Wooden-Ridge, N.J.: Not Too Near the Metropolis, or Too Far Away

Wood-Ridge, N.J.: Not Too Close to the City, or Too Far Away

In Wood-Ridge, New Jersey, residents are used to clarifying where they live. "People don't always understand what you mean when you say 'Wood-Ridge,'" said Melanie Nicoletti, a former Brooklynite. "Ridgewood and Woodbridge" – better known addresses in the Garden State – "get them."

But it was the segregated borough in southern Bergen County that Ms. Nicoletti and husband Michael, now 38 and 39, landed in in 2014 after feeling the sticker shock of house prices in New York City. Ms. Nicoletti, an accountant, and Mr. Nicoletti, an electrician, wanted $ 408,000 for a three-story, two-bedroom townhouse in Liberty Square, part of Wesmont Station, a transit village on 150 acres of the former industrial site in the northwest corner of the miles of Wood Ridge.

"We bought a brochure – it was nothing but dirt when we first visited," said Ms. Nicoletti, adding that she and her husband, who work in Manhattan, are particularly excited about the prospect of a short walk a train station.

Now the parents of a 2-year-old have seen a neighborhood rise around them in an unpretentious, middle-class suburb 12 miles from Times Square. "We're not too close to the city," said Ms. Nicoletti, "but not so far where you can't get anywhere."

Wesmont Station has increased Wood-Ridge's population to nearly 10,000 (from 7,600 in 2010), with many of the newcomers coming from New York City and urban areas of New Jersey. The transit village is a mix of townhouses, condominiums, apartments and lots of greenery in pedestrian-friendly streets and currently has 1,050 apartments, around half of which are rented out. The site, which has undergone an environmental remediation, received its first piece in 2012, the Avalon with 406 units in the Wesmont Station apartment complex with retail on the ground floor. The station opened in 2016. Another 500 apartments are expected after completion of the district in 2024.

"Wesmont changed the dynamic of Wood-Ridge – the city is much more diverse now," said Robert Riccardella, a 30-year-old resident who was downsized from a colonial building a few blocks away to a townhouse in Wesmont Station. Mr. Riccardella, a former city councilor and member of the New Jersey State Parole Board, said most of his new neighbors were professionals who commute to town – or they did before the pandemic diluted the crowd at the train station. At 64, he added, "I'm one of the older guys down here."

Word of mouth brought Suren Chaturvedula, 36, and his wife Manasa, 35, to Wood-Ridge in 2016. Mr. Chaturvedula, a data engineer, and Ms. Chaturvedula, a software developer, had paid $ 3,200 a month for a month's one bedroom in a Jersey City skyscraper. For $ 616,000, they bought a new four-bedroom townhouse in Liberty Square in Wesmont Station after deciding that similar townhouses on New Jersey's Gold Coast were of an age that would require renovation.

"At first we didn't feel like we were part of Wood-Ridge," said Chaturvedula of life in the transit village, which is connected to the rest of Wood-Ridge by two residential streets. "But then they started putting on festivals right on our street, literally in front of our door."

The nationwide events with food trucks and music are designed to bring the millennials and empty nests of Wesmont Station into the local scene. (In 2020, the events were canceled due to the pandemic.)

Wood-Ridge is bordered by six other parishes and is on a ridge two miles from Teterboro Airport and three miles from the Meadowlands. Route 17, a state road, runs along the eastern edge.

Thanks to the tax revenue from Wesmont Station, the overall appearance of the district is neat and tidy. "We invested the tax revenue in the rest of the city," said Paul A. Sarlo, mayor since 2000. "For the past 15 years every street has been re-paved and every sidewalk replaced, and the street sweepers all go out of their way."

The gust of wind has also allowed the community to build a 12 acre synthetic turf sports complex at Wesmont Station (the soccer field is open and the ball fields will be ready this year) and allowed the school district to add a third building by purchasing an enclosed Catholic building School.

In contrast to the transit village, the rest of the housing stock in Wood-Ridge consists mainly of single-family homes and dates from the early and mid-20th centuries. Houses and land are modest. Due to the topography and tree cover more sparsely than in other suburbs, some accommodations offer views of Manhattan. The Tudor-style houses in Sunshine City, a development from the time of the Depression that triggered the district's first growth spurt, are particularly attractive.

As construction continues at Wesmont Village, some homeowners in the district have picked a cue. "A lot of people here have been motivated to polish and renovate," said Jason Mabel, who has been based since 2014. "You see houses coming down and new ones going up and capes being turned into colonial houses."

Mr. Mabel, 40, sales manager, and his wife, Michele, 41, special education teacher, added two bedrooms and two bathrooms to their three-bedroom colonial style from the 1920s, which they bought for $ 375,000. Former tenants in Little Falls, New Jersey, they chose Wood-Ridge because of its accessibility and proximity to New York City, as well as the promise of a new sports complex that their three sons are expected to use.

"Wood-Ridge has moved quickly from an old, small town," said Mabel.

Wood-Ridge property values ​​have risen due to the Wesmont train station and the new train station, said Susan LeConte, president and chief executive officer of LeConte Realty in neighboring Hasbrouck Heights.

"It's a great city for commuting because you can get anywhere pretty easily by train, bus or motorway," said Ms. LeConte. She noticed that Wesmont train station, one of two in the district, is accessible to many on the west side. "And I've heard from builders that they are looking specifically in this area."

On December 23, the New Jersey Multiple Listing Service website listed 10 single-family homes in the market at prices ranging from $ 410,000 to $ 639,999 and 12 townhouses and condos from $ 234,900 to $ 699,900. Of the latter, all but the three cheapest were in Wesmont Station. For new and future buildings at Wesmont Station, Wright Place development prices are generally around $ 600,000. The Link at Wesmont Station development costs $ 400,000.

From January 1 to November 30, 2020, 73 single-family homes in Wood-Ridge were sold for an average price of $ 465,000 and 36 townhouses and condos sold for an average of $ 441,000.

In 2019, Wood-Ridge's average annual property tax was $ 9,735, 19 percent below the Bergen County's average. Buyers of new homes at Wesmont train station receive a tax reduction of five years.

Home to an eclectic dining scene, Wood-Ridge topped NJ.com's 2019 list of "Great N.J. Food Cities Nobody Knows". About half of the storefronts in the tiny Valley Boulevard business district are restaurants or grocery stores, including a juicer, gelateria, Thai place, kebab house, and empanada shop. There is another cluster on Hackensack Street: Justin & # 39; s Ristorante II and Martini Grill, both Italians; Sparta Taverna, which serves Greek food; and buffalo for chicken wings.

Wood-Ridge's 1,200 public students attend Catherine E. Doyle Elementary School through third grade, Wood-Ridge Intermediate School (the former Catholic school) for fourth through sixth grades, and Wood-Ridge Junior Senior High School seventh grade. The average SAT scores for 2018-19 were 512 for reading and writing and 499 for arithmetic, compared to 539 and 541 for the state as a whole.

The ethnic and racial makeup of the district is 61 percent white, 26 percent Hispanic, 7 percent Asian and 4 percent black.

From any train station – Wesmont on New Jersey Transit's Bergen Line or Wood-Ridge on the Pascack Valley Line – passengers can reach Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan in 30 to 40 minutes. From Wesmont, where there is ample parking, the fare is $ 6.75 one way or $ 184 per month. From Wood Ridge station in the sliver of the borough east of Route 17, the fare is $ 5.50 each way or $ 170 a month.

New Jersey Transit buses stop on Valley Boulevard. The 35-minute drive to the Port Authority Terminal is $ 4.50 or $ 148 per month.

Wood-Ridge hit over his weight during World War II. The sprawling Curtiss-Wright Corporation manufactured engines for fighter-bombers and employed 20,000 men and women around the clock at the height of production. A bronze statue of Rosie the Riveter stands at the gate to the Wesmont Station houses that now occupy the site. The neighborhood's street names – Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Truman – continue the war theme.

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