Tuesday, June 27, 2006

New Urbanism?

From the Star Ledger:

'New urbanism' transforms Montclair

Just outside her office in the $1.7 million model home is an under-the-glass layout of the "new urbanism" style Montclair subdivi sion, where houses in various stages of construction are tucked shoulder-to-shoulder and a short "How do ya do" distance from the sidewalk.

Round pushpins are tacked into each lot in the subdivision's map. There's one yellow pin for the fully furnished model showcase. There are eight green ones. And there's the solitary red.
In the mature suburbs of Mont clair and environs, scores of new homes and condos -- from Christopher Court to Montclair Heights to The Siena and The Reserve at Glen Ridge -- are just now in the midst of drumming up their first sales.
Montclair Heights is rising on the site of the old Montclair Community Hospital, which had sat empty for six years and attracted a connoisseur of "abandoned and interesting places" who posted eerie online pictures of its abandoned nurses stations.

The Reserve is rising on the site of a 1950s-era building once used by Verizon for its famed Yellow Pages, and The Siena is replacing the old Hahne & Co. department store, whose 15-year stint as a va cant hull dead-center in the business district was a thorn in the side of politicians for years.

Christopher Court was cut through the site of the historic Marlboro Inn, a Tudor-style hostelry that once billed itself as "the European countryside, only closer," but fell to a wrecking ball after a 16-month struggle between a developer and preservationists who now bemoan the size of the estates rising there.

These developments can hardly be considered "New Urbanism". These are simply high density/high price developments that utilized existing structures. While I might be swayed into believing that Montclair Heights and the Reserve have something in common with New Urbanism, Christopher Court is anything but. I was very sad to see the Marlboro Inn torn down to make way for what is possibly the highest density McMansion development in Montclair.

Caveat Emptor!


Blogger Shailesh Gala said...

BusinessWeek article,

Is a Fed Surprise On Tap?

The unlikely-but-possible surprise: A double dose of rate-hiking medicine. In other words, the Fed might raise the federal funds rate by half a percentage point instead of the quarter percentage point that the market is widely expecting. If it doubled the dose, interest rates would probably leap across the credit spectrum, from yields on certificates of deposit to rates on 30-year mortgage loans. But, later, rates on such long-term debt as mortgages might actually fall if investors concluded that the half-point increase was probably the Fed's last hurrah.

In this logic, NAR should probably pitch for 50BP hike, as that may cause Mortgage rates to drop.

6/27/2006 05:25:00 AM  
Blogger Shailesh Gala said...

BW Article,

Land Swings Home Prices

The cost of land is an increasingly important factor in the prices of homes. Not just in a few markets with well-known shortages of open space like San Francisco. Even in Minneapolis, land accounted for almost 46% of the value of homes in 2004, up from just 12.5% in 1984.

This study has important implications for the future of home prices. In a nutshell, it means home prices are likely to be more volatile in the future. They'll rise more abruptly and fall more abruptly as well in reaction to changes in demand.

6/27/2006 05:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Anyone watching inventory the last two days notice any big drops..like 20%..in inventory in any specific towns?


6/27/2006 05:52:00 AM  
Blogger grim said...

What towns? Might just be normal end-of-month behavior. There is typically a spike in activity towards the end of the month.


6/27/2006 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger annamelbourne said...

"scores of new homes and condos...are just now in the midst of drumming up their first sales."

They hope. I live a few blocks from the ill-concieved Christopher Court in Montclair. These houses, priced at $1.7 million, are so close that you would not be able to avoid looking into your neighbors windows. It looks like Queens. Difficult for me to imagine these places appealing to anyone. For much less than $1.7 million, you can buy a much nicer house with much more land in Montclair.

6/27/2006 06:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what crap.. who in their right mind would pay for overpriced homes with no real "estate" around them...Geez

6/27/2006 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger Metroplexual said...

Grim I have never seen a "new urbanist" in NJ that was outside of a major city. Euclidian zoning rules. Although, Montclair is somewhat like a new urbanist town to begin with, but McMansions kill the traditional town feel.

6/27/2006 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger skep-tic said...

the only way to achieve a walkable urban feel is to have mixed use zoning, sidewalks, common areas like parks, etc. it's almost impossible to create this out of whole cloth. I agree with Grim. These "new urbanism" developments are the worst of both worlds: ugly townhouses jammed on top of each other, but you still have to get in your car to do anything

6/27/2006 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Richie said...

The fact that they mentioned "GE Profile" appliances in their model home is hilarious.

The GE Profile line is NOTHING compared to the GE Monogram line. The GE Profile line is your typical HotPoint appliance. Luxury properties should have GE Monograms which are comparable (in price and features) to Viking, Subzero, etc.


6/27/2006 09:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you buy in Montclair, you are mentally ill.

6/27/2006 10:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went past Siena in montclair the other day. One question, do these developers have rocks in their heads? Who in there right mind pays these crazy prices to be in a condo deep in suburbia. This is not manhattan, or Hoboken, or Jersey City. Why should I buy a 2 bedroom condo for 600k, I can buy a 3 or 4 bedroom house on some land for that price. It would seem to me you move to monclair because you can get a lawn and a house while still having some culture. So now I pay to live in a condo with no land surrounding it and less culture further from Manhattan how does this logically make sense to buyers.

6/27/2006 12:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, grim..I went back and checked now on my zip and they're all back on now...the mls service must have been updating the listings this morning at 6

6/27/2006 01:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The one silver lining about the Christopher Court debacle is that the township of Montclair has really woken up to the danger of greedy developers and is now in the process of retooling its building codes. There has been such public outcry over that development. For example, there was another Victorian house (called Huestis house) in town that was bought by a developer who planned to demolish it and put up two houses on the lot. There was such public outcry by the neighbors (petitions, etc.) that he backed off and is now planning to renovate it. So fortunately, it looks like the tide is turning.

I think the condo issue is a slightly different one. Some of them may appeal to older, empty nesters who don't want to leave town but also no longer want to have the responsibility of looking after a lot of land. So many houses in Montclair now go for $1m or more that it wouldn't surprise me to see some folks sell their house and put some of the proceeds into a local condo. The condos may also appeal to 2-career couples who don't have kids yet and can get far more for their money here than in the city. I know that one of these condo developments is very near the Walnut St. train station--an area that has been "gentrified" with artsy stores and restaurants. It will be interesting to see what all of these new developments end up selling for since the market appears to be softening. I agree that it is hard to imagine the buyer for a $1.7 M Christopher Court house that has no yard and a shared driveway!!!

6/27/2006 03:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a Shared Driveway,,, your kidding

6/27/2006 05:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh no I understand the desire for a condo in montclair or suburban essex county, what I fail to understand is how a 1400 sq ft. 2bdrm condo costs 600k, which is more than many homes in montclair in the bloomfield ave. area that is easily 175k over current market value especially given how it is crammed in with views of the beautiful cresent parking deck. I could buy a unit like that in Hoboken for a similar price. Given that a 3000 sq ft. house on a half acre in either upper montclair or the estate section(South Mountain area) is still right around 900k-$1m. The developers must do better than this!

6/27/2006 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger annamelbourne said...

Yes, shared driveways at Christopher Court. It will be fascinating to see who buys these closely packed monstrosities and what the actual selling price ends up being.

6/27/2006 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger grim said...

Interesting tidbit for those who care.

The developer behind the Christopher Court project is Stephen Plofker. While you might not know who Mr. Plofker is, you'll recognize his wife's name, Bobbi Brown.


6/27/2006 07:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish there was a way to link to a photo of the Christopher Court development--the houses are huge and truly shockingly close together. Plus the backyards look like they're maybe ten feet deep!!!And half of these houses back up to a very busy street. The houses are very long and narrow. Only thing I can think of is if someone is coming from a neigborhood of Brooklyn brownstones it might seem like a "step up" because your house is not actually attached to your neighbor's. That Star Ledger article suggested that one of them is about to be sold (is in attorney review). It will be very interesting to see what it sells for. If the developer gets anywhere near the asking price well, then I guess PT Barnum is still right!!

6/27/2006 09:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are people hating on Christopher Court because the homes are made well and thus, causes the older home owners to worry about their sales value? Or is it that they just don't like change? Whatever it is, it is unfair, and plain hateful. Not one person mentioned that the average cost of property taxes in Montclair on a million dollar house is 30-40k a year! Some people don't have a lot of kids and do not want or need a big lawn!
Why should a home owner like a new home owner of Christopher Court pay high taxes to send your kids to school when they don't have one child!


7/18/2006 12:58:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home