Saturday, August 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Town By Town: Eastwick conveniently located but feeling overlooked

South 78th Street. Residents think City Hall has started to see Eastwick´s promise. (Tom Gralish / Staff Photographer)
South 78th Street. Residents think City Hall has started to see Eastwick's promise. (Tom Gralish / Staff Photographer)
South 78th Street. Residents think City Hall has started to see Eastwick´s promise. (Tom Gralish / Staff Photographer) Gallery: Town by Town: Eastwick

One in a continuing series spotlighting real estate markets in this region's communities.

What is Eastwick, and where is it?

It's a neighborhood at the southwestern edge of the city, next door to Philadelphia International Airport and Delaware County.

"When you talk about Eastwick, are you talking about 65th Street down by Lindbergh Boulevard and up to 80th?" asked George Moscony, broker at the real estate firm founded by his grandfather in 1941 in neighboring Elmwood Park, where he grew up.

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    "Crazy, isn't it?" Moscony said with a laugh.

    The phenomenon of squishy borders is common to most neighborhoods in Philadelphia, of course. But Eastwick's situation is complicated by the airport and the industrial base around it.

    One would think Eastwick would be better known and appreciated because of its location close to Philadelphia International and I-95, even if its boundaries aren't immediately identifiable.

    That's not the case, though.

    Jill Minick bought her house in 1977 for $36,000 because it was close to her teaching job in Darby, and she has lived in Eastwick ever since.

    She believes, as do many other residents, that City Hall has historically neglected Eastwick, remembering it only when it needs to dump something there.

    "Remember the commercial 'Give it to Mikey'?" asked Terry Williams, a lifelong resident and president of the Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition.

    "We're Mikey," he said.

    Yet City Hall has started listening to Eastwick more, Williams and Minick said, since the neighborhood group and environmentalists persuaded Councilman Kenyatta Johnson in June 2012 to table a proposal by Korman Corp. to rezone 35 acres of green space adjacent to John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge for 722 rental apartments.

    "The refuge is a natural asset," Williams said, adding that any development would have a negative impact on wildlife and the marshland in what Eastwick residents consider their backyard.

    The city Water Department has been in Eastwick recently, looking at drains and pipes to try to reduce the chance of flooding, Williams said, while the Environmental Protection Agency met with residents recently to discuss the cleanup of the Clearview Landfill.

    "You look at Northern Liberties, Society Hill, and even Kensington," Williams said. "We have the potential, and we are a nice place to live. We should have advanced, as well."

    Around the Airport Line's Eastwick station at 84th Street and Bartram Avenue stands a pocket of pre-World War II housing, one of the few places in the neighborhood where homes were not washed away by floods in 1955.

    The housing stock here dates from the late 1950s to the early 1980s, and much of it - as was the case with Minick's house - was built by Korman.

    Flooding has always been an issue in Eastwick. Williams said the neighborhood took a hit from Hurricane Floyd in 1999, and it was targeted for evacuation last fall, when Mayor Nutter thought Hurricane Sandy would score a direct hit on the city.

    One of the major objections the Eastwick neighbors had to the rezoning sought by Korman was that there would be building in a flood zone, Williams said.

    "That doesn't make much sense," he noted.

    In talking about residential Eastwick and its real estate, Moscony is blunt.

    "The market is horrible and has been that way for the last couple of years," he said.

    He added that prices have fallen $20,000 since the last decade's housing boom because "appraisals are hard."

    "One in every 100 buyers here qualifies for a mortgage," he said.

    An updated house in pristine condition can bring the owner between $100,000 and $130,000, he said. "Five years ago, it would have gone for $150,000 to $160,000."

    Recently, Moscony sold a house at 66th and Harley Streets to a couple from Northeast Philadelphia for $150,000.

    "It was beautiful and top-of-the-line updated," he said. "They fell in love."

    "Eastwick is quiet and one of the better neighborhoods," Moscony said, but "a lot of the houses here have really been beaten up because they aren't taking care of them."

    Investors are here looking for bargains, but, unlike the boom years, these people are buying "just to rent them," Moscony said.

    "Before, they would buy them, make them into a nice product, and flip them," he said.

    Minick was drawn by the neighborhood's quiet nature, as well as its location. And the affordable prices meant she could have a nice yard.

    "It also was a truly integrated neighborhood," although that has changed since, Minick said. "People aged and moved to apartments or elsewhere."

    She said a lot of promises made by developers - the ability to walk to shopping from your house, for example - haven't been kept.

    On the other hand, the Eastwick SEPTA station - a condition set by PNC Bank if it was to keep its operations center in the city - has been a big plus for the neighborhood, which for years had to depend on just the Route 37 bus for public transit, Minick said.

    "Still, Eastwick is the city's stepchild," she said.

    Williams said he believes Eastwick needs to overcome 40 or 50 years of neglect, starting when urban renewal "devastated the neighborhood."

    "We're geographically well-situated, we have lots of amenities, and we're willing to work with the city to bring about real change," he said.

    "We aren't Mikey anymore."

     


    Town By Town: Eastwick By the Numbers

    Population: 12,259 (2010)

    Median income:

    $48,461 (2010)

    Area: 6.9 square miles

    Homes for sale: 157

    Settlements in the last three months: 14

    Median days on market: 98

    Median sale price (single-family homes): $84,125

    Median sale price

    (all homes): $84,125

    Housing stock: Primarily built 1950s through 1970s

    School district: Philadelphia

    SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau; City-Data.com; Trulia.com; Realtor.com


    Contact Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472, aheavens@phillynews.com, or @alheavens at Twitter.

    Alan J. Heavens Inquirer Real Estate Columnist