From the Record:
In a sign of the housing industry’s rebound, two large North Jersey redevelopment projects — in Wood-Ridge and Cliffside Park — are picking up momentum after being stalled during the real estate downturn.
The steel framework is going up at the Towne Center project in Cliffside Park, and developers Fred Daibes and James Demetrakis of Edgewater now expect the project to open around September 2015.
And at the Wesmont Station redevelopment, on part of the old Curtiss-Wright factory site in Wood-Ridge, Pulte Homes has begun work on a section of 217 town houses, while nearby, land is being cleared for 104 affordable apartments.
The Wood-Ridge and Cliffside Park redevelopments are moving forward at a time when home building — especially multifamily building — is on the rise again in New Jersey, after falling to post-World War II lows in the wake of the recession and housing bust. This year, New Jersey home construction approvals are running at their strongest pace since 2006, about 29 percent ahead of last year’s level.
“You’re seeing a convergence of long-term trends toward more multifamily, transit-oriented residential development and the housing market emerging from the deep recession that the industry was in,” said Christopher Jones, vice president for research at the Regional Plan Association.
“There’s a pent-up demand for housing, and builders are getting into position to meet this demand,” said Ralph Zucker, head of Somerset Development, the master developer at Wesmont Station.
The two projects reflect builders’ interest in North Jersey; Bergen and Hudson counties have accounted for about 30 percent of the home building in the state this year. And multifamily projects like these two currently make up about 60 percent of the construction activity in the state — an unprecedented share at least since World War II.
“It’s a fundamental and dramatic change in the housing market,” said James Hughes, a Rutgers economist. After “the great suburbanization trend from 1950 to 2000,” he said, “the geography of housing development is changing.”
“Living far out in the suburbia and exurbia is giving way to moving back toward the center of the region,” Hughes said.
Millennials, in particular, want a more urban lifestyle, closer to mass transit, Jones and Hughes said.
“They have been raised in the suburbs, and they were happy with that; it was a safe environment,” said Hughes. “But that’s not where they want to live. They don’t want to be stuck in a plain vanilla suburb.”