Queen Village calls itself “Philadelphia’s first neighborhood,” and has the 18th-century homes to prove it. Located just south of South Street along the Delaware River, ending at Washington Avenue, the area has plenty of pricey homes, well-maintained parks and an active neighbors association. Bella Vista, which starts at Sixth Street where Queen Village leaves off and runs up to 11th, shares a similar vibe.
“The neighborhoods are mirror images of each other, it’s just that Queen Village came up a little sooner,” says Prudential Fox & Roach realtor Zach Skidmore. “Not that you’d call Bella Vista ‘up and coming’ — it’s definitely established. But I’m looking forward to seeing what happens there in the next five years.”
Bella Vista has “more of a commercial/residential mix. That draws a diversity into the neighborhood,” adds resident Carla Puppin.
The whole area is full of older homes waiting to be rehabbed. In Bella Vista especially, young professionals looking to be close to jobs in Center City are buying fixer-uppers and “putting the finishing touches on,” Skidmore says.
There isn’t much new construction, compared to some of Center City’s other fringe neighborhoods; Skidmore estimates it’s about 95 percent existing homes and only 5 percent new.
“It’s a little more settled in — not quite as edgy as some of the areas further south or north. It doesn’t have that new feeling like Northern Liberties does,” says Michael Hauptman, an architect who’s lived in Queen Village since 1978 and is the chair of the zoning committee.
Compared to when Hauptman first moved in, the area is much more “upscale and thriving,” with more young people coming in and putting down roots. “When my wife and I were living here with little kids, we felt pretty alone,” he says. “Now, you practically get run over by strollers.”