New Brunswick, N.J.: Large-Metropolis Facilities With a Small-City Really feel

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New Brunswick, N.J.: Big-City Amenities With a Small-Town Feel

When Rebecca Mark became director of the Institute for Women's Leadership at Rutgers University in January, she and partner Brenda Currin, both over 60, knew they wanted to live in the college house in New Brunswick, New Jersey. rather than the suburbs.

"We were looking for a place that was accessible by bike to campus and on foot to the train station," said Ms. Mark. She and Ms. Currin, an actress, decided to rent a two-bedroom apartment in Premiere Residences, a new 23-story rental building that also houses the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center.

While they were hoping to see lots of performances, the pandemic has closed theaters for the time being. Still, they enjoy other delights of city life, including downtown restaurants. "We like the diversity of the city and the fact that there are people from all over the world," said Ms. Mark.

With a population of approximately 56,000 in 5.2 square kilometers, this Middlesex County town on the banks of the Raritan River is best known as the home of Rutgers, New Jersey's state university that was founded more than 250 years ago. The school's footprint is everywhere from College Avenue campuses to Cook and Douglass campuses across town and in buildings scattered across New Brunswick. (Rutgers has two other locations, Livingston and Busch, in nearby Piscataway and outposts in Newark and Camden.)

Two other key facilities are in the heart of New Brunswick: Johnson & Johnson Headquarters and Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center.

"It's a medium-sized city that has some of the characteristics of a big city and some of the characteristics of a small town," said Christopher J. Paladino, president of the nonprofit New Brunswick Development Corporation, which has spearheaded a wave of redevelopment there over the past two decades.

Known as Devco, the company has worked in public-private partnerships with Rutgers, developers, nonprofits, and government agencies to oversee nearly $ 1.8 billion in investments since the 1990s. Recent projects include the Performing Arts Center; Gateway Transit Village, a residential and retail high-rise adjacent to the train station; and a major redevelopment of College Avenue for Rutgers that includes academic and residential buildings.

"New Brunswick is a wonderful example of urban renewal," said Penelope Lattimer, 73, who lived in two houses that were part of the downtown redevelopment. Ms. Lattimer, the retired assistant superintendent of New Brunswick public schools, moved to Hiram Square in the 1990s when it was a new townhouse community.

When she recently made the single-story decision, she moved to Premiere Residences, which currently offer studios for just $ 1,860 per month and up to two bedrooms for over $ 3,000.

"I wanted to stay in the center of downtown," said Ms. Lattimer.

New Brunswick's apartment buildings are a mix of single-family homes, older apartment buildings, and newer downtown luxury apartments. There are some older two- and three-family homes near the Rutgers College Avenue campus that are often rented out to students.

The city's population is similarly different, according to the US Census Bureau: 50 percent of the population identify as Hispanic or Latino, 25 percent as white, 15 percent as black or African-American and 10 percent as Asian.

The neighborhoods of Dewey Heights and Rutgers Village, near the New Jersey Turnpike, have a suburban feel. Single-family homes were built in the post-war period, said Andrew Zastko of Gloria Zastko Realtors in North Brunswick.

Anna Marie Henno, 60, and her fiancé John Reinke, 73, recently paid $ 408,000 for a ranch home in Dewey Heights. "I love access to all major highways," said Ms. Henno, who previously lived in an apartment in New Brunswick but wanted a house and a backyard for her young grandson who lives with her after the pandemic.

"It's a beautiful area and you are four minutes from downtown," she said of Dewey Heights.

Many of the city's residents rent their houses. Rents can range from around $ 800 for an unrenovated one-bedroom in an older building to $ 3,370 for a two-bedroom in Premiere Residences, the new apartments above the Center for the Performing Arts.

As of late September, 72 single-family homes, condominiums, and townhouses were available for sale on Zillow, ranging from a two-bedroom townhouse for $ 159,000 to a six-bedroom home for $ 850,000.

According to New Jersey Realtors, 71 single-family homes, condos and townhouses were sold in the first eight months of the year, compared to 114 in the same period in 2019. The decline in sales this year reflects a near-halt in real estate activity last spring, in the first few months the lockdown of the pandemic, said John Calandruccio, a Re / Max broker in New Brunswick.

With fewer homes in the market this year, sales prices have increased: condominiums and townhouses soared 10.8 percent to a median of $ 205,000 and single-family homes increased 17.6 percent to a median of $ 300,000 over the same period last year.

Students flock to bars and ethnic restaurants on Easton Avenue near the Rutgers University College Avenue campus, but the scene is quieter this fall as the pandemic has forced most students to study remotely. You can still get a "fat sandwich" at RU Hungry ?, a deli on Hamilton Avenue that carries on the legacy of the city's now-defunct fat cars. The cuisine is based on fried trifecta made from French fries, mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers.

New Brunswick prides itself on its cultural offerings, including Rutgers University's Mason Gross School of the Arts, George Street Playhouse, Crossroads Theater Company, and the American Repertory Ballet, now housed in the Center for the Performing Arts. Next door is the historic State Theater.

The city's dining scene is lively too, with popular spots like the Frog and the Peach, Steakhouse 85, Veganized, and Catherine Lombardi.

According to the New Jersey State Police, the crime rate in New Brunswick has fallen by more than half in the past two decades. However, two people were killed and six injured in an exchange of fire that night.

The New Brunswick public school system serves 10,200 students in nine elementary schools, one middle school, and New Brunswick High School. About 77 percent of students are considered economically disadvantaged, according to the New Jersey Department of Education.

New Brunswick High School has approximately 2,100 students; About 57 percent of 2018 graduates enrolled in college, compared to a national average of 78 percent. The SAT scores for 2018-19 were 475 for reading and writing and 480 for arithmetic, compared to national scores of 539 and 541, respectively.

There are also two public charter schools serving kindergarten through 12th grade students: Central Jersey College Prep and Greater Brunswick Charter School. Both offer entry by lottery.

New Brunswick is about 40 miles southwest of Times Square. The city has two train stations served by New Jersey Transit and Amtrak: one in the heart of downtown and one on Jersey Avenue in the south of the city. A New Jersey Transit train ride takes approximately an hour to Penn Station in Manhattan and costs $ 14 each way or $ 393 for a monthly pass.

The city is also served by Suburban Transit bus routes to New York City. The journey takes about an hour; The fare is $ 12.20 for a single trip or $ 400 for a monthly pass.

The New Jersey Turnpike cuts through an eastern corner of the city near the East Brunswick border. The drive to New York City takes approximately 50 minutes, but the trip can be much longer during rush hour.

During the Revolutionary War, George Washington and his soldiers stopped in New Brunswick in 1776 when they withdrew from the British via New Jersey. Alexander Hamilton led an artillery battery that delayed the enemy’s crossing of the Raritan and gave Washington’s troops time to escape.

Paul Robeson, the singer, actor, and activist, was Rutgers University's third African American student and their first African American soccer player. In 1919 he completed his studies as a valedictorian. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of this milestone last year, the University inaugurated Paul Robeson Plaza on the College Avenue campus, and the city changed the name of Commercial Avenue to Paul Robeson Boulevard.

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