Englewood, New Jersey: a cosmopolitan suburb close to the city

With three children under 5 and a fourth on the way, Elizabeth and Alan Mitrani were more than ready to move out of their one-bedroom Ne...


With three children under 5 and a fourth on the way, Elizabeth and Alan Mitrani were more than ready to move out of their one-bedroom New York apartment, where their living room doubled as a nursery.

“We were packed,” said Dr. Mitrani, a dentist, describing the Upper West Side rental her family left in 2014 for a new five-bedroom home in Englewood, NJ, which she and Mr. Mitrani bought it for $900,000. . Since then, the family has grown attached to this much smaller town across the George Washington Bridge, where Dr. Mitrani, 41, said his children ice skated, played soccer and “went down the hill to buy ice cream.

But their connection to Englewood grew exponentially in September, when their home flooded in Hurricane Ida and then caught fire. Police helped them evacuate when water filled their garage and encroached on the first floor. Before dawn the next day, the flood sparked an electrical fire, and the city firefighters came to the rescue, saving part of the structure and many valuable things, including the family cat.

“I thought, ‘We’ll be back tomorrow. It’s completely over the top,” said Dr Mitrani, explaining why they left their tabby cat behind during the fast-paced events of last fall. “I hope no one else ever has to go through this, but we saw how truly everyone was there for us when we needed them.”

She added: “We love Englewood so much, even a fire doesn’t scare us.” The family is now renting in another part of town while they rebuild their home.

With its bustling downtown filled with ethnic restaurants, art galleries and specialty shops, this nearly five-square-mile Bergen County town has a distinctly urban vibe, though its rolling terrain and numerous residential neighborhoods make it also make it feel like a small town. That combination – along with Englewood’s proximity to New York – is what attracts many buyers, said Marilyn Budnick, resident and agent at Sotheby’s International Realty, who describes her home of the past 28 years as “very cosmopolitan”.

“Living here still feels like I’m in New York, even though it’s New Jersey,” she said. “There’s just a lot going on.”

Steadfast New Yorkers Michael and Alicynne Sher were reluctant to leave town until Covid-19 hit. Joining what Mr Sher called “the great pandemic relocation”, they left their 23-year-old Upper East Side apartment in late 2020 and moved to Englewood, where their two children had been attending private school for several years.

“We loved being in town, but it started to feel a bit cramped,” said Mr. Sher, 55, owner of a crisis management technology company. “New York was closed and restaurants weren’t opening. We weren’t sure about the bus service for the kids at school. It just didn’t make sense.

He has no regrets moving into the four-story townhouse they bought for $802,000 and remodeled extensively. “Everyone now has their own space to do whatever they want,” he said. “The children are within walking distance of their school. We are so close to town, but I wake up to birdsong and can see deer and foxes in the garden.

A few miles northwest of New York City, Englewood features as eclectic a mix of topography, housing, commercial development, and demographics as one could ask for in a single municipality.

On the housing front, there are the multi-million dollar estates in the East Hill section, many of which have been owned by celebrities from Gloria Swanson to Alicia Keys. Closer to the center of town, there are modest bungalows and two-family homes, as well as a number of condominium and rental options, including historic high-rise buildings like Tudor Hall, home developments town squares along the palisades and new mid-rise buildings. apartment developments near route 4.

Englewood’s population is equally diverse. According to 2020 census32.5% of the city’s 29,308 residents identified as white, 28.8% as Hispanic, 26.6% as black, and 9.8% as Asian.

The town also has a large elderly population, which Janet Sharma, coordinator of Age-Friendly Englewood, estimated at around 16% of the population. The group was formed in 2016 to help them age in place, said Ms Sharma, 77: “Englewood is a bigger town with a diverse population. It is very walkable and very safe. Many people want to stay in Englewood, but like everywhere else, it’s expensive.

This big city feeling was a draw for Aviva and Shmuel Dabi. Both 74 and retired, they were ready to move to a more active community than Highland Park, NJ, where they had lived for 40 years. In January, the couple bought a three-bedroom townhouse in Oak Trail for $687,500; they are renovating and plan to move in by June.

“We were looking for a place close to town that had a sense of life,” said Ms. Dabi, a former architect. “You see people sitting outside in restaurants, going for ice cream or a Starbucks. The more we go, the better we feel about our decision.

As of late February, there were 33 homes and 14 condominiums or co-ops on the market in Englewood, according to the New Jersey Multiple Listing Service. The median asking price for a single-family home was $1.695 million; the median asking price for a condo was $364,450. At the high end of the market was a nine-bedroom 19th-century stone house on 1.7 acres, listed for $5.995 million; at the bottom of the scale was a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condominium, listed for $220,000.

The median price of the 155 homes sold in 2021 was $551,000, compared to $500,000 in 2020, when 159 homes sold. As for condominiums and cooperatives, 147 units sold in 2021, at a median price of $365,000; in 2020, 88 condos or co-ops sold for a median price of $345,000.

Stretching west to east through the heart of Englewood, Palisade Avenue is dotted with places to eat: South American restaurants, French and Latin bakeries, ice cream shops and the old-fashioned Baumgart soda fountain storefront , which is now an Asian fusion restaurant. Nearby is the Bergen Performing Arts Center, a regional hub for live performances.

Traveling north to south along Dean Street, it’s hard to resist the aroma emanating from the window of Balthazar Bakery, which has been producing bread and pastries for Balthazar’s New York empire in a former factory for 2000. A few blocks south is Jerry’s Gourmet and More, an extensive store of imported cheeses, meats, wines and prepared meals.

A mile away, one can seek refuge at Flat Rock Brook, a 150-acre nature preserve with wooded trails, cascading waterfalls, and an education center. The 28-acre Mackay Park is also popular, with its public skating rink and hockey rink.

Englewood’s public school system includes the Donald A. Quarles Early Years Center for kindergarten and kindergarten students; Dr. John Grieco Elementary School for first and second graders; Dr. Leroy McCloud Elementary School for third, fourth and fifth grades; Janis E. Dismus Middle School grades six through eight; and Dwight Morrow High School for grades nine through twelfth (it also serves students from nearby Englewood Cliffs).

The high school, which enrolls more than 1,000 students, includes Englewood Academies, a selective magnet school specializing in medical, legal, business, engineering, and technology studies, at which students from across Bergen County can to apply. Average SAT scores at Dwight Morrow in 2019-20 were 537 in reading and writing and 530 in math, compared to state averages of 536 in each.

Englewood is also home to some of the area’s most prestigious private schools, including the Dwight-Englewood School, a coeducational day school serving 900 students from pre-K through 12 on a 45-acre campus; the Elisabeth Morrow School, a coeducational school founded in 1930 for students in kindergarten through eighth grade; and Moriah School, a Modern Orthodox Jewish day school, enrolling students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Englewood is served by Interstate 95 and Route 4, and is approximately four miles from the western terminus of the George Washington Bridge. Although there have been discussions of extending the Hudson-Bergen light rail line to Englewood, the city currently has no rail system.

The New Jersey Transit Bus No. 166 travels from Palisade Avenue to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan in approximately 40 to 60 minutes; the fare is $6 one way or $167 for a monthly pass. Other buses go to the George Washington Bridge terminal in Upper Manhattan.

The residents of Englewood were among the first in the country to make their own long distance phone calls without the help of a carrier. The first one call made by a transcontinental customer was made in November 1951, when Mr. Leslie Denning, the Mayor of Englewood, picked up the phone and dialed 10 digits, waiting 18 seconds until Frank Osborne, the Mayor of Alameda, California, picked up the phone.

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