From quaint pedestrian alleys straight out of the 18th century to the bustling sidewalk cafes of Midtown Village, Washington Square West – bounded by 7th and Broad, Chestnut and South Streets – is a neighborhood that blends the best of old and new.
Stephen Ferguson, a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Fox & Roach Realtors, says Washington Square West residents have it all. They can enjoy the neighborhood’s quintessential charm just steps from boutique shopping and trendy restaurants and bars. In contrast to Rittenhouse Square’s “more intense, dramatic and energetic hustle,” Ferguson describes Washington Square as “idyllic, a peaceful cocoon amidst the bustle of the city.”
While some people hunt here for their first house, new residents tend to be more advanced buyers who are looking for a lifestyle upgrade, like a shorter commute or more amenities.
Buying in Washington Square West “is more than just about brick and mortar,” Ferguson confides. “It’s an opportunity to own a piece of Philadelphia history.”
And history is important here. Washington Square West is home to America’s oldest theater – Walnut Street Theatre – and its first public hospital, founded by Ben Franklin in 1751. Even the park for which the neighborhood is named was part of William Penn’s original design for his “greene country towne.”
While the neighborhood’s residential quarter retains a sense of timelessness, its business districts have undergone a metamorphosis over the past decade and now thrum with 21st century vibrancy. The staid antique shops that once dotted Pine Street have largely given way in favor of stores selling stylish home design and fashion. And a tidal wave of urban renewal transformed 13th Street south of Chestnut from a seedy stretch of peep shows, check-cashing businesses and empty lots into one of the city’s hippest districts.
Jason Evenchik, who counts Time, Bar and Tiki among his city-wide dining and drinking empire, was one 13th Street’s pioneers. When he opened his first business here in 2006, he recalls the bar scene consisted mainly of Irish pubs – crowd pleasers like Fergie’s and McGillin’s – and gay bars. But Evenchik and his wife, who lived nearby, decided to take a chance on something different: they opened a wine bar. Vintage was an instant success and as they prospered, so did Midtown Village, as it was now branded by the newly-formed merchants’ association. Soon other entrepreneurs followed, most notably Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran. The pair’s nine boutiques and restaurants – such as Lolita and Barbuzzo – have helped make the neighborhood a mecca for foodies.
Informally dubbed the Gayborhood, this area is also a destination for anyone seeking LGBT-friendly establishments. Stalwarts like Woody’s and Tavern on Camac (don’t miss the nightly piano bar) are now joined by newcomers like Boxers, a gay sports bar. Evenchik contends that the neighborhood’s vitality is due, in large part, to its diversity and tolerance. “When I look at my clientele, I see lawyers, hairdressers and bartenders; gay and straight; black and white. They’re a microcosm of the city itself, diverse and open-minded.”
ON THE MARKET
237 S. Quince St.
2 bedrooms, 1 bath
Live on one of the city’s most enchanting streets in this lovely historic Trinity. Although only a bit over a thousand square feet, this pint-sized charmer has a spacious living room and dining area, which opens into a kitchen expansion. The second floor features two bedrooms and a bath, and a third level loft is ready for conversion into additional living space. Character details include hardwood floors and an original wood-burning fireplace.
Contact: Philip Cavalcanto, Coldwell Banker Preferred-Center City at (267) 238-1063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1023 Clinton St. #205
$1,695 per month
1 bedroom, 1 bath
Clinton Street packs a lot of charm into its scant two blocks and this meticulously maintained one-bedroom, one bath apartment in The Clinton puts you right at the center of it. Soaring ceilings, large windows and views of the tree-lined street are just some of the reasons to love this sunny second floor unit. There’s also an open and spacious living/dining area, as well as an updated kitchen and in-unit washer/dryer. A beautifully manicured, shared rear courtyard is great for entertaining. Available for move-in August 2017.
Contact: Emily Nussbaum, Keller Williams Main Line Realty (610) 520-0100
An ever-evolving mural of famous “Franks” – Pope Francis was added just in time for the Pontiff’s 2015 visit – points the way to this Philly institution. Named one of the city’s best dive bars by Travel + Leisure, Dirty Frank’s – which opened in 1933 – is the kind place it feels like anything could happen. Skip the cocktails and plunk down $2.50 – Dirty Frank’s is cash only – for the Special (a pony of Rolling Rock and a Kamikaze Shot).
347 S. 13th St.
If it weren’t so good at everything, Double Knot could be accused of having an identity crisis. Is it a coffee shop, a bar, a lunch counter or a swank Japanese restaurant? The answer, happily, is all of the above. The tranquil, urban-rustic interior invites patrons to linger over a cup of hand-poured coffee or settle in with a Double Knot Punch. For the full experience, snag a table at the subterranean, speakeasy-like izakaya, which serves small plates perfect for sharing.
120 S. 13th St.
WHAT IT COSTS
$590,000 median sale price for a single family home
$336,900 median sale price for a 2 bedroom/2 bath condo
$1,850 per month median rental price for a 2 bedroom/1 bath apartment
NEW IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
A new high-rise apartment building at 1213 Walnut Street – nicknamed Fergie Tower for the adjacent landmark bar – has begun pre-leasing. Studios start at $1,800, with one- and two-bedroom units beginning at $1,900 and $3,000 respectively. The first residents move in at the end of July and can expect amenities like 24-hour concierge service and a 25th-floor rooftop terrace with built-in grills and TVs. If you get thirsty, there’s self-serve coffee and tea or you can just pop next door for a cold one.