“After years of decline, North Broad Street truly is coming back,” said consultants with Orth-Rodgers & Associates, Inc. and three other firms in a transportation and access study presented to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission.
The revitalization of North Broad Street began close to City Hall but is slowly creeping upward toward Francisville – which could mean big things for the neighborhood.
“New residential developments, commercial developments and institutional developments are giving new life to the corridor,” consultants said in the study.
Many local developers have noticed the change. In addition to increased commercial development along Broad Street in Francisville – two new restaurants have opened on the corridor in the past three years – newly constructed condos a few blocks west are selling for $400,000 or more.
David La Fontaine, program director of Community Ventures – a nonprofit affordable housing developer that has been building in Francisville for more than a decade – doesn’t seem surprised by the change.
“In neighborhoods like Francisville that are a minute away from Center City, the question is: Why did it ever get so bad?” La Fontaine said. “In Philadelphia in 1985, almost nothing was built but subsidized housing.”
La Fontaine, who said Community Ventures built actively in Francisville until they were “priced out” of the neighborhood, seemed pleased that the market has grown strong enough to sustain development without state and city subsidies.
“The neighborhood doesn’t need us to the extent that it once did,” La Fontaine said. “The market took over and is driving growth…The market is very strong in that area.”