Home repair costs in Philadelphia metro, a comprehensive look at proposed Sixers arena

Have you been putting off a repair project or two in your home because of how expensive it is? You’re not the only one.

Last year, all the home repairs needed in the Philly area would have cost a total of $3.7 billion.

That’s a lot of money. But it’s a conservative estimate.

The price of everything has been going up, and that includes home repairs, according to a new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Unsurprisingly, households with lower incomes are more likely to have recurring repair needs.🔑

Keep reading for my story on that and to look inside a “nostalgia center” in South Jersey, learn why a Doylestown couple gave up their bedroom for their sons, guess how much a Chestnut Hill home sold for, and consider whether Philadelphia needs a new sports arena.

📮 Have you had an interesting — good or bad — home repair experience? For a chance to be featured in my newsletter, email me your story.

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— Michaelle Bond

For this story, I talked to 65-year-old Deborah Sheard, a homeowner in West Philadelphia. She told me how she’d wanted to stay in the 120-year-old rowhouse where she raised her daughter. But the roof leaked, her walls were damaged, and the upstairs bathroom was caving in.

Sheard is on a limited and fixed income and could afford only a few Band-Aid repairs that didn’t fix the deeper — and expensive — problems.

I’ve written before about how Philadelphia’s affordable housing strategy depends on repairing existing homes. That’s especially true as construction costs and home prices keep going up.

Some of the most common repairs needed in our region are for leaks, mold, and structural issues, which can get pricey.

Read on to find out more about the Philadelphia Fed’s research on home repairs and learn about the money Pennsylvania is giving to counties to help residents make fixes.🔑

A proposed Center City arena for the Sixers would take one-third of the Fashion District, the struggling mall that replaced another struggling mall, the Gallery.

Backers of the plan for a 18,000-seat arena see a draw for sports fans and investment in a beaten-down stretch of East Market Street that is well-connected to public transportation.

Philadelphians living in Chinatown — on the edge of the proposed arena — worry that rising rents and property tax bills could force out people and businesses.

The Sixers plan to spend $1.3 billion on the arena, which they estimate will be empty about 60% of the time. The new space would compete with the Sixers’ current home: the Wells Fargo Center, which is almost finished with a massive renovation.

Across the country, NBA teams have been on the move to make more money. If the Sixers owned their own arena, the team could control the advertising, luxury boxes, and fancy restaurants that come with it.

My colleagues Jeff Gammage and Massarah Mikati get into the sports-building boom that has reached Philadelphia and how the Sixers want to follow the trend toward downtown arenas.

The latest news to pay attention to

Fran DiBacco admits he “got a little carried away” with his vintage magazine collection. That’s an understatement.

Just off I-295 in West Deptford, Gloucester County, sits 10,000 square feet of warehouse space that he turned into a museum. He started with magazines — they take up 5,000 feet of shelves — but his collection has expanded.

The 85-year-old Southwest Philly native calls his space the Vintage Magazine Nostalgia Center.

Inside, visitors can find:

  1. Life-sized cutouts of historical figures and pop culture icons

  2. A Main Street USA

  3. Rotary phones and other artifacts

  4. Photographs, posters, flags, and advertisements

  5. A mash-up of a classic Jersey diner and a record store

My colleague Kevin Riordan is great at finding quirky, interesting stories. Take a peek inside DiBacco’s celebration of what the collector calls “the greatest century.”

The Giacalone family has made sure every member has the perfect space for creativity in their Doylestown Colonial. Parents Pier and Jennifer even gave up their bedroom to make it happen.

Sixteen-year-old Rolley has a passion for playing music and needed space for instruments.

Seventeen-year-old Ben is an author who needed space to write.

Jennifer, an author who’s working on a screenplay, and Pier, a music producer, both work from home and needed their own spaces, too. Pier had to temporarily downsize his business from a 3,000-square-foot recording studio in New Hope to the family’s garage, since business slowed during the pandemic.

Find out which famous musician signed a guitar for Pier as a present, and take a look inside the family’s home.

🧠 Trivia time 🧠

A home improvement company is testing security robots in the parking lots of stores across Philadelphia. The 400-pound robots use microphones, cameras, and sensors to report back to a monitoring team.

Question: Where might you encounter a robot on a trip to buy garden supplies this spring? This story has the answer.

📷 Photo quiz 📷

This 4-bedroom, 2½-bath twin in Chestnut Hill sold a month ago. How much did the newly renovated 1,957-square-foot home cost its new owner? (Fun fact: I’m a twin, and the first time someone told me years ago that “there are a lot of twins in XYZ neighborhood,” I got excited, then disappointed. No offense to twin homes.)

📮 Put on your Realtor hat, take your best guess at the price tag, and email me your answers.

And have you always dreamed of owning a “party barn” on a Chester County farm? Now’s your chance. A three-story farmhouse and its separate entertainment space on 8.8 acres just hit the market for more than $4.4 million.

Enjoy the photos and the rest of your week.