World

Springfield, N.J.: A Homey Place With Relatively Affordable Housing

Since they moved to an apartment in Springfield, N.J., in 2012, Brooke and Sam Wenocur have had two children and bought two houses. Through it all, they’ve chosen to stay in Springfield, most recently buying a five-bedroom house in 2021, for $790,000.

“Once we were here, the community was so nice we never left,” said Ms. Wenocur, 36, an insurance claims adjuster. “People tend to be down to earth. We also like the diversity — people from all walks of life and different backgrounds. We like the small-town kind of feel.”

Also, having easy access to Interstate 78, which slices through the Union County township, means that Mr. Wenocur, 37, a lawyer, can get to his office in Newark in just 20 minutes, traffic permitting.

Although Springfield has a lower profile than neighboring towns like Summit and Westfield, many buyers like its homey feeling and relatively affordable home prices.

“You’re going to get a little bit more for your money in Springfield than in some surrounding towns,” said Marisa Pica, a 27-year resident and an agent with David Realty Group, in Westfield.

Shops and restaurants line Mountain Avenue, one of Springfield’s two pedestrian shopping districts.Credit…Laura Moss for The New York Times

That was the experience of Virginia Hill, 33, a project manager at a plumbing fixtures company, and her husband, Daniel Montano, 35, a real estate agent with Signature Realty in Westfield. The couple, who have three children (and a fourth on the way), looked for homes in Westfield, Mountainside, Madison and other communities, but “finding a four-bedroom house in the $500,000 range was just unheard-of in those towns,” Mr. Montano said.

They ended up buying a four-bedroom colonial for $495,000 in Springfield in March 2022, and are happy with the choice. “The vibe is definitely family-friendly,” Mr. Montano said.

Lisa Ashraf, 35, a school counselor, moved to Springfield as a single woman in 2015, buying a one-bedroom condo and, later, a townhouse. In 2018, she and her husband, David Ashraf, 36, a stay-at-home father who also works as a mover, paid $450,000 for the ranch house where they now live with their three sons.

“I felt this would be a great place to raise a family,” Ms. Ashraf said. “You go to the store, you know you’re going to see someone you know.”

Township officials have been trying to revitalize the Morris Avenue shopping district by encouraging the construction of mixed-use retail and multifamily buildings. One mixed-use building recently opened near the corner of Morris and Mountain Avenues, but work has been halted on another site that was cleared for development in 2019.

“We continue to evaluate whether the property owner can complete the project,” Christopher Capodice, the mayor, said. “The township is actively evaluating its remedies if the project continues to be stalled.”

251 HILLSIDE AVENUE | A six-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom house, built in 1949 on 0.27 acres, listed for $995,000. 973-921-1111Credit…Laura Moss

What You’ll Find

Springfield, about 25 miles from Midtown Manhattan, has some 17,000 residents in five square miles. About 63 percent identify as non-Hispanic white, 17 percent as Hispanic, 10 percent as Asian and 9 percent as Black, according to census data.

Much of the housing dates to the postwar development boom; 1960s styles like split-levels are common. Some of the priciest homes are in the Baltusrol Top neighborhood (also known as the Top), a leafy, hilly area with winding streets and large lots overlooking the Baltusrol Golf Club.

The supply of homes for sale has been very tight — a recent check of Zillow turned up only about a dozen on the market. Yesenia Alcivar, an agent with Signature Realty in Summit, said that higher mortgage rates are discouraging homeowners from selling.

“There are a lot of people who have locked in interest rates in the twos and threes,” she said, referring to 2 to 3 percent mortgage interest rates. “Unless they have a big life change, they feel there’s no need to sell and buy something with interest rates in the sixes.”

35 BEVERLY ROAD | A five-bedroom, four-bathroom house, built in 1954 on 0.26 acres, listed for $899,000. 973-921-1111Credit…Laura Moss

What You’ll Pay

It is still possible, though not easy, to find a home in Springfield for less than $500,000. A recent search of the Garden State Multiple Listing Service showed asking prices ranging from $389,000 for a three-bedroom colonial built in 1914 to $995,000 for a renovated six-bedroom home built in 1949.

According to the multiple listing service, 191 single-family homes sold in Springfield during the year ending March 15, at a median price of $550,000. That compares with 226 homes sold during the previous 12-month period, at a median price of $520,000.

The Vibe

Springfield’s two small pedestrian shopping districts, on Morris and Mountain Avenues, are sleepy. But the township is “surrounded by towns that have beautiful downtowns” within a few minutes’ drive, said Michelle Pais, an agent with Signature Realty in Westfield.

In addition, busy Route 22 runs through the southern part of the township, offering access to many stores and restaurants. The Mall at Short Hills is also nearby.

Hikers can take advantage of Springfield’s proximity to two large nature preserves: Watchung Reservation, in Union County, and South Mountain Reservation, in Essex County, which includes the Turtle Back Zoo.

22 WOODSIDE ROAD | A five-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom house, built in 1963 on 0.34 acres, listed for $849,000. 973-218-9000Credit…Laura Moss

The Schools

The Springfield Public Schools district enrolls about 2,150 students in five schools: Jonathan Dayton High School; a middle school serving students in sixth through eighth grade; two schools serving those in third through fifth grade; and another serving students in prekindergarten through second grade.

More than half of the high school’s students take Advanced Placement classes, and 90 percent continue on to college. For the 2021-22 school year, average SAT scores were 544 in reading and writing, and 526 in mathematics (compared with state averages of 538 and 532).

Springfield voters recently approved a $32.9 million bond issue to fund renovations and repairs at the district’s schools.

The Commute

Springfield is not on a commuter train line, but the township runs a shuttle bus from the Springfield Community Pool parking lot to the Short Hills New Jersey Transit rail station. The shuttle bus costs $3 a ride or $50 a month. From the Short Hills station, the trip to Penn Station can take up to an hour and costs $8.50 one way or $254 a month.

New Jersey Transit’s Bus No. 114 goes from Springfield to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan. The trip takes about 50 minutes and costs $7 one way or $199 for a monthly pass.

The First Presbyterian Church was built in 1791, to replace a church burned by British and Hessian soldiers during the Battle of Springfield.Credit…Laura Moss for The New York Times

Commuters who prefer to drive enjoy the easy access to Interstate 78, which cuts through Springfield and brings drivers to Lower Manhattan through the Holland Tunnel or to Midtown Manhattan via the New Jersey Turnpike and the Lincoln Tunnel. Either route takes about 35 to 50 minutes, though the drive can be much longer in heavy traffic.

Commuters who work in New Jersey have easy access to surrounding counties thanks to Interstate 78, which connects to the turnpike, the Garden State Parkway and Interstate 287.

The History

In June 1780, British and Hessian forces marching toward a large Continental Army encampment in Morristown were turned back by Continental soldiers and New Jersey militia members in the Battle of Springfield, according to the Springfield Historical Society. The British burned most of what was then the village of Springfield, as well as the First Presbyterian Church, as they retreated; the church was rebuilt in 1791. The battle marked the last British invasion of New Jersey.

Baltusrol Golf Club covers nearly 500 acres in the heart of Springfield. Founded in 1895, with a Tudor-style clubhouse built in 1910, the private club has hosted numerous PGA Tour events, including seven U.S. Open Championships, and is a national historic landmark.

For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here.

Related Articles

Back to top button