Crossing the Grays Ferry Bridge

Holly Mack-Ward & Co. October 18, 2013

Over recent years, we’ve watched the expansion of what’s considered Center City continue to spread. And it makes sense: Philadelphia is a city with a growing population, and lots of people want the amenities of living in Center City without the hefty price tag. As buyers are priced out of the neighborhoods immediately surrounding Center City, they continue their march, increasingly to the south and west lately. With Graduate Hospital values now practically on par with Center City and prices in Point Breeze rapidly increasing, development on the other side of the Schuylkill beyond the borders of University City seems inevitable.


Just across the Grays Ferry Bridge, Ronald “Boots” Nissenbaum operates Humphrys-CoverSports at 50th St and Paschall Ave. He’s always loved the residential area his factory is nestled in, but lamented the vacant homes that blemish its quiet blocks where otherwise the pride of longtime ownership shows. Realizing it was only a matter of time before the vacant homes and lots were filled, he purchased 19 parcels in the area. Rather than sitting by and waiting for outside developers to come in, he decided to try to kickstart the revitalization of the neighborhood himself. The first two homes of his project, located at 1429 and 1441 S 50th St just below Woodland Ave, were completed this summer. The first, a corner property with an amazing skyline view, sold in one day, the second in 17.

It’s easy to see why the homes sold so quickly.These are not the cookie-cutter renovations of an investor looking to make a quick profit. The quality of the work is apparent from the curb—the exteriors have been painted in contrasting colors to make the lovely details of the facades pop. Boots and his daughter Jamie gave careful consideration to every detail while picking finishes, from the marble double vanity in the bathroom at 1441, to the under-stair storage closets in both homes. The father-daughter team doesn’t expect to see a profit when these homes, which are priced at $125,000 and $119,900, go to settlement—in fact, it’s likely that they will break even or possibly lose money on Phase 1. But they see it both as a labor of love in the neighborhood their family business is anchored to, and as a smart investment that is bound to pay off in the long run. 


Touring the homes and the block, it’s hard not to share their vision. The houses are situated along a strip of rowhomes overlooking a nursing home with tree-lined grounds and a vacant lot maintained by the City. On the corner there are several trolley and bus lines that take you to Center City in less than 15 minutes, and it’s an easy walk to Four Worlds Bakery, Guacamole Mex-Grill, Whispering Leaves tea shop, West Philly Tool Library and Comegys Playground. Boots’ and Jamie’s excitement is contagious, and we’re excited to work with them on planning Phase II. Of course we’ll keep you posted—and if you’d like to talk about developing your own real estate investment strategy, give us a call. 







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