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Report: Re-naming Philly neighborhoods doesn’t always help

Do property values benefit from a name-change?

Philadelphia is undoubtedly a city with strong neighborhood pride. But what happens when gentrification takes hold and the neighborhood you called home for years suddenly has a new name?

That’s what a recent Redfin report tried to answer based on three neighborhoods in Philadelphia that have been rebranded in attempts to shed an old reputation: Newbold, Passyunk Square, and Midtown Village.

Redfin looked at home value data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey from 2000 to 2009, a time period when each neighborhood’s name was changed. Here’s what they found:

Newbold was rebranded from a section in Point Breeze by developer John Longacre in 2003. From the start, the name became a source of contention between residents. Still, data shows that from 2000 to 2009, home values in Newbold did more than double.

Yet over in nearby Grays Ferry, home values rose even higher by 121 percent—without a name change. That shows that Newbold’s rebranding doesn’t likely deserve full credit for its rising home values. In fact, one neighborhood association so disliked its new name that it recently voted to change it to East Point Breeze Neighbors.

The findings were similar in Passyunk Square, which was re-named from Columbus Square Park in 2003. From 2000 to 2009 home values more than doubled, outpacing the city’s median value. Yet in Devil’s Pocket, home prices actually tripled.

Here’s where it gets murky, though. In 2006 developers rebranded the Gayborhood as Midtown Village. Redfin found that it took a lot longer for home values to appreciate after the re-branding. Instead, it was rents that experienced the big hike of 27 percent. This may be a result of the neighborhood focusing more on creating a business district versus a new neighborhood.

Here’s how all three neighborhoods compare to Philadelphia in general:

Based on these three case studies, the report says it doesn’t seem like a name-change truly helps build a neighborhood identity.

Newbold's new name is East Point Breeze Neighbors [Curbed Philly]