Baristanet Real Estate Guide: Montclair

Dubbed the “Upper West Side” of New Jersey, Montclair is a diverse community with well-known liberal leanings just 12 miles west of Manhattan. It boasts a vibrant downtown which is home to the Montclair Art Museum, Wellmont Theatre and the indie/arts film fave, the Clairidge Cinema, as well as dozens of restaurants ranging from Ethiopian, Thai, Indian, Greek, Japanese as well as more than its fair share of Italian offerings. In addition to downtown Montclair, shopping can also be found in Upper Montclair (think Gap, William Sonoma) as well as other smaller shopping districts (Watchung Plaza, Walnut Street and the South End).

Montclair is known for its pioneering magnet school system. In the 1970s, as a result of a lawsuit, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education ordered Montclair to develop a plan to provide racial balance in the schools. Students continue today to attend elementary and middle schools chosen not by location, but by from magnet themes including science and technology or visual and performing arts. Easy access to Manhattan has resulted in Montclair’s increasing NYC transplant population– commuters choose between Midtown Direct service on the Montclair-Boonton line to New York Penn Station or DeCamp bus service to Port Authority.

Housing stock in Montclair ranges from Victorians and Craftsman colonials to stately brick Georgians, sprawling ranches and hillside contemporaries, many with stunning views of NYC. Some of the priciest homes are located at two opposite ends of Montclair — Upper Montclair and The Estate Section — but real estate eye candy can also be found in smack in the middle of town, in the tiny, tony enclave of Erwin Park. Famous residents include makeup mogul Bobbi Brown, comedian Stephen Colbert and baseball legend Yogi Berra.

On the market
Some 143 homes and condominiums are on the market at press time, ranging from $89,000 for a 1 BR condo to $2.9 million . “The buyers who are able are getting a very good interest rate. We anticipate the market to go down, but we cannot bank on that,” says Adriana O’Toole, realtor, Re/Max Village Square Realtors. “Our location is still very desirable; we have every house imaginable.”

O’Toole says potential buyers are attracted to Montclair’s economic and cultural diversity, the variety of housing at different prices, prices of homes right now, the caliber of shops, schools and the close proximity to New York City.

Average taxes on a $500,000 home are $16,000.

Vital statistics
37,669 people (2010 Census data)
(Source: using 2000 and 2010 U.S. Census Data):
Demographics: 56.4% white, 27.2% black, 3.8% Asian, 7.5% Latino.
Income: The median income for a household was $97,656 (based on 2000-2009 U.S. Census data, plus inflation), and the median income for a family was $121,464 (based on 2005-2009 estimate from American Community Survey based on data collected over a five-year period.)

Voted in 2008 Election: Obama 83.03%, McCain 15.72%

NJ Monthly High School Ranking: 94 out of 322 public high schools (2010), 85 (2008)
Schools: Nishuane (K-2), Hillside (3-5), Bradford, Charles H. Bullock, Edgemont, Northeast, Rand and Watchung (K-5), Glenfield, Mt. Hebron and Renaissance Middle Schools (6-8), Montclair High School (9-12), Montclair Kimberly Academy (Pre-K-12 private school)

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  1. Really, who writes this tripe?

    And why? Is Baristanet hoping this real estate paulum will be picked up for brochures by the swine who infest the real estate business? It doesn’t even sound written by a genuine “insider,” but rather by someone who’s only heard of Montclair. If Montclair is the “Upper West side of NJ” (whose? That of Bernard Mal;amud’s imagination? of later James T. Farrell? Of “Carlito’s Way?”), does that make Clifton the Hell’s Kitchen of NJ and Verona its Gramercy Park?

  2. I thought we were the “Park Slope of New Jersey.” Looks like we’re moving up in the world.

  3. I thought this was quoting from some magazine article or something. Then I realized it’s Bnet, sounding like a real estate commercial. It struck me as odd. And why the quote from Adriana O’Toole? Her houses are always the ones on the market for months, as opposed to houses through other agents/agencies that sell over a weekend. I do NOT get the quote about the market “going down.” Weird piece.

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