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Thread: The Montclair Boon

  1. #1
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    Jun 2003
    New Jersey

    Default The Montclair Boon



    September 27, 2003 -- ANNA and Ari Saradakos are leaving their house on Highland Avenue in Upper Montclair very reluctantly. If Anna’s dad weren’t ill, they’d stay in the artsy and peaceful town. Besides their memories, they’ll take away one very important thing: $150,000 profit — in just three years.
    That’s due to the crazy real estate market in Montclair, the tri-state’s hottest suburb.

    “The last five years have really been the biggest housing boom here,” says Joyce Slous, top Montclair sales associate for Burgdorff ERA.

    She says homes that sold for $350,000 in 1996 have nearly tripled in value since. “It’s hard to find a three-bedroom, singlefamily home for under $400,000 now,” she adds.

    Montclair — and the ritzier Upper Montclair — are luring buyers with their multi-ethnic neighborhoods, shared by the likes of Yogi Berra, makeup mogul Bobbi Brown and Bill Bradley.

    Homeowners don’t want to sell, but when they do, there’s often a bidding war.

    Take attorneys Leila and Philip Edmonds. It took them six months to find a home within their budget ($350,000 to $400,000) — only to be outbid by four other buyers.

    Finally, they bought a threebedroom Colonial by offering $40,000 over the asking price. “We know there were at least two other offers they were considering,” Leila says. “It’s a place where you just can’t bid the asking price and expect to get the house.”

    Slous says she has known buyers to offer $200,000 over the asking price to win a house, and saw 22 bidders on one property last year.

    Sharon and Josh Cohn have been on Waterbury Road since 1997, when they heard a description of Montclair as “the Upper West Side of the suburbs, with more grass.”

    They paid $385,000 for their four-bedroom, single-family house, just a few minutes walk from Watchung Avenue station, and made about $100,000 worth of improvements.

    Now the place is on the market for $899,000. “A house down the block just went for $951,000,” says Josh.

    Part of Montclair’s allure is the gorgeous old homes, many of them Victorians. Throw in a picturesque downtown with restaurants, two professional theaters, four movie theaters, art galleries and a museum, a 45-minute rushhour commute and magnet schools — and you’ve got out-ofcontrol demand.

    You don’t even need to be a seller to receive a ream of flyers and “Want to sell?” notes pushed under your door.

    Last week, Barbara and Glenn Wright were lunching in the Bluestone Cafe, one of the eateries with artwork by local artists and a mixed crowd of young moms, professional singles and couples.

    “Earlier this year we thought about selling our house,” says Barbara, 39, who works two days a week as a product developer for a Manhattan fabric supplier. “We paid $239,500 for it eight years ago and the realtors told us if we sold now it would be closer to $600,000.”

    So of course the Wrights were tempted to sell their early 1920s three-bedroom Colonial.

    “We got random notes from people looking to buy in the area — private individuals, saying ‘We are pre-approved.’ And then we would get flyers coming through the door, from realtors boasting about how much they had just sold this or that house just around the corner for,” says Glenn, 41, a freelance advertising art director.

    They talked to realtors but decided againt moving. They would need another car in their new location, and the even more spacious properties they considered in Connecticut weren’t enough to tear them away from the city they love.

    “It is important to us that this is not a homogenous town,” says Glenn. “We like the mix of colors and incomes. We are staying.”

    Instead of moving, the Wrights redid the kitchen and are now contemplating adding a third floor — something that can only push the value up even further.

    But these high-price homes also come with high taxes. “You’ll pay between $9,000 and $11,000 a year on a $400,000 house,” notes Slous.

    Despite the costs, young couples like 32-year-old Yin Chang and her 33-year-old husband, Michael D’Arcy, will continue to come here from Astoria, Queens, every weekend for a house-hunting trip.

    “Some people are asking at least twice the estimated value of the house and the houses are being snatched up quickly,” Chang says.

    “Still we think it’s a good value. We plan on having kids and we know the schools are good. The commute will be relatively easy for us and you don’t feel like you are stuck in the boonies. We want space and we think it will be ultimately a lot less expensive than living in New York.

    “A $500,000 house in Montclair,” he adds, “is still twice the size of any house in Queens at the same price.”

  2. #2
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    Jun 2003
    New Jersey



    Park Slope expatriate Debbie Kravitz in front of her new home with kids (from left) Max, Ava, and Lillian. Photo: Jeff Zelevansky
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    September 27, 2003 -- SINCE Andy Day moved from Park Slope to Montclair, the pathos and passions of suburban living have prompted him to come up with an idea for a TV series that could, one day, threaten the Law & Order franchise: “N.J. P.T.A.”
    “It would be a cross between ‘Thirtysomething,’ ‘Hill Street Blues’ and ‘Room 222,’ ” says Day, a gaffer on films, who moved to Montclair four years ago with his wife and three kids.

    Day is one of a wave of people making the westbound exodus from Park Slope to Montclair.

    “Just on my block alone there must be five other Park Slope families,” says Debbie Kravitz, who, like her husband, David, was born and raised in Brooklyn. Five years ago, they moved to Montclair with their three young children.

    “We couldn’t stay in our apartment any more,” says the pre-school teacher. “It had 1,000 square feet, and we were priced out of buying a house in Park Slope.”

    Like many who make the shift, Kravitz says Montclair is similar to Park Slope, and as urban as a suburb can get.

    The main drag, Bloomfield Avenue, has ethnic restaurants, an art museum and the kind of independent boutiques that make Park Slope’s Seventh and Fifth avenues appealing. There’s also a food co-op, Purple Dragon, many of whose founders were Park Slope Food Co-op members. Montclair has a growing lesbian community as well.

    It’s also an easy commute to work in the city. It takes David Kravitz exactly an hour door to door to get to his downtown Brooklyn office.

    Unlike “can’t park” Slope, Montclair is filled with driveways. But Day says it’s a tradeoff: Though train commuters can get to Penn Station in 45 minutes, he notes it can take “30 minutes or three hours” to drive into the city.

    Like Park Slope, Montclair is crawling with kids. But even creative types without kids are finding their way to the ’burb.

    In February, twenty-somethings Wendy and Mark Shewmaker, an advertising copywriter and Web designer, bought a two-family Colonial Revival.

    They’d wanted to stay in Park Slope, but couldn’t muster the 20 to 30 percent down payment that co-op boards wanted, and didn’t see anything for sale under $500,000. Buying their $349,000 Montclair house required only 10 percent down.

    But Montclair has held a couple of cultural shocks. None of the town’s restaurants serves alcohol, and the municipality is full of annoying ordinances, like one forbidding leaf-blowing in the summer.

    “I find it trying,” admits Wendy Shewmaker. “They’re very protective of this idyllic little town they’ve created.”

    But the biggest shock of all: taking care of a yard. “We are so not accustomed to dealing with grass,” Shewmaker says. “I’ve killed some dill.”

    They’ve since hired a gardener.

  3. #3
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    Jun 2003
    New Jersey


    The recently completed Montclair Connection which connects the Boonton line the NY Penn Station via a new connection with the Montclair Branch of the Morris and Essex line has been a huge success, Montclair now has Mid-Town Direct service to Mid-Town Manhattan (NY Penn).

    The Montclair line has service to both NY Penn and Hoboken via Newark Broad street, the line has excellent bi-directional service all day long Mon-FRI. The problem is that the Montclair/Booton line is one of two (the other being the Pascack Valley line) of NJ Transit's 11 rail lines that does not offer Weekend service.

    Work is underway to build passing sidings along the Pascack valley line to allow Weekend service, leaving only the Montclair/Boonton line without Weekend service. The towns have been fighting the introduction of weekend service, hopefully as the towns continue to draw NYC residents and the demand for Weekend Service to Manhattan (as well as other trips such as Newark Airport via Secaucus transfer) will allow NJ Transit to introduce the service.

    Also the construction of a new Montclair State University station which is being built not just for students but includes a huge new commuter parking garage will increase demand weekend service.

    New Montclair State University Rail station and regional commuter parking garage..

  4. #4

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by msands7 View Post
    New luxury boutique hotel coming to downtown Montclair:!New-...f28f7f9b9914f3
    Cool design in that rendering on your news blog!

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by towerpower123 View Post
    Cool design in that rendering on your news blog!
    Thank you! And yes, the building looks like it is going to be stunning. Great addition to Montclair!

  7. #7
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    Jun 2006
    Jersey City/Harrison, NJ

    Thumbs up Boutique Project Approved for Bloomfield Ave Corridor

    This project is relatively small, but a big step forward for the Bay Street station area:

    Montclair OKs joint venture’s new rental project

    MARCH 17, 2017


    A rendering of The Vestry, a planned 46-unit rental community in downtown Montclair — Courtesy: Sterling Properties and Greenwood Development LLC

    By Joshua Burd

    Developers have received approvals to develop 46 upscale rental homes as part of a new boutique multifamily project in downtown Montclair, the joint venture said Thursday.

    Initial site work for the project, by Sterling Properties and Greenwood Development LLC, is expected to begin this summer at 147 Bloomfield Ave. Known as The Vestry, it will rise at the former site of the Mount Carmel Holy Church just steps from NJ Transit’s Bay Street station.

    Plans call for an L-shaped elevator building that will seek silver status on the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED scale for sustainable and environmentally friendly design, according to a news release. Designed by Montclair-based Sionas Architects, The Vestry will boast a red brick and glass exterior.

    “We’re excited to begin construction on The Vestry, a stylish new rental building that will bring designer industrial inspired apartments and desired amenities to the eastern gateway to Bloomfield Avenue,” said Nick Hollenbeck, Sterling’s director of sales and marketing. “This dynamic, transit-friendly residential address combines a chic living environment with an ideal walkable lifestyle and easy access to great public transportation, charming Church Street and the redeveloping Lackawanna Plaza retail center located two blocks away.”

    Both developers have strong roots and an established presence in Montclair. Sterling, which is based in Livingston, previously introduced the Bellclair apartments to the township, while Montclair-based Greenwood Development has been responsible for the conversion of the historic Wellmont Theater into a concert venue and many other residential and commercial initiatives in the municipality.

    With their latest project, they hope to tap into the continued demand from renters who are attracted to downtown Montclair’s access and its wealth of shops, dining, cultural and entertainment venues.

    “The Vestry has been designed with the surrounding community in mind,” said David Genova, principal of Greenwood Development. “Its sleek and modern exterior mixes old and new architecture to blend seamlessly with the area’s century-old homes and Bloomfield Avenue’s distinctive residential and retail streetscape.

    “It will also be constructed using sustainable building techniques and materials to ensure it’s developed in an environmentally responsible fashion.”

    The property will have a mix of studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms, the news release said. Residents will have access to high-end amenities including a bike share program, Zipcar, covered parking and an indoor and outdoor rooftop lounge.

    The Vestry also will have about 1,600 square feet of ground floor retail space.


  8. #8
    Forum Veteran West Hudson's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    Jersey City/Harrison, NJ

    Thumbs up Massive Wellmont Project Breaks Ground

    The project includes several buildings, including one each at six and seven stories, and a mix of everything (residential, office, retail, and parking). It's also being developed by a trifecta of notable developers (Ironstate Development, which built a lot of Hoboken, Downtown JC, and Harrison; Brookfield, which owns alot of Manhattan Properties and recently purchased Forest City; and Pinnacle, which has built most of Montclair's largest buildings).

    Developers kick off $135 million theater district project in Montclair

    DECEMBER 11, 2018

    A rendering of a new two-building, mixed-use project in Montclair that will be anchored by the historic Wellmont Theater — All images courtesy: Ironstate Development Co./ Marchetto Higgins Stieve/Minno & Wasko Architects and Planners

    By Joshua Burd
    Ironstate Development Co., Brookfield and The Pinnacle Cos. have broken ground on a long-awaited, $135 million project in downtown Montclair that will deliver 200 apartments and a mix of artist and commercial space alongside the historic Wellmont Theater.

    The joint venture on Monday broke ground on the two-building project on Bloomfield Avenue, joining Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson and other public officials. With completion slated for 2020, the redevelopment calls for buildings of six and seven stories that will straddle Seymour Street, along with structured parking and a 12,000-square-foot public plaza.

    “Our company has always been focused on finding the special attributes of a particular community or city and bringing those out through our development,” said David Barry, CEO of Hoboken-based Ironstate. “And I think in Montclair, its historic character is really important.”
    Barry, a native of nearby South Orange, said the town’s heritage is reflected in its diversity, culture and the architecture of structures such as the Wellmont Theater. He added that the town’s connectivity and walkability remain a major draw.

    “We also believe very strongly in community building through thoughtfully programmed public spaces and curated retail that enhances area residents’ overall experience on a daily basis and creates energy and life on the street,” he said. “We’re excited to be a part of creating a destination that is authentic to Montclair and complements its unique character and appeal.”

    SLIDESHOW: Redevelopment at the Wellmont

    Marchetto Higgins Stieve and Minno & Wasko Architects and Planners designed the project, with interiors by Kara Mann Design.

    The individual components of the 2.5-acre redevelopment include:

    • A six-story building northwest of South Willow Street, featuring 200 apartments, 28,000 square feet of street-level retail space, 224 parking spaces and 10,000 square feet of space available for rental by arts users;
    • A seven-story building just southwest of the Wellmont Theater, which will include 40,000 square feet of office space and 210 parking spaces;
    • A five-story municipal parking garage that will house 315 spaces at the intersection of Glenridge Avenue and North Willow Street;
    • A new 12,000-square-foot public plaza at a former portion of Seymour Street that will anchor much of the retail space;
    • Extensive landscaping, outdoor seating, and multiple art installations.

    The plaza is expected to host open-air performances and other events, while the theater’s box office will open onto the plaza to create foot traffic throughout the year, Ironstate said. And with the hope of completing the block around the Wellmont, the developers aim to support Montclair’s goal of drawing new visitors to its downtown while providing a vibrant gathering space for existing residents.

    “This development surpasses my dream of a first-class arts district for our township,” Jackson said. “I’m thrilled that Brookfield and Ironstate are underway and moving at a great pace. Today’s groundbreaking is a milestone. I can’t wait to cut the ribbon.”

    From Left: Township Councilwoman Robin Schlager; Pinnacle Cos. CEO and President Brian Stolar; Montclair Deputy Mayor Sean Spiller; Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson; Ironstate Development Co. CEO and President David Barry; Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr.; Township Councilman Robert Russo; and Essex County Freeholder President Brendan Gill — Photo by Jeffrey Vock/Courtesy: Ironstate

    Ironstate said the new buildings will respect the historic architecture and brickwork at adjacent buildings like the Wellmont Theater and Kahn Building. To that end, both buildings will feature predominantly brick facades while offering modern amenities and high-end commercial spaces.

    In a news release, the developers also said the office floors and a rooftop space in the residential building will offer views of the landscape and Manhattan skyline.
    The project also aims to capture the demand for mixed-use spaces anchored by the arts. The storied Wellmont Theater, which opened in 1922, has hosted acts such as Charlie Chaplin and later become a movie theater that is well-known to area residents.

    The venue in recent years has undergone renovations to modernize its infrastructure and reopened in 2008 as a live concert facility, which hosts more than 100 events annually.


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