, and Coppens' "baby" is the four-year-old Arts Jam, scheduled this year for Sept. 24.

"We do a lot of events," she says, "but this one has my heart."

Souderton By the Numbers

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Population: 6,618 (2010)
Median household income: $57,568
Area: 1.1 square miles
Settlements in the last three months: 16
Homes for sale: 30
Average days on market: 79
Median sale price: $220,000
Housing stock: 2,720 units; rowhouses, twins and singles.
School district: Souderton Area

SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau; Diane Williams, Weichert Realtors, Blue Bell; Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors HomExpert Market Report

EndTextaheavens@phillynews.com
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