Belleville, NJ: An Affordable Alternative To Renting In The City

Belleville, the adjacent working-class suburb of Newark where Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – the first Jersey Boys – debuted, has ...

Belleville, the adjacent working-class suburb of Newark where Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – the first Jersey Boys – debuted, has long been a destination for first-time homebuyers. The pandemic has only raised the profile of the township, especially among New Yorkers.

Last summer, more than 100 potential buyers attended an open house at an indescribable three-bedroom colonial house with aluminum walls. After several offers, the house sold for $ 331,000, more than 10% more than asked. Since then, the market has remained robust, fueled by affordability and switchability.

Brian Maysonet, 38, a sales manager in the beverage industry, and Iliana Alvarado, 36, a law firm manager, arrived several months before the lockdown. They paid $ 310,000 for a three bedroom, one bath Cape Cod and invested $ 60,000 in renovations. For the couple and their two daughters, who previously lived in a railroad-style rental in Ridgewood, Queens, the drive to Belleville was a process of elimination.

“We didn’t look in the five boroughs because it’s way too expensive, and we knew the taxes in Westchester were pretty high,” Maysonet said. “And because we work in Manhattan, we eliminated Long Island because of the commute.”

It left New Jersey. “We basically did our research on Zillow, started in Jersey City and headed west” to Essex County – Bloomfield and Montclair in particular, Maysonet said. But house prices in those areas were out of budget, putting the self-proclaimed “Cherry Blossom Capital of America” at stake.

In Belleville, Ms Alvarado said, the couple found a sense of familiarity due to the similarities to Queens: shops, schools and other necessities nearby; a large Hispanic and Latino community (48 percent of the population); and the celebration of diversity. The Juneteenth neighborhood party on their little street was particularly welcome this year.

Louis Wnek, a 25-year-old resident and sales associate at Weichert Realtors in Clifton, said nearly half of his Belleville buyers are from New York. “Rather than paying rent in the city,” he said, “they find houses with a little bit of property and taxes that aren’t too crazy.”

Mr Wnek added that the perception of Belleville, with 38,000 residents in just over three square miles, is changing to that of a place “with a lot to offer besides cheap homes.” He referred to a $ 6 million project, currently underway, for the resurfacing of the athletic fields at the imposing Belleville municipal stadium and the planned rehabilitation of the main commercial corridor. The township’s third supermarket, a Lidl, opened this month in a refurbished mall, and its first Starbucks is under construction near Clara Maass Medical Center.

Attracted to Belleville in 2019 by a cousin who lives there, Christine David-Fortune, 44, a counselor at a Brooklyn charter school, and Stephen Fortune, 49, a customer service manager, bought a three-bedroom brick duplex for $ 370,000. Originally from Granada, the couple and their teenage daughter arrived from a rental at a two-family home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and now grow okra, peppers, tomatoes and eggplants in their sunny backyard.

“We looked at 15 homes in Belleville and when we first saw the one we bought, the man next door came out and said, ‘I guess you’ll be our new neighbors,’ Ms. David-Fortune. ” I loved it. You don’t feel like a stranger here.

Once a manufacturing hub, Belleville sits between the Passaic River and the Garden State Parkway, 12 miles from Manhattan. Newark is to the south, Nutley to the north, Bloomfield to the west, and North Arlington and Kearny to the east, across the river.

The township becomes more and more suburban as you move away from Newark. Its southern enclave, the historically Italian-American region of Silver Lake, has townhouses, a streetcar station, and a front vibe reminiscent of certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn. In the northwest corner, the post-war levels of Rutan Estates are reminiscent of Long Island. Most of Belleville’s housing stock, however, is older, with many early 20th-century colonials including multi-family homes, as well as Cape Cods and condominiums – and barely a McMansion in sight.

Rather than a traditional downtown, shops and small businesses line Washington Avenue – a four-lane thoroughfare – for two miles. Landmarks include a public library staffed by Andrew Carnegie, the stately funeral home where “The Sopranos” filmed their farewells, and a giant motorcycle dealership.

Gabrielle Bennett-Meany, a resident for 30 years, member of the school board and coordinator of local green initiatives like the community garden, dog park and planters around the corner, described Belleville as a “diamond in the rough.”

“Urban with a suburban touch? Suburban with an urban feel? For me it’s just picturesque, ”she said. “I like our small lot sizes, with people next to you but not above you, and you know everyone on the street.”

New neighbors, probably younger professionals, are on the way. Like Harrison and Kearny, two other towns on the lower Passaic River with industrial heirlooms, Belleville has landed on the developer radar. Several high-end mixed-use apartment buildings comprising 1,200 rental units have been approved or are under construction. The first to be completed, a 232-unit transit-focused complex across the street from the Silver Lake Light Rail Station – and which bears the neighborhood name – will see its first tenants in September.

Michael Melham, the mayor, said the township has pivoted during the pandemic and allows developers to integrate co-working space in place of part of their retail needs.

Mr. Melham considers the location to be one of Belleville’s biggest draws. “We border the largest city in New Jersey,” he said. “And from our hills, we can see New York. “

Most single-family homes on the market are between $ 350,000 and $ 450,000, prices that appeal to honeymooners and young families beyond apartment living across the Hudson, said Carmen Jimenez, broker-sales associate at Re / Max Professionnels, in Belleville.

In mid-August, the New Jersey Multiple Listing ServiceS website showed 32 single family homes on the market, priced from $ 220,000 to $ 599,000.

From August 1, 2020 to July 31, 2021, the median selling price of a single-family home was $ 365,000, based on 225 sales, according to the Multiple Listing Service. In the same period a year earlier, before the full effect of the pandemic on the suburban real estate market took hold, 170 single-family homes sold for a median of $ 325,000.

Belleville’s average property tax bill in 2020 was $ 10,347.

Although densely populated, Belleville has patches of greenery. There is a county golf course with a popular youth instruction program, as well as a portion of a private golf course. The north edge of Essex County’s Branch Brook Park, known for its cherry blossoms in spring, overflows with Newark, and the adjacent Belleville Park and many residential streets have their own abundance of showy cherry trees. Flowers are a point of civic pride and create a backdrop for pop-up yoga events.

The Whiskey Priest Gastro Pub is the newest addition to Belleville’s Italian and Latin influenced food scene. Near the geographic center of the township is Michael’s Roscommon House, a sports bar offering Irish and Italian dishes. And at the southern tip of Belleville is the old-school, wood-paneled, cash-only Belmont Tavern, which has served its Savoyard vinegar chicken for generations.

In a public school district composed of 69% Hispanic, 13% White, 9% Asian, and 8% Black, students attend one of seven numbered elementary schools through sixth grade and the school Intermediate Belleville for the seventh and eighth grades.

Belleville High School accommodates 1,400 people and offers academies in engineering, medical sciences and criminal justice. The 2019-2020 average SAT scores were 505 in reading and writing and 502 in math, compared to 536 in each subject statewide.

Saint Peter’s School, part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, welcomes students from Kindergarten to Grade 8.

From the Silver Lake Newark Light Rail Station, the trip to Newark Penn Station takes 18 minutes and costs $ 1.60 one way or $ 59 per month. In Newark, passengers can take a PATH train to the World Trade Center (an 18-minute ride) or a New Jersey Transit train to Penn Station in Manhattan (a 20- to 25-minute ride). The PATH fare is $ 2.75 one way; New Jersey Transit fare is $ 5.25 one way or $ 152 per month.

Another option is a New Jersey Transit train from Bloomfield. The 30- to 40-minute trip costs $ 6.75 one way or $ 184 per month.

DeCamp Bus Lines offers limited service to Belleville. The trip to the port authority takes 35 minutes and costs $ 7.40 one way or $ 68.50 for 10 trips.

In 1870, a retired naval captain brought 68 Chinese men and boys from San Francisco to work in his steam laundry along the Passaic River. Many had helped build the Central Pacific Railroad at a time when Chinese immigrants faced discrimination on the West Coast. Belleville, originally named Second River, provided a shrine, and its Chinatown helped seed Manhattan’s. Members of First Chinese community on the east coast are commemorated by a monument topped by a pagoda in the cemetery of the Dutch Reformed Church in Belleville.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Belleville, NJ: An Affordable Alternative To Renting In The City
Belleville, NJ: An Affordable Alternative To Renting In The City
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