Roseland, NJ: Small town appeal with reasonable taxes

When they began house hunting in early 2020, immigrants from Belarus, Tatiana Butsko and Yuri Critchla, decided to focus on western Essex County, an area in northern New Jersey known for its relatively affordable homes and well-being. Schools are known for.

“We focused on Livingston, Caldwell and Fairfield,” said Mr. Critchla, 41, a software engineer for a financial services company in Jersey City, NJ. “We didn’t even know about Roseland.”

But their real estate agent convinced the couple, who were renting a two-family home in Dumont, NJ, in Bergen County, to expand their search to the neighboring borough. “And so we went there, and the only house we saw, we decided to buy immediately,” Mr. Critchla said.

She and Ms. Butsco, 35, a title specialist for a logistics company in Secaucus, NJ, and their two daughters moved into a split-level home with three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms on a quarter of an acre in June 2020 , a payment of $595,000.

Roseland, he said, checked all the boxes. “It has good schools, a nice commute to work, and I feel safe too,” Ms. Batsko said, recalling one night when police stopped her from her house to tell her that her garage The door was open.

“You really get the feel of a small town,” James R. Spango, part-time mayor of Roseland since 2019 and head of the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, said. “That’s what drew me to Roseland,” said Mr. Spango, who moved there from Livingston in 2016 with his wife, Don Spango, and their two daughters.

Roseland is considered one of the county’s most desirable areas, with its highly regarded school system, diverse housing stock, quaint town, and ample public space. In 2019, it was ranked 14th on New Jersey Monthly’s list of the best places to live in the state.

A major selling point for home buyers is property tax, which is lower than in the surrounding areas, in large part due to corporate offices, many of which are located on the sprawling Baker Farms on the southern edge. Town. These include the headquarters of automated data processing and several law firms. But many of the buildings are now vacant, and a major corporate tenant, Prudential Financial, is selling two of its buildings and consolidated operations in Newark. (A spokesperson attributed the changes to the workplace since the pandemic.)

However, Mr. Spango doesn’t expect it to increase taxes. “The office parks that are closing are being replaced with residential,” he said, some of it affordable housing.

For Martin and Judith Folkman, who moved from Montclair, NJ to Roseland in 2014, and traded a Craftsman-style home on three-quarters of an acre for a twice-largely expanded ranch on a lumber lot, The tax savings have been significant. “We are paying about $8,000 less a year,” said Mr. Folkman, 65, who runs an international awards program for indie musicians with 63-year-old Folkman.

The couple say they enjoy living in a quiet environment with low traffic, while living in Montclair about five miles from their favorite shops and restaurants. “We are also close to all the parks and reservations in Morris County,” Ms Folkman said.

And making friends just got easier. “We have met people walking the dog,” said Mr. Folkman. “And before you know it, they’re stopping by for a cocktail.”

Roseland, with approximately 6,300 residents within its 3.6 square miles, borders East Hanover in West Caldwell and Essex Fells to the north, West Orange to the east, Livingston to the south, and Morris County to the west. Interstate 280 cuts through the borough, providing easy access to Manhattan, as well as Newark and other New Jersey cities.

There are four main thoroughfares within the city: Passaic and Livingston Avenues, which run from southwest to northeast; Harrison Avenue, crossing the north end; and Eagle Rock Avenue, east to west, is where a small town with a variety of shops can be found, along with the Roseland Municipal Building.

A popular downtown haunt is Fairchild’s Market, which sells fine wines, burgers, and other prepared foods. But many residents do the majority of their food and shopping in areas around large and lively commercial districts.

Roseland has a large and diverse housing stock, with many options in tree-lined neighborhoods, including townhouses, Grand Colonials, midcentury Cape Cod, ranches, and split-level. Larger, older (and more expensive) houses can be found in the wooded Holmehill section, at the eastern end of the borough.

“Roseland offers a good mix – you have something for everyone,” said Lauren Orsini, an agent at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Verona, NJ.

Roseland has a range of home styles and price points, as “every part of the city was built a little differently,” said Ms. Orsini. Recently, however, as in other sectors, inventories have been low and prices have risen.

Last year, Ms. Orsini said, 54 individual homes sold for an average price of $570,381. Compared to 44 homes closing so far this year, the median sale price is $701,898. In 2020, 34 townhouses sold for an average price of $534,106; He said townhouses sold for an average of $556,272 this year.

In mid-October, there were just 10 properties for sale in Roseland on the Garden State Multiple Listing Service, from a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom townhouse, listed for $529,000, to a five-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom Colonial in the Holmehill section, for $1.149 million.

“You’re getting better bang for your buck here, as well as more diverse options,” said Maya Norman, an agent with Coldwell Banker in Livingston, who helped Ms. Butsco and Mr. Critchla find their home last year. did.”

There are also some rental options. Some townhouse owners rent out their own units, and apartments are available in luxury complexes such as the Avalon Roseland and Everly Roseland at the northwest end of the city. A bedroom at Everly starts at around $2,300 per month.

The residents have several parks and playgrounds. These include two large locations operated by Essex County that are partly in the borough: the 1,360-acre West Essex Park, which runs along the Passaic River and includes fishing and boat landings as well as an environmental center; and Baker Park, a 147-acre tract of trail with hiking trails.

The town hosts various events throughout the year, including Roseland Day in October, which includes a 5K race, performances by local bands, and an evening bonfire; an easter egg hunt; Thomas J. on Harrison Avenue. summer concerts at O’Berne Field; and an annual Christmas tree and menorah lighting festival. Some of these activities had to be modified during the pandemic, the mayor said.

Lester C. Noecker School on Passaic Avenue has approximately 470 students enrolled in preschool through sixth grade. It is one of the state’s top-ranked public schools for reading and math proficiency.

Middle and high school students are served by the West Essex Regional School District, as are students from nearby North Caldwell, Essex Fells and Fairfield.

West Essex High School, which has a graduation rate of 97 percent, offers a number of advanced placement classes to its approximately 1,100 students. Average SAT scores for the 2019-2020 school year were 552 in reading and writing and 558 in math, compared to 536 and 536. Statewide.

The borough is approximately 24 miles from Midtown Manhattan, a drive that can take an hour or two depending on traffic.

Many residents, like Mr Critchla, continue to work remotely. People who commute to offices in New York have a few options, although most involve some driving. These include catching a PATH train at Harrison Station, about a 20-minute drive off Interstate 280; The trip to Lower Manhattan takes about 20 minutes and costs $2.75 one-way, or $110 for a monthly pass.

Travelers can opt for a 40-minute train ride on New Jersey Transit from Montclair to Pennsylvania Station, or about a five-mile drive to Essex County Park N Ride on Northfield Avenue in West Orange to catch the Coach USA bus to the Port Authority. can do. bus terminal.

DeCamp Bus Lines provides limited service to the Port Authority from Eagle Rock Avenue.

Roseland was once part of Livingston, and was known as the Centerville section of the township. It was incorporated as an independent borough in 1908, after the community’s growing population pushed for more independence as well as a separate post office. The name Roslyn was originally suggested for the borough, but through misspelling or design it became Roseland.

Farming was the predominant industry in Roseland’s early days, and the most prominent agricultural business was Baker’s Farm, which operated from 1880 to 1964, covering about 1,200 acres at its peak, or about half the borough. Much of that land was later developed as a corporate office park.

Notable residents include Richard J. Cody, who served as Governor of New Jersey from 2004 to 2006.

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