If there is a surefire way to take the pulse of an area, then a neighborhood block party might be it.
When Andy Porter and his family moved into the Pamela Park neighborhood (PPN) a few years ago, there wasn’t a traditional summer gathering of residents. No potluck. No night games for kids. No opportunity to connect with the folks down the street before colder weather put the lock on outdoor neighborly chitchat. The second year brought forth a small get-together, but by year three, the neighborhood block party found its groove—and for that matter, so has the entire neighborhood, one house at a time.
Porter is not only a resident of PPN, he’s a partner with REFINED, a custom home building and remodeling company, which has taken the lead in revamping the neighborhood’s curb appeal. REFINED specializes in homes in “well-located, established urban and suburban neighborhoods in the Twin Cities metro area,” according to its website. The group has built six homes in the PPN, two projects are in the design phase, and it owns 13 more homes, which will eventually be torn down for new construction. The area’s population is just north of 1,300 with 527 homes, according to M.J. Lamon, project coordinator with the city of Edina. It’s bordered by Highway 100, France Ave., West 58th St. and Valley View Road.
The allure of securing an Edina zip code isn’t the primary reason homebuyers have taken a shine to the PPN area. “It’s a combination of things,” Porter says. The area’s focal point is the newly renovated Pamela Park, a 64-acre multiuse park, which recently received a $3 million shot in the arm. The improvement project, completed in 2015, includes a community gathering space that doubles as a warming house for the ice rink. It also boasts a fully lit synthetic-turf field, which is suitable for football, lacrosse, rugby and soccer. A playground, tennis courts, extensive walking trails, wetlands protected by Department of Natural Resources, and upgraded baseball and softball fields are hitting home runs with home buyers.
Allison and Rob Barmann moved last June into a PPN home to accommodate their growing family of 8-year-old twins and a 5-year-old. “We couldn’t think of anything more perfect,” Allison says of their new home. With two baseball-loving sons, having baseball fields as an extension of the family’s backyard is a win-win situation. “The woods—don’t forget the woods,” her daughter chimes in. “To have all that in the middle of Edina is pretty special,” says Allison.
Jan Storey has been in the area since 2002 and she’s watched the neighborhood gain a new, energetic spirit. On her street alone, there have been five teardowns, and more may follow. Storey puts out the welcome mat for the changes to the neighborhood’s climate. “The volume of people coming to the park has increased tenfold since the renovations,” she says. “It didn’t used to be like that.” The uptick in community activity, the presence of younger families and the pedestrian-accessible education, commercial and recreation venues appeal to Storey and other residents. “I love it,” she says. “It is exactly the kind of place people want to live.”
Buyers are attracted to the neighborhood’s location. “We love the central nature of it,” Allison says. “You can really get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time.” Easy drives to destinations not only include Twin Cities’ entertainment and sporting venues and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, but local hotspots include the beloved 50th and France area, Southdale Mall, the Galleria and an up-and-comer, the business district at Wooddale Avenue and Valley View Road. Porter says the neighborhood is served by Burley’s Hair Salon, Patisserie Margo, Neighborhood Ice Cream Shoppe, Snuffy’s Malt Shop and other businesses. With a bus line that hits the Galleria, 50th and France, Uptown, the University of Minnesota and many points between and beyond, “you’re connected to anything you want,” Porter says. “It’s a self-sustaining neighborhood. It’s great.”
Prime shopping and dining aside, education has always reigned supreme in Edina. Barmann, Storey and Porter agree that the area’s schools are a big draw. “It’s an educational hub,” Porter says, noting the neighborhood’s proximity to Concord and Normandale French immersion elementary schools and Southview Middle School; Edina High School’s varsity football team plays at the Edina Community Center’s Kuhlman Field.
Porter says the REFINED homes are also “relatively affordable,” meaning the cost of new-construction homes in the area are hovering around $1 million. “That makes it a lot more attainable,” he says, explaining the market in other Edina neighborhoods can call for higher price points. Buyers choosing PPN are typically in their early 30s to mid-40s and are mid-level executives with school-age children, Porter says. Buyers are coming from all directions, near and far. Porter explains some residents are moving from other Edina homes and the surrounding communities. Those buyers want to upgrade and settle into their “forever home,” which typically translates into 10 or 15 years. There are also international buyers, many of whom are drawn to the Twin Cities by employment opportunities with Fortune 500 companies, and settle in Edina because of its strong school system and proximity to city living. This allows for newcomers to meet people with greater ease.
If PPN is emerging as the real estate prom queen, then why are longtime homeowners willing to leave the neighborhood? It can boil down to where sellers are in their stages of life. Porter says they’re typically residents living in post-World War II homes. Their children are grown. They no longer can or want to maintain properties on their own and they’re ready to move into other living situations.
“We’re kind of revitalizing the neighborhood,” Porter says. He estimates that the building trend in the neighborhood is in the first quarter of its cycle. But not all of the elder-generation neighbors are ready to leave the homes in which they’ve raised their families and built treasured memories. “It’s a strong mix of multigenerational neighbors,” Porter says, and that is only adding to the appeal of PPN. “We love that about it,” Barmann says. “It’s great to have the kids exposed to people at all points of their lives.”
As a member of the Pamela Park Neighborhood Association, Jan Storey welcomes new residents, hoping they’ll bring with them an interest in participating in the association’s development and events. Information is available by contacting association leaders at [email protected].
(clockwise left to right): Spacecrafting Photography; Scott Amundson Photography; Emily J. Davis; Spacecrafting Photography