Affordable Suburbia

From the Record:

Garden apartments help shape the N.J. landscape

In North Jersey, garden apartment buildings are a little like pizzerias — there’s at least one in every town.

These two-story rectangles, usually faced with brick and set on grassy lawns, date to a post-World War II suburban building boom that also gave rise to strip malls and modest single-family subdivisions across the region.

And like other suburban building types, garden apartments aren’t on anybody’s list of design stars.

“They’re nondescript architecturally,” said architect Barry Poskanzer of Poskanzer Skott in Ridgewood. “I’ve never driven by one and thought, ‘That’s an interesting design.’ ”

“Monotonous,” said James Hughes, a Rutgers economist who has studied the history of New Jersey’s apartment markets.

Still, garden apartments have their place in the housing ecosystem. They’re a relatively affordable choice for many people just starting out, or those who can’t or don’t want to buy a home. And then there’s the green space that puts the “garden” in their name.

William Martin, a Westwood architect, said that the green space is one of the best features that garden apartments bring to the North Jersey landscape.

“If you look at complexes constructed in the ’50s and ’60s, they have mature trees, nice pathways, sometimes open space,” said Martin, co-chairman of the public awareness committee of the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects. “I think they’re a tremendous asset. They provide an alternative way to live in suburban New Jersey that isn’t a single-family home.”

Garden apartments, he said, help diversify a town’s demographics, allowing people to stay in the same town over their life cycles because they offer shelter for young people just starting out, as well as for older people looking to downsize. A garden apartment is often the first “adult” home for people in their twenties.

Over the years they’ve often been marketed as “luxury,” but compared to newer rentals, they’re fairly modest in terms of both size and amenities.

“You have a kind of community, you have a front door, you can drive up to your apartment. It doesn’t feel as urbanized,” said Ryan Sanzari, chief operating officer of Hackensack-based Alfred Sanzari Enterprises, which owns about 500 units in half a dozen garden complexes. Most were built by his grandfather, Alfred Sanzari, half a century ago.

Investors like them, too. Tom McConnell of Redwood Realty Advisors in Hasbrouck Heights has sold a number of North Jersey garden complexes. Investors who buy these buildings, he said, will pay roughly $125,000 to $225,000 per apartment in suburban towns, depending on the town.

“There’s a lot more demand than there is supply,” McConnell said. Investors like the steady income they can get out of the buildings, which have monthly rents that typically range from around $1,200 to $1,700 for a one-bedroom in North Jersey.

The heyday of garden apartment construction came in the 1950s and 1960s, part of the suburban building boom that followed World War II. Between the Depression and the war, there was a 15-year home-building drought, leaving an acute demand for housing that working people could afford.

“How do you economically meet that demand?” Martin asked.

Garden apartments were one answer, because they were relatively fast and easy to build, with wood frames and no need for concrete, steel or elevators. So a single-family builder without the expertise to construct a high-rise could easily diversify into garden apartments.

And they were a way to “create increased density in the suburbs,” according to Poskanzer, since more density generally means more profits for a builder.

Garden apartments make up a major part of the apartment market in New Jersey. About half the apartment units in the state were built from 1940 to 1979 — a period that includes the garden-apartment boom, according to a Rutgers report written by Hughes and a former colleague, Joseph Seneca.

This entry was posted in Demographics, Economics, New Jersey Real Estate. Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Affordable Suburbia

  1. Mike says:

    Good Morning New Jersey

  2. nwnj3 says:

    Not sure about any built I the 70s but the earlier ones were built pretty well, brick, plaster, oak floors. Not the vinyl, sheetrock and W2W carpeting POSes of today.

  3. alt-right (the good one) says:


    A growing amount of research suggests millennials intend to gravitate to suburbs
    just like their parents did

  4. grim says:

    Making some updates this morning.

  5. Juice Box says:

    CTRL-LEFT lol!

  6. grim says:

    Ok done for now.

  7. Comrade Nom Deplume, Annoying the Leftists for a Quarter of a Century says:

    Boy, slow day when the construction signs go up.

  8. STEAMturd says:

    The garden apartment of yesterday is the retail over commercial of today. These things are popping up every single place you look. And the construction always looks so shoddy. Stucco everywhere. Oh well.

  9. STEAMturd says:

    I meant residential over retail.

  10. Comrade Nom Deplume, Annoying Leftists for Over a Quarter of a Century says:

    A couple of years ago, when it looked like Treasury would crack down on inversions, this board posited that it would make US multinationals attractive to foreign companies.

    Here’s a passage from Senate hearing testimony from last year that I was reading:

    “In the absence of comprehensive tax reform from the Congress,
    the Treasury Department undertook extraordinary measures aimed
    at slowing that erosion [from tax inversions]. Nine months later, the Finance Committee is back for yet another hearing on international taxation, and the
    headlines are back once more.

    Once again, there is a wave cresting, and this wave is even bigger.
    Now it is foreign firms circling in the water and looking to
    feast on American competitors, often in hostile takeovers. Just like
    before, American taxpayers could be on the hook . . .”

    Any wonder why the Obama administration is blocking every merger or acquisition deal being announced? It isn’t about antitrust concerns . . . .

  11. STEAMturd says:

    This place is nice without plumpy.

  12. Comrade Nom Deplume, Annoying Leftists for Over a Quarter of a Century says:

    Meh. He gets under your skin more than he does mine. He may be prodigious in his posting but he pays his taxes and seemingly at least isn’t a taker or totally symp with their ilk.

  13. Comrade Nom Deplume, Annoying Leftists for Over a Quarter of a Century says:

    And ask your bride how she scared the living crap out of me today.

  14. STEAMturd says:

    Will do later.

  15. grim says:

    Testing new site

  16. D-FENS says:

    I posted something earlier that disappeared. Maybe that’s by design?

    Also, I no longer see numbers next to people’s posts. Just FYI…

  17. 1987 Condo says:

    Gene Wilder, RIP….I know he missed his wife greatly….

  18. chicagofinance says:


  19. Comrade Nom Deplume, the Deplumiest. says:

    [17] condo


  20. Grim says:

    Ok this is the new server, old one is dead.

  21. grim says:

    For most of the day the two sites were up, depending on when your DNS cache flushed was when you swapped from the old to the new. The comments posted to the old site are vaporized at this point.

  22. Anon E. Moose, Second Coming of JJ says:

    Condo [17];

    You know, these deadpool announcement just aren’t as interesting now that Abe really is gone.

  23. Comrade Nom Deplume, the Deplumiest. says:

    [10] redux

    Annnnd, right on cue, Mondelez backs out of Hershey talks. That was another deal that would have been DOA at DOJ

  24. [25] I bought HSY the day before the news of the Mondelez deal broke. I sold for 115 on the news and never looked back. I also bought ARMH the day of the Brexit plunge and sold it for a profit 1 day before they accepted a buyout for 50% premium. damn.

  25. STEAMturd says:

    Can you privately email everyone here the new address? Well, everyone here except for Plumpy. Then we can take bets on how long it takes for him to realize that we have moved.

  26. Essex says:

    Nice site.

  27. Comrade Nom Deplume, the Deplumiest. says:

    Yup, this is how it works. At least as of 2009. Prior to then, settlements went to Treasury.

    If you aren’t outraged you’re (a) brain dead, (b) a leftist partisan or (c) a vulture like me

  28. Juice Box says:

    Nom – around the paywall som the Jeff can read it…

  29. Juice box says:

    Around the pay wall so Libs can read it damm you auto correct!!!

  30. Juice box says:

    TTL- was 4 hours, got new ip earlier but damm proxy ugh! New sheriff in town at work too, no chance of barter for whitelist yet. I may go MiFi again, but I will need to kill autocorrect….

Comments are closed.