Running out of land?
From the Record:
Squeezing the suburbs
Squeezing the suburbs
North Jersey is on the cusp of a condominium and town-house building boom that some feel will slowly change the suburban character of the area into an even denser collection of bedroom communities.
Developments totaling at least 14,000 units of high-density housing have either been proposed, are before local boards, or have recently been approved in Bergen, Passaic, Morris and Hudson counties, according to a review of building data by The Record.
Construction is slated across the region, from massive developments such as the 2,580-unit EnCap Meadowlands Golf Village in Rutherford and Lyndhurst to smaller projects like a 68-unit apartment complex in Butler.
"There is a lot of competition to live here," said John Knifton, a senior vice president of Somerset Development, which is building the 737-unit Wesmont Station in Wood-Ridge. "There are high barriers. ... It's not made for just anyone," he said of homeownership in the region.
But will there be enough demand by the time these developments are built?
"It's a legitimate fear," said James Hughes, dean of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. "These were conceived during boom years, but by the time they get around to building, it's a whole new economic situation."
Residential development is on course to outpace Bergen County's population growth in the next 10 years, according to a recent study by the county's Office of Planning and Economic Development.
At its current pace, housing in Bergen will climb toward 400,000 units from today's 350,000 by 2015 while the population slowly increases to the low 900,000s from 891,000. It would create the largest housing surplus the county has seen and its first since the late 1980s and early 1990s when the real estate market collapsed, said Farouk Ahmad, director of the county planning office.
Home construction in Bergen County this decade has already surpassed all residential building in the 1990s, 12,805 units through 2005 to 11,304 for all of the '90s. Passaic County may soon eclipse last decade's total: 4,016 so far to 4,820 in the 1990s.
Hudson County has already surpassed its 1990s total and Morris County is keeping pace with its 1990s building boom.
For instance, Edgewater has been the site for more new high-density housing since the early 1990s than any other community in North Jersey. From 1999 to 2005, there have been 1,091 multifamily units developed in the 0.85-square-mile borough, according to building permit data.