The key to growth

From the Record:

Population rebounds around train stations in N.J.

When Kevin Eleby started commuting by train to New York City in 2001, the station in downtown Paterson was nearly empty. Every morning he climbed the stairs to the platform to wait alongside three other riders.

Nearly a decade passed. A few new people started showing up. Then a few more. A few weeks ago, when his train rushed into the station at 7:39 a.m., Eleby was surrounded by a crowd of 45 |people.

“This place was deserted. Now you come up here and it’s full. Look at all these people!” said Eleby, 48, a Paterson resident who works in information technology for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. “It’s a big change.”

It’s a change that’s taking place across New Jersey and in some of the nation’s largest metropolitan regions. During the housing boom of the early 2000s, New Jersey’s population grew by 2.8 percent. But car-dependent suburbs saw their populations grow by 4.1 percent, according to a study by Tim Evans, research director at New Jersey Future, which advocates for transit-oriented development. Meanwhile, neighborhoods within a half-mile of a transit station barely grew at all.

Then came the 2008 recession — and a major shift in population and commuting patterns.

Statewide, population growth slowed, dropping to 1.5 percent from 2008 through 2014, the latest year for which data is available. Car-oriented suburbs grew at roughly the same rate.

But during the same period, transit-oriented neighborhoods saw their population surge. Since the recession, they have accounted for 38.3 percent of the population growth in New Jersey, Evans found.

“It’s really dramatic, actually, how little these transit places were growing before 2008 and now they’re growing really quickly,” Evans said. “And the outlying counties that were the locus of sprawl are now losing population.

In Bergen and Passaic counties, many older suburbs grew up along train lines, and many newer ones are dependent on cars. That means the change in population patterns is not as stark here as elsewhere around the state, Evans said.

Yet the pattern holds. Most car-based municipalities in North Jersey continued to grow after 2008, but at a slower pace than before the recession, Evans said. Places like Montvale, Cresskill, Upper Saddle River in Bergen County; Wanaque in Passaic County; and Pompton Plains in Morris County all saw their growth rates stagnate.

But many transit-oriented neighborhoods grew. In Bergen County, Fair Lawn, Lyndhurst, Garfield, Ridgewood and Glen Rock all went from losing population before the recession to gaining population since 2008.

“It’s definitely true that places near transit have been growing faster than they had for many decades before the recession,” Evans said.

In North Jersey, the epicenter of this transit turnaround is Paterson. The neighborhood within a half-mile of the city’s downtown train station lost 473 people every year on average between 2000 and 2008, according to census figures. In the years since, it has gained an average of 220 people annually.

One of those newbies is Antonia Felix, 25, who moved to an apartment near the station in December so she could catch a train into Manhattan, where she works as a nanny. Standing beside her on the platform one recent weekday morning was Natalie Petrardo, who rented an apartment nearby in November.

“I moved here so that I could catch the train to Secaucus,” where she works in a warehouse, said Petrardo, 26. “I don’t have a car, and the train service here in the morning is really good.”

Longtime commuters notice the difference. Marilyn Romero rides the train every weekday from Paterson to Ramsey, where she works at a dry cleaner’s shop.

“I was afraid when I started. There was nobody up here,” said Romero, 30, who started riding the train 15 years ago. “Now it feels safer with all these people here.”

That switch is even more impressive than it seems, Evans said. That’s because like most neighborhoods near train stations, downtown Paterson already was built-out in 2008, with little vacant land. Growth there meant developers had to renovate, expand or bulldoze existing buildings to make room for new housing units, often at more expense than building a house with a two-car garage on formerly rural land.

“The growth there is remarkable because it isn’t as easy to do in a place that already has used up all of its developable land,” Evans said. “You have to do more steps to make that happen.”

This entry was posted in Economics, Housing Recovery, New Development, New Jersey Real Estate. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to The key to growth

  1. Comrade Nom Deplume, Recovering From The Slopes says:


  2. Comrade Nom Deplume, Recovering From The Slopes says:

    Frist, even

  3. grim says:

    Hey you near Cheltenham?

  4. Comrade Nom Deplume, Recovering From The Slopes says:

    Not really. Why?

  5. Comrade Nom Deplume, Recovering From The Slopes says:

    [3] grim

    You aren’t at Fox Chase I hope?

  6. Comrade Nom Deplume, Recovering From The Slopes says:

    LA Times reports that Cali min wage hike set to decimate SoCal apparel industry.

    Actions have consequences.

    In another LA Times story, it seems Uber and Lyft are killing the LA taxi industry. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of humor.

  7. Grim says:

    Anyone know anyone with a flatbed or trailer that will haul a load from philly to Clifton for me on Monday morning?

  8. Comrade Nom Deplume, Recovering From The Slopes says:

    This from a story on Apple’s recycling:

    “[Apple] also recently started using a new experimental line of robots dubbed Liam. They’re designed to disassemble 1.2 million phones a year, sorting all their various components. Liam prototypes are operating in California and the Netherlands.”

    Made me think of Wall-E. And how many more jobs went with it.

  9. Not Plum E says:

    Jobs, schmobs!

    What matter is choosing the pragmatic path, that ignores all ideologies and gets to you point of:

    Made me think of Wall-E. And how many more jobs went with it.

    By finding a way to get to the path where everyone is able to become like the ship’s resident. Fatties lying on self propelled sofas.

    Otherwise is Mad Max, after some of the effete 1% tried the Elysium route.

  10. Comrade Nom Deplume, Recovering From The Slopes says:

    [10] not a plum

    Well that was sort of coherent.

  11. plum (10)-

    I first made the ‘life imitates Wall-E’ call here about eight years ago.

  12. A few years ago I calculated, and posted here, that the all-in cost of owning a car is about $1,100 per month. That’s $13,200 AFTER taxes. Add in Zip-car, Uber, etc. and it’s just like the ultra-rich are now doing with Super-yachts: It’s best just to have a car/yacht when you need it, so why not rent? My wife and I for almost 10 years got by with just one car at our place in Boston. From 2011-2015 we got a second car on lease for 42 months. Now we’re back to 1 every day car (and it’s our long paid off 2002, which requires about $1,000 per year in maintenance for the last 7 years or so) and we’re still going back and forth as to whether we need a 2nd car again. Now, take that nanny in the article. If she spends $200 per month on a train pass as opposed to $1100 per month on a car, that is probably HUGE at her salary level. Similarly, any family that is treading water with two cars, not saving anything, could sock away $10K per year cutting back to one car. I believe that suburban expansion is over in the US, but this isn’t that. Wages are flat so people are cutting expenses where they can.

  13. crap. BEFORE taxes, not AFTER taxes.

  14. crap again, I was right the first timedd, AFTER taxes.

  15. joyce says:

    With a lot of the new high rises having PILOT payments, how will they be affected by a reval? I assume they will just stay the same, so in turn how will that affect the rates and amounts the rest have to pay?

  16. Gooners ship some more points at home. What an awful side.

  17. Libturd at home for one more night before CHOP says:

    My beloved Redbulls suck camel cock this season too. Was Miazga that good?

  18. Libturd at home for one more night before CHOP says:

    My beloved Redbulls suck camel cokc this season too. Was Miazga that good?

  19. Juice Box says:

    Awesome beach day here in Sea Bright nice soft cool breeze could easily get sunburnt.

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