April 12, 2017
Lansdowne makes the “Inky.”
This past Sunday, real estate blogger Shannon Rooney, profiled Lansdowne in the Inquirer’s Property Line section. Always pleased with free press, I was happy to see Rooney highlight our “Victorian architecture and arts organizations.” She went on to say that our real estate has “remained a steady bet for the last few years.” And it got me thinking. There is no doubt that our town is affordable, walkable and transit-oriented – but what about value?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Lansdowne has over 4,500 occupied housing units. Approximately half of our housing units were built prior to 1939, and the remaining 40% were built between 1940 and 1959. No surprise here, you can see that walking around town. The Census Bureau indicates that in 2015 the median home value in Lansdowne was $159,100. There are many factors that drive our property values, many beyond the LEDC’s scope. There are however, a few things that we know we can do, and have done.
In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) awarded the LEDC $250,000 for neighborhood improvements in the South Lansdowne area. Through this initiative, known as the Elm Street Program, we improved the exteriors of 16 owner-occupied homes and nine apartment buildings, made sidewalk and park improvements, planted trees and more. More importantly, we leveraged more than $1 million in other public and private funding. Landlords and homeowners provided matching funds, other organizations contributed to property improvements such as lead-based paint remediation, weatherization, and vacant home rehabilitation. Just last month, the LEDC received another $50,000 to continue our work in this neighborhood.
To build on Elm Street’s success in South Lansdowne, the LEDC is submitting a concept proposal to the DCED that would expand our scope of work to include the ENTIRE Borough. This proposal focuses on two overarching goals:  reduce the number of absentee landlords and increase owner-occupied housing, and  reduce vacancy rates and increase property values. We are hoping to engage the DCED in a partnership to address these issues and make important advances throughout Lansdowne.
-Ellen Lustgarten, LEDC Board Chair