If you’ve been tracing the line of development north of Brewerytown, you might have stumbled across 25 new town homes, interspersed among existing housing stock on 31st Street, between Berks and Diamond Streets. The Strawberry Mansion Town Homes, as per their namesake, reside in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood, near the eastern edge of Fairmount Park. Since their completion in 2011, only six of these affordable housing units have been sold and occupied, which could be an indication of the salability of the remaining homes.

In the past

Same corner, yesterday

“I think the neighborhood gets an unfair, bad rap,” says Sierra Thomas, an attorney from the Friends Rehabilitation Program Inc., the organization that developed the properties with assistance from federal and city agencies. “We shouldn’t have any problems selling them in the same way people do selling properties in South Philly or the Northeast.”

The town homes are a series of two story homes with 3-4 bedrooms and 1.5-2.5 bathrooms. Included are Energy Star appliances, central air/heating, and off-street parking. Prices range between $110K-$140K, and interested parties could potentially receive an ADDI (American Dream Down-payment Initiative) closing cost grant of up to $7,500. Buyers also receive financing at 3%, meaning that monthly payments are in the $600-$800/month.

Closeup of the homes. Dig the street trees.

“Most of our interested buyers have some connection to the area,” says Thomas, “It’s a historical area that’s gone through a lot of transformations…it was also once the home to Councilman Darrel Clarke, along with a lot of other great Philadelphians.”

Thomas believes that the Strawberry Mansion Townhomes are a great addition to the area. “I encourage people to drive through the neighborhood to see how much money is being pumped into development and revitalizing the neighborhood as a whole,” says Thomas. Thomas says, “If you’re moderate to low income, you can make out with this type of deal, and be part of an up-and-coming neighborhood.”

31st and Berks

One thing is certain- the amenities of new construction are generally not seen in this neighborhood. We have doubts about whether many more people are out there, willing and able to pay these prices for these homes in this neighborhood. But who knows? Hopefully, this development will set more development in motion in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood, and lead to improvements in the area in the decades to come.

–Aaron Stella