Washington Square West!
Why We Don't Like It: Washington Square West isn't for everyone. It's very much an urban neighborhood and the streets can be busy. 13th St. gets very crowded on weekends and prostitutes are known to work 12th St. below Walnut St. Those hidden side streets, while wonderfully quaint picturesque during the day, can get down-right seedy and dark after hours. Finally, the housing stock in general makes it difficult for some buyers to find their ideal home. Due to the large number of hospitals and commercial spaces, there often aren't that many homes available for sale at any given time. Prices, for the most part, eliminate many 1st-time buyers. Grand townhomes easily exceed $500K and many of the historic expanded-trinities have been rented for years. When they do become available, they need substantial renovation and the overall colonial scale often does not coincide with today's buyer in search of an open floor plan.
Housing Stock: Homes in Washington Square West definitely parallel what you would find in a large urban environment. Condos and grand single-family residences are intermixed with commercial and institutional properties along with apartment buildings and mixed-use properties. The northern end of the neighborhood is certainly dominated by hospitals, restaurants, retail and municipal buildings. Residential housing is primarily concentrated on the southern end of the neighborhood from Spruce St. to South St. A few medium to large condo buildings exist but most condos are located in converted townhomes. Many of these buildings are large, housing 4-6 units. Single-family properties vary in size and scope. Grand and historic period homes exist on the main streets. Smaller 3-story residences with shallower lot depths can be found on the secondary blocks. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the colonial homes found on the hidden cobblestones side streets such as Quince St., Jessup St., and Fawn St.
Price Points: Many 1-bedroom condos can be found for $300K or less. Beware of the condo fees in buildings such as Strickland Row which make the mortgage payment for a $300K condo seem like you're purchasing a $500K single-family home. Many 2-bedroom condos in well-managed buildings on picturesque blocks like Clinton St. can approach $500K. As noted above, inventory is sometimes an issue and there often isn't a lot available for sale. Those single-family places that do hit the market tend to sell quickly. Many homes will sell in the $500K to $650K spectrum with certain homes approaching $1 million. It will really come down to location, size and condition.
Places of Interest: Jeweler's Row, Jefferson University Hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital, Wills Eye Institute, Washington Square Park, Kahn Park, Seger Recreation Center, McGillin's Olde Ale House, Forrest Theater, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Antique Row.
Food/Restaurants: Mercato, Kanella, Garces Trading Company, Barbuzzo, Vetri, El Vez, Caribou Cafe, Mixto, Jake's Sandwich Board, Raw, Jones, Morimoto, Varga Bar, Talula's Garden, Amis, The Farm and Fisherman.
Schools: McCall Elementary, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
The Bottom Line: If Rittenhouse Square isn't your speed, Washington Square West is just as likely to give you that "Manhattan of Philadelphia" vibe. It's very much a city at your doorstep neighborhood. You're literally in the middle of it all and can conveniently access all parts of Center City in any direction. Food and restaurants abound as do hospitals and public transportation. Housing is mixed with condos for singles and young professionals and single-family places for families and empty-nesters. It's also a great place to live/work/play if you're connected to the LGBT community. Remember the streets can be busy while certain areas feel dark and seedy late at night.