Archives: October 2013

Halloween in Philadelphia: 2013

Posted on: October 30, 2013

Philadelphia and the surrounding region is an area steeped in so much history. It has been said the ghosts of our founding fathers still wander the moonlit streets. We have it all– ancient prison ruins, narrow cobblestone alleys and creepy old cemeteries. Grab a lantern and come with us as we explore some of the region’s best Halloween options.

Visit Philly’s Top Halloween Happenings: A thorough list of hayrides, parties and haunted houses.

Uwishunu’s Top Halloween Happenings: Another compendium of fright-tastic fun.

Philadelphia Ghost Tours: A historic, candlelit tour through the streets of Philadelphia

Trunk or Treat: A new tradition of safe Halloween tailgating.

West Mt. Airy Flashlight Parade: Celebrate Halloween with a flashlight parade.

Halloween Pub Crawls: If imbiding is your thing, click the link!

Pumpkin Patches, Hayrides and Fall Fun: Enjoying the season doesn’t have to be a spooky affair.

Philly Screams: A large list of eerie fun with discounts.

Halloween Safety: Trick or Treating is a blast, but remember, safety first. Safe Kids Worldwide has some halloween tips.

Halloween Candy Buy-Back: If you prefer the hunt but can do without the haul, you can brighten the day of a U.S. serviceman overseas!


East Mt. Airy residents prevail as abandoned site becomes public park

Posted on: October 24, 2013

(Source: Newsworks)

Philadelphia now has six more acres of public parkland, thanks to an effort kick-started by residents nearly 20 years ago.

The wild plot in East Mt. Airy, long used as a dumping site, has languished for decades. It was privately owned, but became public earlier this month after a deal brokered by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

“It is with great pleasure and satisfaction that I share with you that the city’s acquisition of the Wissahickon East parcel is complete. It is officially ours,” Mark Focht, the department’s first deputy commissioner, said in a statement sent out to nearby residents.

Neighbors first organized around the issue around 1995. In 2004, they banded together under the banner of the Wissahickon East Project to push for the parcel to become a community asset.

“I assumed that this day would come, but there were certainly some times that it looked pretty bleak because these kinds of changes are not so easy to make,” said Elizabeth Martens, who co-chairs WEP’s board. “The developer needed to cooperate with it, the city had to be in a position to accept the land and that takes time.”

The land was previously owned by DeSouza Brown Inc., which, at one time, considered building condominiums on the property.

The effort was halted in 2006 after a historical easement was placed on the property. The resident-led initiative, negotiated over several years, protected the land from development and effectively gave the city the opportunity to acquire the property.

DeSouza Brown later donated the land to the city after a bill to that end was passed in City Council.

Under the terms of the historical easement, the parcel, which straddles Cresheim Creek, will remain largely as-is save for a simple path. Now that it’s parkland, the city and volunteers can access it freely to make sure it stays clean.

The first cleanup is scheduled for Dec. 7.

“The goal is to have the land in as much of a natural state as possible,” said Martens.

The park, which runs along Cresheim Valley Drive off of Germantown Avenue, becomes public as Philadelphia considers creating a land bank to make it easier to put vacant properties to work.


Kid Friendly Philadelphia: UNIVERSITY CITY

Posted on: October 21, 2013

 

University City— We aren’t kidding around when we say University City is a family-friendly neighborhood. With a wide array of attractions, University City can be a kid’s kind of place. This neighborhood boasts many beautiful parks, a myriad of family-friendly destinations, and countless entertainment opportunities that can be fun for kids and enjoyable for the whole family. And, don’t forget, just beyond our boundaries lies Bartram’s Garden, the Philadelphia Zoo and the Please Touch Museum. So grab the family and head to University City! -University City District.

Parks/Playgrounds:

Clark Park: Established in 1895, Clark Park is in the heart of Philadelphia’s University City neighborhood. With more than 300 trees, the park covers nine acres. The park’s boundaries are Baltimore Avenue, Woodland Avenue, 43rd Street and 45th Street.

Drexel Park:  Both Powelton residents and Drexel students flock to this 2.5-acre oasis for its walking paths, benches and open green space, where picnics, Frisbee games, reading and sunbathing are the main activities. And that view—it makes a typical day in the park visually stunning.

James G. Kaskey Memorial Garden: A densely-planted botanical garden with trees, shrubs, flowers, ground cover, and grass; mulched paths and slate steps; wood and iron benches; branches, railroad ties, Belgian block, is a green space named the James G. Kaskey Memorial Garden. The garden and pond was originally created under the direction of Provost Harrison as part of the great transformation of the campus in the 1890s.

Penn Park: Penn Park, located east of the Highline and stretching from Walnut Street to South Streets, features both passive and active recreation and athletic components. Formal and informal play fields are framed and subdivided by canopy trees, lawns, and meadows.

Camp:

Philadelphia Summer Camps: A blog dedicated to Philadelphia area summer camp programs.

Attractions/ Things To Do:

Shotokan Karate: South Philly Karate Classes for All Ages (222 South 45th Street)

University City Arts League: 40 classes for all age groups being offered including pottery nearly every day (for kids and adults), capoeira (for kids and adults) and a whole set of advanced classes for 4th graders and up.
For the fourth graders the advanced classes include Calligraphy, Graphic Design and Mixed Media and Collage. New classes for younger kids include yoga, and knitting and fiber arts. See the full After-school schedule. (4226 Spruce St.)

40th Street Summer Series: University City District, The Rotunda and Penn come together again this year to present the 40th Street Summer Series, a free family-friendly outdoor concert series in University City. For nine years, the Summer Series has hosted world-renowned performers on the green space at 40th and Walnut Streets, just behind the Walnut West Free Library. This year, the series will expand to five concerts on the last Saturday of May-September, complete with Give and Take jugglers, fire artists, face painting, balloon art, and more.

The Penn Museum: If you called its 12-ton Egyptian sphinx “one in a million,” you’d be right: it is just one in a collection of nearly a million objects at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (commonly known as the “Penn Museum”)—one of the world’s finest archaeological and anthropological museums.

University City Family Fun Card: a PDF with a number of family friendly options in U-City.

Kid Friendly Restaurants / Stores:

Hip City Vedge: 214 S. 40th St.

Little Baby’s Ice Cream: 4903 Catherine St.

Bliss Juices and Ice Cream: 4420 Walnut St.

Children and Infant’s Clothing Stores:

Happy Kid (200 S 52nd St)

Other Kid Friendly Stores:

Locust Moon Comics: (34 S 40th St.)

More Info:

University City District: All About University City


Historic houses 'brought back from the brink of despair' the focus of Sunday home tour

Posted on: October 17, 2013

(Source: Newsworks)

Sunday will be a banner day for home-tour enthusiasts in Northwest Philadelphia.

As part of Historic Germantown’s fourth annual private-home tour, dramatic home restorations will be eyed from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Barbara Hogue, executive director of Historic Germantown, said that the tour aims to showcase rehabbed architectural beauties built between 1890 and 1926 in Germantown, Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill.

“Five of the six [featured] homes have really been brought back from the brink of despair,” said Hogue.

Among the homes is NewsWorks contributor Nicole Juday’s, which was featured in a New York Times story exploring how it suffered through a fire, a caved-in roof and menagerie of live-in critters before its current owners took on the task of restoring it.

The homes

What follows is a by-neighborhood rundown of Historic Germantown’s tour:

Germantown

– 4xx W. Price St. Designed by Hazelhurst & Huckel in 1890 for a prominent Philadelphia lawyer, this home features a dramatic porch and restored paneling that had been covered by previous owners for 60 years. Huckel went on to design Grand Central Station in New York City.

– 58xx Wissahickon Ave.: Designed and occupied by Philadelphia architect Joseph Miller Huston, Oaks Cloister started as a small and simple home/design laboratory. After winning the competition to design the Pennsylvania State Capitol in 1901, Huston started adding large and opulent additions to the property, including a ballroom and a below-ground beer hall.

Mt. Airy

– 65xx Lincoln Drive: Designed by architectural firm of Duhring, Okie & Ziegler in 1899, this home was built in an even-then historic colonial-revival style, but featured cutting-edge amenities like the “Kenney Flushometer” toilet. Current owners continue to bridge historic and modern tastes, restoring the home and decorating it with modern works of art.

– 3xx Pelham Road: Owned by a cigar-manufacturing magnate before his business went bust in 1914, it changed hands for many years before being bought by the United House of Prayer for All People of the Church on the Rock of the Apostolic Faith. Quirky paint jobs and gradual disrepair ensued until the current owners purchased the house in 2008.

– 1xx Pelham Road: Boyd & Boyd architects designed the property with technical flourishes big and small, from the carved Indiana limestone on the facade to the two-story bay windows. Occupied by Combs College of Music from 1964 to 1985, the house now shows no signs of its previous incarnation.

Chestnut Hill

– 4xx W. Chestnut Hill Ave.: Oldest of the six featured properties, and the only not to undergo a dramatic restoration, this home was built as a wedding present in 1926 and appears on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in the Norman style, the house merges interior and exterior spaces with a loggia, a screened porch, and a stone terrace guiding visitors to the outdoor swimming pool.

Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 on the day and are available by calling (215) 843-6333, or by visiting http://mtairylearningtree.org/historic-house-tour/. On Sunday, tickets can be purchased at Mount Airy Learning Tree, 6601 Greene St.

Tour proceeds will benefit Historic Germantown and Mt. Airy Learning Tree, a self-described “neighbors teaching neighbors” community-based non-profit corporation.

Separate tour in East Falls

Also on Sunday, the East Falls Community Council will lead the East Falls House Tour from noon to 4 p.m.

With stops at a former rectory and the 3580 Indian Queen Lane Officestickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the tour.

Attendees can head to the East Falls Presbyterian Church, 3800 Vaux St., between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. to pick up the House Tour Program Book & Map


Some Events We Are Sponsoring This Weekend!

Posted on: October 15, 2013

click on the links below for more information or to register:


Kid Friendly Philadelphia: PASSYUNK SQUARE / EAST PASSYUNK

Posted on: October 14, 2013

Passyunk Square / East Passyunk— Passyunk Square is a dynamic South Philadelphia neighborhood. The very best of old-school Philly paired with a new and exciting nightlife, the Passyunk neighborhood has much to offer for single people and families alike. From the rustic charm of the Italian market to the hip East Passyunk corridor, Passyunk Square is a place you’d be proud to call home. Below are some family friendly destinations in the neighborhood.

Parks/Playgrounds:

Palumbo Rec Center: Structured programing for children and adults of all ages, Indoor and outdoor Basketball courts, Softball field, Football field, Summer camp, and After School Programing. (700 S. 9th St.)

Columbus Square Rec Center:  Sports, Arts classes, camp for children of all ages. (1200 Wharton St.)

Camp:

Philadelphia Summer Camps: A blog dedicated to Philadelphia area summer camp programs.

Attractions/ Things To Do:

AmeriKick Karate: South Philly Karate Classes for All Ages (1617 Snyder Ave.)

Fleisher: Art Classes in South Philly (719 Catherine St.)

Kid Friendly Restaurants / Stores:

Kid Friendly Restaurants:

Belle Cakery (1437 East Passyunk Avenue)

Capogiro Gelateria (1625 East Passyunk Avenue)

Favors and Flavors (1827 East Passyunk Avenue)

Ms. Goody Cupcake (1838 East Passyunk Avenue)

Rita’s Water Ice (1356 East Passyunk Avenue)

Zoey’s Yogurt Bar (1207 S. 9th Street)

Green Olives Cafe (1941 East Passyunk Avenue)

Karina’s (1520 E Passyunk Ave)

Marra’s (1734 E. Passyunk Ave)

Children and Infant’s Clothing Stores:

A Star Is Born (1821 East Passyunk Avenue)

Bella Baby Boutique (1842 East Passyunk Avenue)

Boystown and Girlstown (1708 East Passyunk Avenue)

The Painted Lady (1910 East Passyunk Avenue)

Sweet Alyssa (1817 East Passyunk Avenue)

Cloth (1605 East Passyunk Avenue)

Other Kid Friendly Stores:

Sammi’s Shoe Box (1918 East Passyunk Avenue)

South Philly Comics (1840 East Passyunk Avenue)

More Info:

Passyunk Square: All About Passyunk Square

Visit East Passyunk: All About East Passyunk

 


Six Smart Home Remodeling Tips

Posted on: October 10, 2013

Your home is your castle. It reflects your taste and personality,  and it should. But if you are thinking of selling anytime in the near future, make sure your remodel is appealing to a wide variety of tastes, not just your own. Ditch the purple shag carpet and gold and marble bathroom for something a bit more sensible. Below are some tips to consider when you head into your next home project:

(Source: Frontdoor.com)

Match Materials To The Neighborhood

Using Low-end remodeling finishes in a high-end neighborhood diminishes your home’s value, and putting high-end finishes in a lower priced neighborhood won’t push your home’s sale price much above the last sale price.

Do The Job Right

If you can’t do professional quality remodeling work, hire someone who can. Nobody pays top dollar for amateur workmanship.

Blend In With The Neighbors

If you over-improve, you’ll get less at resale. Would you pay full-price for a mansion located in a trailer park?

Think Timeless

Today’s trendy remodeling finish choices are tomorrow’s dated decor. Even a beautifully executed remodeling project fades in value over time. Brass bathroom fixtures, anyone?

Finish Existing Space First

A remodel that turns storage areas (think basement or attic) into useable space trumps adding completely new rooms. It’s cheaper to finish existing spaces than add new ones.

Make Sure Additions Aren’t Really Subtractions

A third bedroom transformed into a walk-in closet might bring you bliss, but it eliminates a bedroom and will lower your home value at resale.


Kid Friendly Philadelphia: ROXBOROUGH / MANAYUNK

Posted on: October 7, 2013

Roxborough / Manayunk— Manayunk and Roxborough are family neighborhoods in Northwest  Philadelphia; Hilly enclaves along the Schuylkill River. Once a center of industry, with textile mills and factories, Manayunk is now a lively district dotted with bars, restaurants, nightclubs and plentiful shopping. Children are ubiquitous and families fill the row homes of modern day Roxborough and Manayunk. Below are some family friendly destinations in the area.

Parks/Playgrounds/ Pools:

Gorgas Park: The central park of the Roxbrough-Manayunk community. (6300 Ridge Ave.)

Allens Lane Playground: A wooded escape. (Allen’s Lane between McCallum and Green)

Pretzel Park: Formerly Manayunk Park, Pretzel Park overlooks Main Street in the middle of town. With a playground, dog park and many benches, Pretzel Park is operated by the Philadelphia Department of Recreation and often receives financial help from the neighborhood group Friends of Pretzel Park. The iconic metallic pretzel was installed in 2005. (Cresson St & Roxborough Ave.)

Houston Rec Center: Houston Playground has a wide range of programs for all ages. (900 Grakyn Ln.)

Kendrick Rec Center: Karate, Gymnastics, Zumba and More. (5800 Ridge Ave.)

Freedom Valley YMCA:  Pool, classes, camp for children of all ages. (19 W. Linfield Rd.)

Camp:

Philadelphia Summer Camps: A blog dedicated to Philadelphia area summer camp programs.

Attractions/ Things To Do:

Aikido Association of North America: Kids Classes Available (5836 Henry Ave.)

AmeriKick Karate: Karate Classes for All Ages (8500 Henry Ave.)

Manayunk-Roxborough Art Center: The Manayunk Roxborough Art Center (MRAC) is a non-profit educational institution which offers a full range of creative educational services to residents of the Manayunk-Roxborough community as well as the greater Philadelphia area. (419 Green Street)

Manayunk Sport and Social Club: Philadelphia’s largest organizer of adult coed sports. (Venice Island Rec Center)

Kid Friendly Restaurants / Stores:

Manayunk and Roxborough Kid Friendly Restaurants via Urban Spoon

Worn Yesterday: Kids Clothing (4228 Main St)

Game Stop: Video Games (8500 Henry Ave)

More Info:

Roxborough.us: All About Roxborough

Manayunk.com: All About Manayunk


Government Shutdown: What's Open and What's Not in the Real Estate Industry

Posted on: October 3, 2013

(Source: Realtor.com)

The US Government, unable to approve a continuing resolution for funding government operations, shut down on September 30th for the first time in 17 years. What does this spell for a Realtor or the housing market in general? It means that many government organizations and programs have closed down or have drastically slowed their operations. Below is a list of some entities that may or may not be affected by the shutdown and how it may affect your business:

IRS: The IRS is closed and has suspended the processing of all forms, including tax return transcripts (Form 4506T). These transcripts are required for many kinds of loans, including FHA and VA.

SSA: The Social Security Administration is closed and has suspended most customer service functions. According to the SSA Contingency Plan, verifying Social Security numbers through the Consent Based SSN Verification. Service will also be suspended during the shutdown, a further complication for mortgage processing.

FHA: HUD’s Contingency Plan states that FHA will endorse new loans in the Single Family Mortgage Loan Program, but it will not make new commitments in the Multi-family Program during the shutdown. FHA will maintain operational activities including paying claims and collecting premiums. Management & Marketing (M&M) Contractors managing the REO portfolio can continue to operate. You can expect some delays with FHA processing.

VA Loan Guaranty Program: Lenders will continue to process and guaranty mortgages through the Loan Guaranty program in the event of a government shutdown. Expect some delays during the shutdown.

Flood Insurance: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confirmed that the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will not be impacted by a government shutdown, since NFIP is funded by premiums and not tax dollars. Changes to the flood insurance program scheduled to take effect on October 1 will be implemented as scheduled.

Rural Housing Programs: For the U.S. Department of Agriculture programs, essential personnel working during a shutdown do not include field office staff who typically issue conditional commitments, loan note guarantees, and modification approvals. Thus, lenders will not receive approvals during the shutdown. If the lender has already received a conditional commitment from the Rural Development office, then the lender may proceed to close those loans during the shutdown. A conditional commitment, which is good for 90 days, is given to a lender once a USDA Underwriter approves the loan. If a commitment was already issued, the funds were already set aside and the lender may close the loan at its leisure. If Rural Development has not issued a conditional commitment, the lender must wait until funding legislation is enacted before closing a loan. It is important to note that the traditional definition of “rural” for qualifying communities for assistance will be continued in effect during the shutdown. We expect that language to continue the current definition will be included in whatever funding measure is eventually enacted.

Treasury: The Making Home Affordable program, including HAMP and HAFA, will not be affected as the program is funded through the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act which is mandatory spending not discretionary.

Analysts have suggested that a quick resolution to the temporary government shutdown should not adversely affect the market long-term and will have a minimal impact, if any, on homebuyers.