The school, with math and reading rankings well above the state average, has helped make the community one of the most sought-after in the city, bringing rapid change in a neighborhood that was seen as gasping for air 15 years ago.
Housing prices are up, crime is down, and amenities such as Clark Park and the popular neighborhood swimming pool have been upgraded. And there are a lot more children...."The catchment area has turned it into a stable family neighborhood, with kids on almost every street," said Andrew Meloney, the West Philadelphia planner for the City Planning Commission.
From the beginning, the school was expected to have a healthy impact on property values.
A differential long existed, with homes closer to Penn, the city's largest private employer, costing more than those farther away. But the gap has widened since Penn Alexander opened, and now a house in the catchment area will cost about $100,000 more than the same house across the line, according to Kevin Gillen, vice president of Econsult, an economic-consulting firm in West Philadelphia, and an expert in the Philadelphia housing market.