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Old 09-30-2019, 04:39 AM
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
6,220 posts, read 3,054,930 times
Reputation: 3937


Originally Posted by OyCrumbler View Post
Are there any interesting conversions or redevelopment going-ons with the industrial / post-industrial eastern half? I'd think that that would be the most likely place to draw in a new crowd. Upper Darby's commercial area near its transit center looks really neat on streetview. Do you have any recommendations for a daytrip?
ActualUDResident hasn't responded yet, but I would recommend an exploration of the shopping district around 69th Street Terminal. I became quite familiar with it in the years when I worked at Widener University; sometimes, instead of taking the R2 Marcus Hook/Wilmington back into town at the end of the workday, I'd take the 109 bus to 69th Street instead so I could pick up some groceries at the H Mart supermarket there. (This Korean-American owned chain, which began life as Hanh Ah Reum [not sure I have the original name right], operates stores that carry a mix of East/Southeast Asian - heavy on the Korean, natch, but not exclusively - and American foodstuffs in a manner designed to appeal to mainstream American tastes. There's another one of these not far from where I live now, at Old York Road and Cheltenham Avenue in another area with a sizable Korean-American population.)

The mix of shops there is very multi-ethnic, more so than in any other Philadelphia-area shopping district I'm familiar with. There are very good Japanese, Korean and Peruvian restaurants, to name a few (or were when I last passed through the area; I don't know whether they're still all in business now). Off-price retailers TJ Maxx and Marshalls both have stores here, as does H&M, which did a very nice job reanimating the John H. McClatchy Building, a very colorful terra-cotta-clad structure with huge windows built in the mid-1920s directly across Market Street/West Chester Pike from the terminal. (McClatchy was a developer who built several subdivisions in West Philadelphia and the inner western suburbs.)

If you're interested in "community building" 1950s style, I'd also recommend a visit to Drexelbrook, the master-planned apartment community at Drexel Hill's south edge. There's a small shopping center at its main entrance, which is also a stop on the Route 101 trolley, and its garden apartment buildings are arranged around a very walkable network of streets and pedestrian paths. A country club of the same name is also part of the complex, and the larger Drexeline shopping center just to its northwest serves it too. (Another Route 101 station is located behind this shopping center.) This is a good example of what (some of) our suburbs could have looked like if we had designed them to work with both cars and mass transit.

Shifting gears now: It appears that according to Yardi Matrix data, Upper Darby Township is the real bargain when it comes to renting apartments in the region - but that's because they don't break the city of Philadelphia itself into submarkets. Here are highlights from the August rent report from RENTCafé, Yardi Matrix's apartment search site:
  • Philadelphia apartment rents average at $1,625 in August, after a growth of $2 compared to the previous month. Philly rents saw considerable growth over the course of a year, as they added another $66 since August 2018.
  • The Highest Rents in Philly metro are in King of Prussia, where the average is $1,680. The yearly growth was among the slowest, however, as rents here added $31 since August 2018.
  • West Chester rents are the third highest, at $1,583, but at the same time having a large yearly increase, $67 since August last year.
  • Rents in Drexel Hill are the second most affordable in the area: $1,096, but they are evolving quickly as they registered the largest increase compared to August 2018: $82 more.
  • If searching for the cheapest units to rent, Upper Darby offers the lowest prices in the region: $893, showing modest signs of increases, $1 since July and $38 since last year.

For point of reference: I pay $393 per month less than the Upper Darby average rent for the two-room studio apartment I rent on Germantown's east side.
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Old 12-25-2019, 08:31 AM
57 posts, read 15,764 times
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Originally Posted by OyCrumbler View Post
Are there any interesting conversions or redevelopment going-ons with the industrial / post-industrial eastern half? I'd think that that would be the most likely place to draw in a new crowd. Upper Darby's commercial area near its transit center looks really neat on streetview. Do you have any recommendations for a daytrip?
I apologize for the late reply but I don't check this forum all that often.

There aren't really any residential conversations I know of in what we call 19082 Upper Darby, which is the eastern half of the township. Unfortunately, the township is run by people who don't really understand the need for building up the residential fabric. They even tore down a few old houses on an intact block to build a Wawa not long ago. They don't even fix up the large apartment buildings that dominate the area near the trolley line going towards the downtown area. There has however been a hotel in the works in a former apartment block in the downtown with stores on the ground floor. I haven't heard any news on it in a few years though. Basically, the township only cares about the commercial properties in the eastern half.

I do know of a supposed loft conversion happening near the former Kent Mills in Clifton Heights or so their mayor claims. If that did actually happen, it would be one of the most transformational residential projects anywhere in the area. Those properties have been decaying and falling down for decades now, and the little area around them is where most real crime in that borough is concentrated.

Day trips depend entirely on what interests you. MarketStEl mentioned some worthwhile visits. I'd add places like the Sellers house/library (the original house dates back to the 18th Century), the Swedish Cabin off of Creek Rd in Drexel Hill along the Darby Creek (one of the oldest in the country), the Bonner/Prendie property if you like skyline views of Philadelphia, as well as the intersection of West Chester Pike and State Rd for the same reason. There's of course the Tower Theater, HMart, the many ethnic restaurants found all along and around Garrett Rd. There's a few Irish coffee/tea spots given the huge Irish population, a Thai spot at State and Burmont next to Drexel Hill Pizza, a Mexican joint in the little area off of Burmont and Garrett Rds in Drexel Hill, an Indian spot in Drexeline Shopping Center. a pizza by the slice joint at the 69th street terminal unless the overhaul got rid of it, a barbecue joint on State Road called Pig Daddy's that was written up in Philadelphia Magazine years back, and a former dive bar not too far from there turned gastropub named Station Tap that's been getting great reviews.

There's Naylor's Run, which is kind of a little wooded area near the high school that partially follows a former rail right of way and has a trail connecting it to surrounding areas. That place can be problematic sometimes though. It used to be kind of considered the official border between nice Drexel Hill and Upper Darby proper. There are some great old stone houses in that general area, a typical 1920s streetcar suburb in parts. There are also former mills and a small waterfall along the Darby Creek near the Clifton Heights/Drexel Hill border.

Some people also like to go to the Llanerch Diner that was featured in Silver Linings Playbook. It's really just a typical 1950s-70s diner no different from any in the area but you know people and movies. There's a decent little coffee shop on Long Lane in the downtown area but that street can definitely be problematic. Most of the real crime in the township happens off of Long Lane because that's where the most apartment buildings are. It's not like it's a shooting every day or anything but it's the possibility that it can happen seemingly out of nowhere. People who live in the city will roll their eyes at that but you have to understand it is a low-income area. There's some really nice buildings on that street though. I've personally always loved the municipal building, too. It kind of reminds me of the one from Back To The Future whenever I see it. It's hard to recommend restaurants/clubs because that area seems to always be changing anymore but there are a bunch of karaoke bars in the downtown if that's your kind of thing.

If you're into history and old architecture, you can really just randomly come across a building from the 18th century on seemingly anywhere in the township. I grew up right near multiple buildings from the 18th Century without even realizing they were that old. There's also a decent amount of creepy history if you're into that sort of thing. There's a Wawa next to Garretford Elementary school on property that was used as a gallows to execute soldiers. The grounds Bonner/Prendie is on used to belong to the Drexel family, and Saint Katherine Drexel opened up an orphanage and school for local kids without money in the building that now houses a satellite campus of Delaware County Community College and used to house Prendie before the two schools merged. That last one is probably more interesting than creepy.

No visit to the area would be complete without water ice if visiting in the summer, and Rosati's water ice factory/window in nearby Clifton Heights on Madison Ave is the place to go from May to early September. There are multiple great water ice spots in the city but you asked about Upper Darby so I'm not including them here.
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Old 01-03-2020, 02:53 PM
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The problem with Drexel Hill and other near by communities are taxes, traffic, congestion and age. The Upper Darby school taxes account for over half the yearly combined tax bill. Being in close proximity migration from Philadelphia makes this one of the first stops. It allows people to work/travel to the city and visit friends and relatives. But this festers traffic. Then throw in technology/gps what were residential neighborhoods and streets have become heavily used short cuts between route 1 and State Rd for example. State Rd from 3-7 PM is bumper to bumper with many of those side streets becoming cut thrus to Burmont and/or Garrett Rd. Even in middle of residential neighborhoods there are so many stop sign rollers and speeders it's dangerous to let kids even near a street..

Then aging roads including sink & pot holes along with protruding utility manholes many of which are the township's has made driving time consuming and hard on the car even for local trips. The township doesn't enforce have over night commercial vehicle parking codes which not only is unsightly but it allows businesses to use tax payer streets as a parking lot along with taking away parking spaces for people who live there. They also don't enforce commercial dumping ie contractors, sub contractors using residential trash pick up for their business trash-who throws out a complete set of kitchen cabinets or toilet every single week?

So to sum up. Drexel Hill is becoming congested, expensive and unsightly to say the least.
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