March 22, 2021
West Philadelphia is the perfect locale for residents and newcomers alike looking to take their first steps on the journey of property ownership in the city. While some buyers set their sights on purchasing apartments in Center City and the surrounding neighborhoods between the Delaware and Schulkill Rivers, there are plenty of opportunities for residents to ink deals on spacious row houses in West Philly that are within commuting distance to Market Street.
The region boasts various weekend delights for new homeowners to enjoy, such as the Philadelphia Zoo, plenty of parks, and the restaurants lining Walnut and Chestnut streets. More Philadelphians are targeting West Philadelphia as it provides easy access to the city, as well as the many shopping centers and restaurants opening up near University City. To help new buyers on their search, the team at Prevu Real Estate put together a list of the most-searched neighborhoods west of the Schuylkill River:
Located to the west of University City, Philly residents can find three-story row houses dating back to the early 1900s in Cedar Park. Coined as one of the first streetcar suburbs in Philadelphia, developers created an easily-accessible suburb just outside Center City by building homes around the light rail. The SEPTA Baltimore Avenue trolley runs east to west across Cedar Park, and the 64 bus line traverses north to south along 48th Street, enabling residents to travel across the district.
Drawn to the area by the spacious Queen Anne-style homes, tree-lined streets, and proximity to Clark Park, Philadelphians began moving to the area in droves, especially immigrants taking their first steps towards becoming Americans. This multicultural backbone shines strong today as Cedar Park boasts eateries like the Caribbean 48th Street Grille and Abyssinia, an eclectic Ethiopian eatery where residents can sample various spiced beef, lentil, and other dishes. If buyers are looking for a drink after scouring the neighborhood for their dream home, they can stop in at the Dock Street Brewery West, the first craft microbrewery in Philadelphia that opened in 1985.
“The restaurant scene draws many longtime residents and students from University City,” said Robert Epstine, a real estate agent with Prevu. “Then they end up falling in love with the neighborhood and moving there because of the accessibility to University City and the towering offices of City Center.”
The community is close-knit in Cedar Park, and an organization called the Cedar Park Neighbors advocates to preserve the history of the neighborhood. The pandemic pushed the organization to pivot towards helping brick-and-mortar businesses stay afloat throughout the pandemic. The arts are a popular fixture in Cedar Park, and residents will find art galleries, music schools, and art studios situated near Baltimore Avenue.
After exploring homes in the area, homebuyers thinking of moving to Cedar Park should make their way over to Hibiscus Cafe for vegan and vegetarian snacks to cap a day of home hunting.
Located just to the north of University City, Mantua spreads from Spring Garden Street to Mantua Avenue and 31st to 40th streets. Mantua is a culturally-diverse neighborhood situated along the western shores of the Schuylkill River.
There are many historic brownstones and townhouses in Mantua, which come complete with wrought iron fences and wrap-around porches dating back to the early 1900s. Buyers will find many refurbished homes, but if a crafty buyer seeks a fixer-upper home in Mantua, they can visit Black Star Supply Co. on 33rd and Spring Garden Streets for all their remodeling needs.
Despite being a residential neighborhood, there are a few hidden eateries, one being Stuff’d by Jannah Jewelz, where residents can get a lamb chop dinner over stir-fried vegetables and rice.
“Commuters will fall in love with Mantua as I-76 wraps around the northeastern side of the neighborhood,” noted Epstine. “Plus, there are bus and trolley options available to travelers in the southwestern corner of the district.”
New homeowners have plenty of activities to partake in, from the Philadelphia Zoo just minutes away to the north, or the Please Touch Museum, surrounded by the acres of manicured trees and lawns of Fairmount Park.
The famed Philadelphia artist James Dupree has a studio on Haverford Avenue in Mantua, where locals and out-of-town visitors can see his studio covered in murals.
Known for eclectic building styles, cherry blossom tree-lined streets, and an expansive golf course next to Fairmount Park, Belmont Village is the perfect West Philadelphia neighborhood for homebuyers requiring access to the great outdoors.
Known as Blockley in the early 1900s, when developers first built homes in the area, the region now comprises Overbrook, Wynnfield, Belmont Village, and Wynnfield Heights. Homebuyers checking out listings in Belmont Village will find old, stone-faced homes on Lenape Road, and on nearby Conshohocken Avenue, residents can move into opulent Spanish Revival-style houses complete with terracotta tile-clad roofs.
The district is known for the split-style homes populating the streets and the cherry blossom trees lining 46th street, which turn bright pink in the springtime, drawing Philadelphians from all over the city. Nature lovers flock to Belmont Village when shopping for a home because of the seclusion and the easy access to the expansive forests of Fairmount Park.
Beyond forested hills, neighborhood explorers will find fields and groves leading up to the Belmont Mansion. If park goers wander further southwest, they will find the expansive grounds of the Mann Center for Performing Arts, where musicians ranging from Yo-Yo Ma to Stevie Ray Vaughn have belted out some serious licks.
"While outdoorsy buyers will love Belmont Village, commuters will love the neighborhood as well because of the easy access to City Center via the SEPTA train at the Bala station," said Todd Hovanec, the Director of Real Estate Services for Prevu. "While there are ample opportunities to wander nature, shoppers will rejoice to know that City Line Avenue to the north hosts numerous boutiques, retailers, and restaurants awaiting visitors."
The Bala Cynwyd Shopping Center is on the northern border of Belmont Village, where new homeowners can explore the stores and then grab groceries from the ACME Markets store.
One of the largest neighborhoods in Western Philadelphia, Cobbs Creek, is located to the west of Cedar Park and stretches a mile west to Cobbs Creek Park. Nestled along the Cobbs Creek Parkway, this region is historically known as an automobile suburb. In the 20th century, automobile owners moved into the neighborhood row homes for the distance from downtown Philadelphia and the rear alleys and backyard garages for parking.
Industrial mills used to dot the area alongside the creek, and the mill workers occupied homes nearby. But over time, the mills closed and demolished to make way for Cobbs Creek Park and the Parkway, paving the way for the developers to build a new neighborhood just west of downtown Philadelphia.
Today, Cobbs Creek is a commuter’s delight, as the Cobbs Creek Parkway takes drivers directly to University City, the Schuylkill riverfront, and central Philadelphia. Cobbs Creek is an idyllic neighborhood, and the housing stock ranges from brick-faced rowhouses to craftsman-style split twin homes sitting on tree-lined streets.
Market, Chestnut, and Walnut Street run along the northern edge of Cobbs Creek, and new homeowners in the neighborhood can find a variety of restaurants, grills, and bars on these streets. Commuters will love Cobbs Creek as there are several train stations on the northern end of the neighborhood, and residents can find the Media/Elwyn SEPTA line running on the southern end of the district.