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

Borough Council President John M. Pizza wasn't the first, but he was the most authoritative person to recommend not leaving Bridgeport without first having a doughnut from Suzy-Jo's.

At 11:30 a.m. on a recent Wednesday, the pickings were slim at the popular Fourth Street bakery, but a sourdough doughnut helped the borough across the Schuylkill from Norristown make a good first impression.

Bridgeport, the first stop on the Norristown High Speed Line from the Montgomery County seat, seems to be on the edge of a residential real estate boom, although there is already a lot of evidence of new-home construction on those hillside streets. Some houses date from the height of the market between 2003 and 2005, but others are of much more recent vintage.

Though rowhouses dominate the industrial neighborhoods adjacent to the river, brick and stone singles and semidetached homes dating from the late 19th century through the 1960s are what you'll find in the hills.

One exception is the newer townhouses on Mill Street between Third and Second Streets, which mix in with industrial buildings and well-kept, but smaller rowhouses.

"It isn't that active a market," says Gary Segal, of Keller Williams Real Estate in Blue Bell, noting that just 62 houses were sold in all of 2015.

In fourth-quarter 2015, 17 houses went to settlement, compared with nine in the last three months of the previous year, according to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach Realtors HomExpert Market Report.

The fourth-quarter median price was $159,900 (half the houses sold for more, half for less), compared with $142,500 in the last three months of 2014, HomExpert shows - an increase of 12.2 percent year-over-year.

Average days on the market fell to 50 from 112 year-over-year, the data show.

Of the 29 single-family detached homes and townhouses listed for sale, newer ones have the higher asking prices, and those push up the median list price to $253,000, according to Weichert Realtors.

Since the middle of December, 21 homes have sold in Bridgeport, with a median price of $166,000, the data show. The highest sale price was $235,000; the lowest, $20,000.

Unlike many older communities, change appears welcome in Bridgeport.

Along the Fourth Street business corridor, $2.1 million has been spent on streetscape improvements, says Borough Manager Donald Curley.

On the second floor of Borough Hall, before you enter the council room, is a large map outlining Bridgeport's revitalization plan, which includes enhancement of the town center and upgrading of the Dekalb Street corridor.

Jody Holton, executive director of the Montgomery County Planning Commission, talks enthusiastically about construction of the Chester Valley Trail through Bridgeport, set to begin next spring.

The county received a grant for the Bridgeport loop trail, which will connect the Chester Valley Trail, Bridgeport's waterfront, and Fourth Street, Holton says.

Over the years, paper, steel, bricks, and other commodities have been manufactured in Bridgeport factories lining the river below Front Street and at the end of Fourth Street near the Upper Merion Township line.

Some older buildings now make up the Bridgeport Business Park; the modern Tube Methods plant runs along Depot Street behind Fourth Street.

Smaller firms are scattered throughout the borough and along Front Street and the railroad tracks, where freight trains rumbled several times a day.

On 29 acres along the riverfront, O'Neill Properties, widely known for brownfield development, is planning to build Bridgeview, made up of 325 townhouses and 250 rental apartments.

Bridgeview would be on the bicycle loop trail, which would connect with the Schuylkill Trail across the river in Norristown.

Gary Johnson, owner of Taphouse 23 on Fourth Street, also has a sizable number of properties in the borough, Curley says, and has plans for a couple of the churches closed in recent years.

Looking at Holton's trail map as they stood in front of Borough Hall, Pizza seemed to speak for many other lifelong Bridgeport residents:

"We don't want to look as if we are still stuck in the 1950s," he says.

Bridgeport by the numbers:

Population: 4,578 (2014)

Median household income: $46,047 (2013)

Area: 0.8 square miles

Settlements in the last three months: 21

Homes for sale: 29

Average days on market: 50

Median sale price: $166,000

Housing stock: 2,008 units, with new construction planned

School district: Upper Merion

SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau; Weichert Realtors; Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach Realtors HomExpert Market Report

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