WESTFIELD, NJ – For Donna Rubin and her husband, the decision to simplify their lives financially after their two sons graduated from high school meant leaving Westfield. The couple lived in the Wychwood section of town for 12 years but moved to Red Bank in July, where comparable homes are about half the price of Westfield’s and taxes roughly one-third, Rubin said.
For some years now many older residents like the Rubins whose children are grown and gone have chosen to leave Westfield in search of a smaller home or a smaller tax bill, or both.
Now there will be new options for those older residents who are ready to shed the responsibilities of owning a large house but who also want to stay in town.
Two new apartment complexes were approved in 2015, with ground already broken on 333 Central, a luxury rental community on Central and South Avenues. A mixed-use complex to be built at 411 North Avenue West was granted site plan approval this fall.
Meanwhile, an application for a 31-unit complex at West Broad Street and Rahway Avenue is expected to be given to the planning board this month, Mayor Andy Skibitsky announced in his state of the town address last week.
After news of 333 Central’s approval hit in late summer, developer Claremont Companies, received calls of interest from “numerous” empty-nesters in Westfield, said Richard Sciaretta, director of the Far Hills-based firm.
“No matter what cycle they hit in life, residents try to stay in Westfield for obvious reasons,” Sciaretta said, noting the good transportation options in town.
The complex at 333 Central Ave. will consist of equal parts one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments with at least 9-foot ceilings, hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances. Some apartments will also have a den and/or a private terrace. The building will be equipped with a “top-notch” gym and yoga studio and a common rooftop terrace for all residents, as well as an entertainment lounge available for gatherings. The building will also be pet-friendly and will feature a dedicated outside dog run and an inside pet grooming area.
“We are directly going to be marketing those [two-bedroom] units to more of those Union County empty-nesters,” said Sciaretta.
Meanwhile, the one-bedroom apartments may appeal to a young professional couple.
“We’re hoping to get a lot of matriculation from New York City and the waterfront – Jersey City, Hoboken,” he said.
The building planned to go up at 411 North Avenue West, where The Office Bar & Grill currently stands, will consist of 1,200 square feet dedicated to retail and personal services on the first floor, while a total of 20 luxury one- and two-bedroom apartments would occupy the second and third floors. Thirty-three ground-level parking spaces under the structure are also included in the plans.
Mayor Skibitsky said in his address that these developments will provide housing alternatives that may appeal to existing residents.
“Perhaps they no longer need the size of the home in which they currently reside,” he said. “Perhaps they just want to simplify their daily lives and wish to remain in the town they love, close to friends and relatives.”
As hopeful as developers and the mayor are that the new apartments will appeal to empty nesters, some older couples looking to downsize but wishing to stay in the area may not be attracted to the new complexes, according to Weichert Realtor Nancy Kronheimer.
“Yes, I see a demand for it on the young professional side as they are looking for convenience to be close to the train, will love the accessibility of the downtown with shopping and restaurants and probably not be as expensive as living in Manhattan, Hoboken or Brooklyn. I also see it attractive to single parents who want to remain in the area or have their children in Westfield schools,” Kronheimer said.
“Downsizers, on the other hand, generally don’t want to be in a noisy building with a lot of in-and -out traffic." And the new buildings will be at busy intersections, she added.
“I have had clients move into the new 55+ housing in Clark — Woodcrest at Clark — which has elevators, an open floor plan easy accessibility to the complex and lots of parking,” Kronheimer said.
Donna Rubin, who recently moved to Red Bank, said that she and her husband chose moving away over moving into an apartment.
“The apartments are an exciting development, but we were not interested in apartment or condo life,” she said. “We would’ve stayed in our house if we were staying in Westfield. Unfortunately, the decision to move was a decision to leave the town.”