Rye Brook, NY: a "low-key" village with good schools

Lee Freund likes to say his family’s house came with a dog. That’s because, two days after he and his wife, Jackie Freund, moved in wit...


Lee Freund likes to say his family’s house came with a dog. That’s because, two days after he and his wife, Jackie Freund, moved in with their children, Jordan, now 16, and Brooke, 13, Mrs Freund surprised them with an Australian Labradoodle puppy. They called him Teddy.

Ms. Freund, 50, is the owner of Jackie David Skin Care in Manhattan. Mr Freund, 51, works in sales (currently home-based, pre-pandemic in Manhattan) for a software company. Teddy embodied the family’s new suburban lifestyle. In August 2016, they traded in their 1,500 square foot condominium in Long Island City, Queens, where they had lived for 12 years, for a house in Rye Brook, a leafy village in southeast Westchester County. “We didn’t want to have a dog in town,” Ms. Freund said.

What they wanted was to provide their children with an environment similar to the one they had growing up in the suburbs. And they were determined to leave New York City before Jordan started college.

They limited their search to four easily accessible Westchester communities: Bronxville, Scarsdale, Ardsley, and Rye Brook. They were drawn to Rye Brook by the caliber of its schools, and their decision was confirmed by the home they found: an attached 2,795-square-foot townhouse with three bedrooms. They paid $ 1,575,231 for the house, which was built in 2016 in the Rye Brook Enclave, a brand new Toll Brothers development at the time. “We love ‘new stuff’,” said Freund, calling their decision “the best decision we’ve ever made”.

Paul S. Rosenberg, Mayor of Rye Brook, said a growing segment of the village’s approximately 9,500 residents are families drawn to the schools and location. “With the pandemic, we have seen young families move in faster than ever before,” he said.

Another attraction is the greenery. Mr Rosenberg said about 18 percent of the village is open space, encompassing golf courses and woods as well as eight well-maintained parks. He touted Rye Brook’s 26-year-old status as an Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA community, noting its strict regulations on felling trees. “Our streets are lined with trees,” he said.

Rye Brook, a 3.5 square mile strip of a village about 30 miles northeast of Manhattan, was established in 1982, making it the youngest incorporated village in Westchester County.

One of three villages in the town of Rye – with Port Chester to the south-east and part of Mamaroneck (which, illustrating the often complicated boundaries of Westchester, is separated from Port Chester and Rye Brook by the town of Rye) – it is wedged between the cities of Harrison, NY, and Greenwich, Connecticut. The northern tip includes part of Westchester County Airport; the southern tip touches the town of Rye.

On the retail side, Rye Brook has two large office complexes and two shopping malls: the Rye Ridge Mall, with dozens of shops, restaurants, and fitness options, and the smaller Washington Park Plaza. The rest of the village is primarily residential, dotted with homeowners associations and neighborhoods like Pine Ridge and Red Roof, bordering Pine Ridge Park, and Country Ridge, bounded by the Country Ridge Drive Loop. The newest homeowners association is Kingfield, with 110 luxury townhouses. The largest is the 261-house BelleFair, built in the 1990s near the airport.

Information from the City of Rye Assessment Office showed that Rye Brook has 1,939 single-family homes, many of which are ranches and split-level homes, in addition to 830 single-family homes and townhouses in homeowners associations. . There are 453 two-family and three-family homes and seven rental buildings of four or more units, including a 32-unit seniors complex. There are also two condominium complexes of 248 units, as well as two small designated affordable condominium complexes.

Melissa Kaminsky, an agent for Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty, said house prices in Rye Brook start in the $ 400,000 range and can exceed $ 2 million, typically for new construction. “The sweet spot is between $ 700,000 and $ 1 million,” she said, “with sales increasing in the range of $ 1 million to $ 1.5 million.”

Since the start of the pandemic, stocks have remained low, she said, and as a result, “people price their homes higher and they get what they want.”

“Covid has changed everything,” said Anna Leder, sales assistant at Houlihan Lawrence. “But as crazy as it was, I feel like it’s slowing down. Last year, people were buying houses without seeing them. Now some houses are torn down, but others remain seated. We still have bidding wars, but it doesn’t seem so frantic. “

Data provided by the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service indicated that as of August 24, there were 32 single-family homes on the market, starting from an attached 1,250-square-foot, two-bedroom townhouse, built in 1979. in the Arbors Association, listed for $ 524,999, to a brand new 4,044 square foot, three bedroom townhouse in the Kingfield development, listed for $ 1.9 million. There was a multi-family home for sale, a 1,998 square foot two-unit building listed for $ 599,999. No condominiums were on the market.

There were six rental properties available, from a 1,200-square-foot three-bedroom apartment for $ 2,800 per month to a 6,241-square-foot 5-bedroom home for $ 9,500.

The median selling price of a single-family home during the 12-month period ending August 24 was $ 967,500, compared to $ 880,000 in the previous 12 months. The median for a multi-family home was $ 690,000, down from $ 420,000 in the previous 12 months; for condominiums, the median selling price was $ 315,000, compared to $ 325,000. The median monthly rent was $ 3,600, compared to $ 4,475.

Ms. Freund described Rye Brook as “friendly” and “low key”. “You don’t have the sparkle that you have in some of the neighboring towns,” she said.

Residents mingle with village sponsored events like the Rye Brook Birthday Party, Ice Cream Fridays and the Winter Festival. Pets join in the fun for Howl-O-Ween in the park. “You get to know people,” said Ms. Leder, a 16-year-old resident.

What is not in Rye Brook is nearby. In the town of Rye, there is a farmers market, and villagers have access to Rye Town Park and Oakland Beach on Long Island Sound. Greenwich, just across the Connecticut border, is a shopper’s paradise. Port Chester is full of ethnic restaurants and the 95-year-old Capitol Theater. The Neuberger Museum of Art (now reopened) and the Performing Arts Center (still virtual) are minutes away, on the Purchase College campus.

Most of Rye Brook is served by two school districts: the Blind Brook-Rye Union Free School District, which covers 70% of the north of the village, and the Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District, which covers most of the rest. A small area that includes a 10-unit townhouse development towards the southwest edge of the village is zoned for the Harrison Central School District.

The 1,344 school children in the Blind Brook-Rye District attend Bruno M. Ponterio Ridge Street School from Kindergarten to Grade 5. The school is undergoing a $ 44.7 million expansion, which is expected to be completed next spring. From there, head to Blind Brook Middle School, then Blind Brook High School, which share a building. This year, American News and World Report ranked Blind Brook High 25th in New York.

Of the 4,538 students in the Port Chester-Rye district, Mitchell A. Combs, deputy superintendent of schools, said 6% lived in Rye Brook. Kindergarten to Grade 5 students attend one of the neighborhood’s four schools; most of Rye Brook’s children attend Park Avenue School. Students converge at Port Chester Middle School for grades six to eight, then move on to Port Chester High; both schools are in Rye Brook. The neighborhood is ethnically and socio-economically diverse: In the 2020-21 school year, 82 percent of the high school population was Hispanic; in the class, 88% went on to graduate school, and more than half were the first in their family to do so.

Of the 2019 state assessments, 69 percent of Blind Brook-Rye DistrictFourth graders were proficient in English and 80% were proficient in mathematics, and in the Port Chester-Rye District, 32 percent of fourth graders were proficient in English and 35 percent were proficient in mathematics; the statewide equivalents were 48 percent and 50 percent. The average SAT scores for the 2019 class at Blind Brook High School were 680 in math and 652 in evidence-based reading and writing, and for Port Chester High, 512 in math and 509 in evidence-based reading and writing. evidence; the statewide averages were 533 and 531.

Commuters to Manhattan can take the New Haven Metro-North Railroad line at Port Chester or Rye stations (both are a few miles away; parking is easier in Port Chester). Rush hour trains to and from Grand Central Terminal take 42 to 60 minutes. Rates are $ 27.50 round trip peak, $ 20.50 round trip off-peak and $ 300 per month; currently, all rates are considered off-peak.

Rye Brook is crossed by the Hutchinson River Parkway and a bit of Interstate 287, and is close to Interstate 95 and Merritt Parkway. The trip to town can be as quick as 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

On a quiet street in east Rye Brook, one house stands out: the William E. Ward House, a 17-room house built in the 1870s almost exclusively of reinforced concrete. Mr. Ward, a mechanical engineer, wanted to demonstrate the viability of the material for construction. And because his mother suffered from pyrophobia, he wanted to create a fireproof residence. The house’s castle-like appearance, particularly its four-story turret, has earned it the nickname Ward’s Castle (although skeptical neighbors have called it Ward’s Folly).

Four generations of wards lived in the house until it was purchased by Death Walker, the creator of the comic strip “Beetle Bailey” and the founder of the Museum of Cartoon Art. In 1977 Mr Walker moved his then three-year-old museum from Greenwich to the Ward House, where it remained until 1992.

The house, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, is the oldest existing reinforced concrete structure in the country. And today it is again a private residence.

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