Bloomfield, NJ: a pedestrianized suburb with plenty of green space

Seeking to leave their Jersey City apartment after the birth of their first child, Angelina and Scott Peters spotted communities in neighboring Essex County, New Jersey. The couple fell in love with Montclair. “But it was a little out of our price range,” said Mr Peters, 43, who works in the back office of a bank. Then they found Bloomfield, right next door.

In the summer of 2019, the couple, who now have two children, purchased a four-bedroom colonial in the northern part of the township for $ 430,000. They appreciated the easy access to New York, the diverse population, and the popular neighborhood Oak View Elementary School.

Bloomfield also offered “a good mix of parks and restaurants,” said Ms Peters, 40, director of a customer experience consulting firm.

Buyers like the Peters are heating up the housing market in Bloomfield, a township of about 53,000 people over 5.3 square miles, about 18 miles west of Midtown Manhattan. And newcomers arrive during a period of transition: the downtown shopping district is being redeveloped with more than 600 apartments, the result of the township being designated in 2003 as a transit village by the state of New Jersey, in as part of a program to encourage newcomers to housing near stations.

Housing is not the only notable redevelopment. Bloomfield also recently converted a former industrial site into Lion Gate Park, a project of which City Councilor Wartyna L. Davis, Dean of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at William Paterson University, is particularly proud.

“It was a big undertaking to turn it from brown to green,” Dr Davis said of the park, which includes a soccer field, a playground and four acres of wetlands.

Karine Limor, 34, and Rafael Martinez, 43, moved to Bloomfield in the fall of 2018. Ms. Limor, sales manager for a baby products company, and Mr. Martinez, real estate investor, had lived in Manhattan since then. six years old, enjoying the culture, restaurants and the convenience of being able to walk almost anywhere. But when they had their first child, they decided they needed more space and started working with it. Suburban junglea company that helps city dwellers find the right person in the suburbs.

The couple paid $ 540,000 for a three-bedroom colonial near Brookdale Park, the shops and restaurants of Broad Street, and the Watchung Plaza shopping district in Montclair. They love the mix of suburban green space and urban walking.

“I am a great walker,” Ms. Limor said. “There are certainly amenities in Bloomfield that you can walk to that you may not be able to walk in a quieter suburb.”

Ms Limor and Mr Martinez, now parents of two boys, met other young families who have recently moved to Bloomfield. “We liked the idea that it was coming,” Ms. Limor said. “It was very easy to find other like-minded people to connect with as a family.”

Bloomfield is roughly rectangular, sandwiched between Montclair and Glen Ridge to the west, Nutley and Belleville to the east, Clifton to the north, and East Orange to the south. The population is diverse: 41% Whites, 29% Hispanics, 20% Blacks and 9% Asians, according to census data.

Much of the township was developed before WWII, with leafy neighborhoods and early 20th-century houses, including Tudors and Colonials, on small lots. Amy Owens, an agent for Keller Williams Realty in Montclair, said the neighborhoods of Brookdale and Oakview are particularly popular with young families, due to the highly rated elementary schools.

As in other suburban areas, demand for housing increased in Bloomfield during the pandemic as buyers sought to leave towns, which led to several offers on many homes, said Oneida Mendez-Laws, agent for Coldwell Banker, in Montclair.

According to the Garden State Multiple Listing Service, in the 12 months ending December 15, 2021, 516 single-family homes sold for a median price of $ 440,000; In the past 12 months, 447 single-family homes have sold for a median of $ 391,000.

A recent multiple listing service check found 49 properties on the market, from a studio condominium listed for $ 110,000 to a renovated three-bedroom colonial listed for $ 600,000.

The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in an older building is about $ 1,500; in a new building, a similar-sized apartment could be rented for $ 2,000 a month, said Michael Sisto, of Sisto Realty in Bloomfield.

Bloomfield has three shopping districts: Bloomfield Center, in the southern part of the township, on Bloomfield Avenue; Broad Street; and Upper Broad Street. Green spaces include Watsessing Park, Brookside Park and Brookdale Park, as well as the Township Green.

Popular dining establishments include Gencarelli’s, an Italian bakery; Stamna Taverna, a Greek restaurant; Brookside Thai; The Portuguese BBQ Pit; Bloomfield Steak & Seafood House; and Anthony’s Cheesecake and Restaurant. Holsten’s on Broad Street features ice cream and ‘Sopranos’ nostalgia – it was the setting for the much-discussed final scene of the HBO series.

The Bloomfield School District serves approximately 6,300 students in 11 schools: an early childhood center serving preschool and kindergarten children; eight elementary schools serving junior kindergarten or kindergarten to grade six; a college serving the seventh and eighth years; and Bloomfield High School, serving grades 9 through 12.

In the 2019-2020 school year, the average SAT scores for students at Bloomfield High School were 499 in math and 499 in read and write, compared to an average of 536 in each. The student body is approximately 42% Hispanic, 26% White, 23% Black, and 7% Asian.

Private schools in the area include the Montclair Kimberley Academy, for Kindergarten to Grade 12 students; the Montclair Cooperative School, an elementary school; and two Catholic elementary schools, St. Cassian in Montclair and St. Thomas the Apostle in Bloomfield.

Bloomfield is on the Montclair-Boonton New Jersey Transit line, and trains stop at two township stations, Bloomfield Station and Watsessing Avenue Station. Either way, the ride to Penn Station in Manhattan takes just over half an hour and costs $ 6.75 one way or $ 184 per month.

The train is “a huge draw to New Yorkers,” said Roy Castro of Living New Jersey Realty in nearby Lyndhurst. Some are even finding that their commutes are improving, Mr Castro said, citing a client who recently shortened his commute to Manhattan by moving to Bloomfield from Brooklyn.

Depending on traffic, New Jersey Transit buses can take 45 to 60 minutes (or more) to reach the Port Authority bus terminal in Midtown; the one-way fare from the Allwood Road ride-on parking lot, just across the border in Clifton, is $ 6, or $ 167 per month.

For those who prefer to drive, the Garden State Parkway runs north to south through Bloomfield, and Route 3 and Interstate 280 are major east-west highways nearby.

The Morris Canal, a 19th-century engineering marvel, ran through Bloomfield towards Jersey City and the Hudson River. The canal carried coal from Pennsylvania and iron ore from northwest New Jersey, but it ultimately could not compete with the railroads and was closed in the early part of the 20th century. In Bloomfield, parts of the Garden State Parkway and John F. Kennedy Drive were built on the bed of the old canal, said Jean Kuras, president of the Township Historical Society. Bloomfield was also once an industrial powerhouse, home to factories that produced consumer goods for General Electric, Schering-Plow, Clark Thread, and Charms Candy.

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