Haworth, N.J.: A ‘True Hometown’ 20 Miles From Midtown Manhattan

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Haworth, N.J.: A ‘True Hometown’ 20 Miles From Midtown Manhattan

Like many newcomers, Jessica Shreefter and Corey Hennig hadn't known about Haworth, a densely forested neighborhood in northern Bergen County, New Jersey. There are no apartments, chain stores, or industry – just 1,150 single-family homes, a duck pond, a red brick school, two traffic lights, a couple of country clubs, four churches, and a one-block business district.

Ms. Shreefter, 43, and Mr. Hennig, 50] lived in a two-bedroom cooperative in Washington Heights, Upper Manhattan, where Ms. Shreefter runs pre-school and post-school programs. Wanting more space and a suburban setting, they began looking for a short drive over the George Washington Bridge in Tenafly, New Jersey, because they have long been members of a swimming club there.

Then, Ms. Shreefter recalled, her agent suggested another area, four miles northwest of Tenafly: “Have you ever heard of Haworth? It's the cutest little place. "

In April 2019, Ms. Shreefter and Mr. Hennig paid $ 745,000 for a three-level, three-bedroom home on half an acre next to a playground and ball field. Neighbors came by with wine and barbecue invitations when the family moved in, and a year later with homemade soup and bread when Ms. Shreefter and the children, now 14 and 5, signed Covid-19. The support further confirmed Mr. Hennig's feelings towards the affluent two square mile community, which he initially liked for the lack of through traffic.

"Since we are a multiracial family, I didn't know what to expect," said Hennig, a restaurant consultant. "I wouldn't call it the most diverse neighborhood, but there are a lot of cultural influences here. As a black person, I have to say that it is an incredibly welcoming city, how small it is."

Bill Beckett, a Haworth-based broker and owner of McSpirit & Beckett Real Estate in Tenafly, said it was common for New Yorkers to find their way to Haworth after living in more populous suburbs near the city like Tenafly and Cresskill. "They find that if they go further they can get a slower pace and a larger crowd for the same price," Beckett said. "And Haworth has a kind of exclusivity because it's so small."

For Farabe and Justin Algor, formerly from Frisco, Texas – the booming suburb where the Dallas Cowboys have their training facility – Haworth took some getting used to. A career opportunity for 38-year-old Algor, who works in finance, brought the family of five to the New York area. In 2018, the Algors paid $ 999,000 for a 2000 colonial six-bedroom style that was foreclosed and needed updating.

"Our first year was like, whoa, where did we move to?" said Ms. Algor, 36, a mother of 9-year-old twins and a 7-year-old who is staying at home. "But we love it here. It's cute and quaint and everyone knows everyone. It's a true hometown."

Now their kids are playing on the soccer field across the street and fishing in the duck pond, and the family joined one of the country clubs for golf, tennis and swimming. "It was a wonderful escape from the madmen we all lived with this year," said Ms. Algor.

Haworth is 20 miles from Midtown Manhattan. It borders Oradell, Dumont, Demarest and, to the west, the Oradell Reservoir, a regional source of drinking water. White Beeches and Haworth country clubs take up much of the western third of the borough, and a wooded footpath follows the banks of the reservoir.

The main street, Haworth Avenue, is a lovely postcard home. The tiny downtown along Terrace Street has new sidewalks and lampposts and is anchored by a pharmacy and gift shop. Whole Foods, Target, and other major retailers are in Closter, two miles away.

Buying a house in Haworth means getting a big lawn. Most houses – colonial houses are plentiful, but there are residences of all styles – stand in at least a quarter of an acre. The properties are older and bigger on the west side, closer to the country clubs. On the east side, the so-called manor section with ranches and split levels was developed in the 1950s, many of which have since been renovated and expanded.

In this district with 3,400 inhabitants, however, there is a change: A townhouse complex with 41 residential units, Haworth's first multi-family complex, was recently approved. Some of the units will meet the state-imposed obligation to provide affordable housing, said Mayor Thomas Ference.

According to the New Jersey Multiple Listing Service, between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020, 54 Haworth homes were sold for an average price of $ 635,000. Of those sales, 24 closed in July, August and September at an average price of $ 665,000 over the period, reflecting increased demand for homes in the New York suburbs as a result of the pandemic.

On October 28, the multi-listing website featured 26 homes priced between $ 499,000 and $ 2.195 million, and built from the 18th century to the present day. Some of the lower end are due to be replaced with over a million dollars worth of new build, said Karen Leddy, a district resident and agent at Coldwell Banker Realty in Closter, who noted a booming market. During the summer, she said, she listed an expanded colonial era from the 1940s for $ 865,000 and had a full price offer within two days.

Haworth's average annual property tax was $ 18,117, the 17th highest in New Jersey in 2019. Ms. Algor, the Texas transplant, admitted a sticker shock to her tax burden of over $ 30,000, three times what she was in Frisco. "As we warrant, we have three kids in school," she said. “Our daughter has eight children in her class this year because Covid has restrictions. last year she was 15. class sizes are extremely small. It is essentially a private school with no tuition. "

Haworth is the epitome of a small town, and it shows. Children gather in a trading block popular with Naturoll Sushi Takeout and the Minit Mart convenience store. A single lane bridge runs Ivy Avenue over the freight train tracks, an alternative to waiting at the Haworth Avenue level crossing. Many households rely on the Blue Book, a ring-bound telephone directory published by the Home and School Association. And the trees in the median of Haworth Avenue are wearing yellow ribbons in solidarity with homeowner Omoyele Sowore, a journalist and human rights activist who has been imprisoned in his native Nigeria since August 2019. Mr. Sowore, a legal US resident, served four months in prison without being formally charged with a crime; He is now under house arrest while his wife and children await his return in Haworth.

"Our church rose around him because he suffered injustices," said Ference. “The family are our friends and neighbors. As much as we can, we are trying to get the federal government to put pressure on the Nigerian government. But apart from that and the emotional support of the family, there is only so much we can do. "

All public school students attend Haworth Public School, with 400 enrolled through eighth grade. The racial and ethnic composition is 71 percent white, 5.5 percent Hispanic, 1 percent black, and 13 percent Asian. A wellness room – an emotionally supportive room with a sofa, bean bags and yoga mats, where students can talk to advisors – was set up in 2019.

Ninth grade students attend Northern Valley Regional High School in neighboring Demarest. In 2018-19, the average SAT scores for reading and writing were 624 and arithmetic at 646, compared with 539 and 541 across the state.

Residents can catch a New Jersey Transit Bus on Schraalenburgh Road and Massachusetts Avenue, a stop called Chestnut Bend. There are free parking permits nearby. The drive to the Manhattan Port Authority Terminal takes 45 minutes to an hour and costs $ 6 each way or $ 167 per month. The nearest train station on the New Jersey Transit Pascack Valley Line is in Oradell.

George Washington Bridge is a 20-minute drive from the Palisades Interstate Parkway.

In the 1870s, John S. Sauzade, a landowner with a passion for literature, named the local train station Haworth in honor of the English hometown of the sisters Brontë, Charlotte, Emily and Anne. The suburb, incorporated in 1904, is also linked to actress Brooke Shields, who lived in a sprawling Tudor house on Haworth Avenue as a child.

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