2016 was a big year in development and real estate for the greater Philadelphia area. Here, we’ll take a look back at the biggest and most important real estate stories of the year, including those that had the biggest impact on the city as a whole.
Critics Continue to Take Shots at PHA for Sharswood Plans
Per a press release from the Philadelphia Housing Authority, or PHA, 2016 was a “very fulfilling year”. Earlier in 2016, the agency laid off some 126 people, though they referred to it as a form of restructuring that would allow them to serve more households. The PHA is still being criticized to this day for grabbing up land in the Sharswood area, not only for their own headquarters, but also for apartments that are part of the Sharswood/Blumberg Neighborhood Transformation Plan. The road remains rocky per the critics, and some brokers claim that the PHA essentially denied African-American homeowners in that neighborhood an opportunity to reap the benefits of their investments.
More New Apartments Cause Affordable Housing Issues
Although Greater Philadelphia is continuing to recover quickly from the housing crisis and home values are on the rise, the real growth in the city is in the multifamily sector. New apartment buildings are going up in neighborhood across the city, which would theoretically give residents more options and thereby boost the housing economy in the area. Unfortunately, this didn’t prove to be the case. All the growth is occurring in the higher end of the market, with very little attention being given to affordable housing for low-income families. In fact, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia found that affordable apartment availability has fallen by a quarter since 2000.
The Battle of the Malls
The gap between rich and poor in Greater Philadelphia seemed to get even broader in 2016, especially on the brick-and-mortar sales front. Some malls, such as the King of Prussia, thrived by adding new boutiques and expanding upon their already strong reputations. Others, such as the Granite Run Mall, didn’t fare as well. In fact, it’s slated to be torn down in favor of a mixed-use development filled with entertainment venues, apartments, and even offices. Some of this trouble is the direct result of the convenience of online shopping; consumers simply don’t shop in brick-and-mortar venues as often, and online prices are often far more competitive.
Real Estate Professional Elected to City Council
With all of the development going on in the Greater Philadelphia area, it only made sense to have a real estate expert on the city council. Allan Domb, who owns one of the most well-known brokerages (and who is also a property manager himself), and who is also the chair of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors, filled that role. He’s already made several proposals to further boost development. One of these involves doubling the length of the current property tax abatement on lower-priced homes to 20 years.
Big things happened in the Greater Philadelphia area in 2016, and while some were viewed as positive, others weren’t met with the same level of acceptance. These headlines shaped the year in real estate, and per some experts, they may continue to shape development in the area for many years to come.