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At the top of the hill in Maplewood sits a really beautiful home I just listed with lots of conveniences, fine details, a view and a history.  Check out the link below for more details.

Front View

http://7981collinwoodrds.thebestlisting.com/

 

 

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The New Tax Bill and NJ real estate. Moody’s vs Otteau

Among those of us who live in Northern NJ, there seems to be a general view that the new tax law will negatively impact our individual finances (as shown in the map using Moody’s analytics) .  While it is understandable to feel that way, there is a more optimistic (or resilient) view of the new tax law’s effect on NJ real estate, which will be covered here by real estate guru, Jeffrey Otteau.

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My political tendencies may be showing here but, Paul Ryan and Donald Trump basically admitted to trying to penalize high tax states like CA, NJ and IL  (para 5,6,7 of this link  Ryan’s blue state comments  ), even though those states contribute more to the federal coffers than they receive.  Among those being rewarded by the law, MS, KY, AL and many other red states generally receive more than they contribute – New Mexico is the main state that doesn’t fit the pattern. – state contributions
So if you’re worried the new Republican tax law will crush home prices in New Jersey and you’re listening to the media coverage coming out of Washington, then you’re looking to assess impact and take appropriate action.  According to Moody’s, the tax plan will most likely hit NJ and other suburban areas of the bigger, mostly coastal cities harder than it will hit rural, southern, Rocky and Great Plains areas.
But here’s real estate guru Jeffrey Otteau’s optimistic take on the recent changes to the tax code earlier this week.  “There’s no reason to panic here,” said Otteau, president of The Otteau Group. “I heard some bold predictions about Armageddon, about house prices collapsing and losing 10 to 15 percent in value.  There’s NO basis for that.” 
Otteau believes overall NJ home prices will continue to climb in 2018, but at a slower rate than previously predicted, as would-be new homebuyers step back to assess the new law’s impact on their pocketbooks with their accountants.  From my personal view of the market, January has already begun strongly with multiple bids on a few good area listings.
Otteau has a few other reasons for (short term) optimism:

1 – The lower tax brackets will somewhat offset the elimination of deductions

2 – People buy homes for lots of reasons – schools, proximity to work, the freedom and pride home ownership provides, the vibe and culture of an area. Taxes rank lower on the ladder of reasons

3 – The economy has continued to improve (since the lows of 2009) – jobs up and unemployment still low

4 – Interest rates are forecast to rise this year and that will compel buyers to act before they rise higher.

5 – And finally Otteau believes the reduction in the corporate rate will compel more hiring.  I’m yet to be convinced of this one as I believe most of this money will end up with management and in company stocks.

Finally, and said long before Otteau was born, Owning is usually a far better long term financial strategy than renting.

Many locals and their municipalities have already begun taking measures to lessen the impact of this new bill.   South Orange and Maplewood among other towns have made pre-paying property taxes early simpler, but there are more ways to lessen the impact.  Below are six additional suggestions (see link – prep for new tax law – for more explanation of each measure).  Prep for the new tax law
1- increase charitable deductions
2- expenses, which include travel, professional dues, education costs, conference fees, cars and electronic equipment, can be deducted to the extent they exceed 2 percent of adjusted gross income.
3-medical
4-delay income
5-moving for work do it sooner
6-alimony

A tale of two parklets

 

millburn_avenue_parklet     parklet

 

 

 

 

 


 

Millburn will receive a Complete Streets Excellence award at Rutgers on October 24 for the changes made in Downtown Millburn,   The $8.2 million Complete Streets program was developed with traffic calming & improvements that include road-diets, curb bump-outs, bicycle parking, widened sidewalks and corners, high-visibility crosswalks, pedestrian lighting, signage and more.

According to town officials, positive changes have resulted. Speeds have decreased in the reconfigured areas of Millburn Avenue (average motorist now travels at 29 mph). Compared to the three years preceding construction, the Main Street intersections of both Millburn Ave. & Essex St. have experienced a 23% decrease in motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents.

A new app called mPay2Park makes paying for parking simpler allowing for mobile payments with no transaction fees. Zone C along Millburn Avenue now offers free 15 minute parking at the pay stations for those that just want to run a quick errand.  However, some residents have expressed concern about traffic during peak hours.

The parklet in downtown South Orange is also getting recognition. SO Environmental Commission receiving ANJEC award.  The scope and the budget of the project was a fraction of Millburn’s

Its the work of the S.O. Environmental Commission, Neil Chambers of Chambers Design, South Orange Village Center Alliance’s Bob Zuckerman, Matt Glass, Steve Pedigo, town trustee Walter Clarke, Village President Sheena Collum, South Orange Parking Authority, Essex County and donations from Tito’s Burritos, Yoni Kreger, Eventage and others.

According to Sheena, “A parklet is an emerging trend in public space design that encourages towns and cities to rethink auto-oriented concrete spaces into public, passerby-friendly ‘hotspots.’ So yeah, we gave up a couple parking spots temporarily from carbon producing automobiles (we’re promoting more sustainability in this town, remember? #ParisAgreement) and instead, created a new mini destination for all our residents, businesses and guests to use. This is called ‘tactical urbanism’ – and is very popular in the planning field.”

 

Kari Capone, SOMA’s knitwear designer

 

SOMA’s knitwear designer is Kari Capone and she’s been knitting clothing for SOMA and beyond since 2007. To see her creations, visit her at Etsy (below), at the Bizarre Bazaar, or find her in action knitting while walking down Maplewood Ave or at the Able Baker.

Kari is not just about wool and needles; she recently set up a great event.  She will be hosting a dance/birthday party/Under the Sea-themed charity event to raise money for Parkinson’s disease at Maplewood’s The Woodland on Sunday, November 12, from 2-5 pm.  Here are a few questions and answers with Kari…

1 You are a prolific creator, were you always interested in knitting and sewing?
I learned to knit when I was about 21 years old from my great-aunt Mary. But I’ve always been crafty! Starting at age 6, I learned to crochet & needlepoint. I also loved to latch hook & made rugs for my two younger brothers. I was a rabid cross-stitcher (it used to be a thing) until knitting took over as my passion.

2 You’re staging an ‘ENCHANTMENT UNDER THE SEA’ dance party and benefit for Parkinson’s at the woodland in Maplewood.   what’s the most important thing to you about it?  Not everyone knows this, but the Enchantment Under the Sea dance is also my 40th birthday party celebration. My dad died from Parkinson’s two years ago. He was only 66 years old. He and I LOVED the Back to the Future movies. One of his favorite lines was, “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.” My goal is to raise $4000 for the foundation – it seems like a nice round number for my 40th birthday. 🙂

3 Who is the most famous person that you’ve knitted for?  I haven’t knit anything for someone famous (yet) but one fun fact… I knitted about 125 pussy hats in the year 2017!  I met Vanna White this year at a crafting conference and would love to teach her to knit. She’s more of a crocheter.

4 What’s the strangest thing you’ve knitted, sewn or created?  The strangest thing I’ve ever knitted would have to be a full-length body suit, for an interpretive dance costume. A close second was an extra-large, Pepto-Bismol pink, double-breasted sweater coat with white fuzzy trim.

5 What drew you to live in SOMA?   My ex-husband & I moved to South Orange and bought our first house here in 2005. We loved raising Andrew on a dead-end street; he could play with the other kids and we could walk him downtown to see the “choo-choos.”  Now, we all live in Maplewood. Andrew’s dad and I live only a mile away from each other, and we’ve had such great experience in the schools (Marshall, Seth Boyden, MMS, & now CHS).

6 Who’s your favorite musician/band/singer?  It’s difficult to choose my favorite musician. My favorite singer is Ella Fitzgerald. I also love Gillian Welch.

7 If you could have three people at a dinner party who would they be?  If I could have three people at a dinner party, I’d invite Marie Forleo (marietv.com), Tim Ferriss (timferriss.com), and Kanye West. That would be an epic party.

8 What’s your favorite place in the world? I love many places, but I must say the Able Baker is one of my happiest places.

9 What would you like to see more of in SOMA?   I used to own a cafe on Springfield Ave. I have a real heart for the neighborhood; I’ve lived there for ten years now. I’d love to see Julie Doran’s and Vic Deluca’s work on Springfield Avenue continue. I’m especially looking forward to the day when the vacant lot near my building is a public park, or a tea house, or an artist’s cooperative, or…

A brief Q&A with Sam Finlay

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Finlay & Gage, SOMA’s’ new ‘string shop’ will celebrate their grand opening on Sept. 16 (from 11 til 5) at 1677 Springfield Ave., #19 in Maplewood.  It will be such a convenience and pleasure to have a music center in town for string players from professional to beginner.  The shop will rent, sell and repair stringed instruments. Sam Finlay, the manager lives in South Orange and here is a bit of Q&A with the renaissance man himself!
1  were you always interested in music? what instrument(s) do you play?  I started on viola in Junior high, took up string bass in high school & studied it in college, too.  While in school & for a while after, I played bass professionally.
2  what gave you the idea to open the Finlay & Gage stringed instrument store locally?  When I moved here, I was inspired by the level of artistry in the people I met here. When I saw the quality of instruments that the kids had access to and the fact that adults couldn’t get a decent repair without driving a distance, it seemed like I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t offer them something better.
At first, I thought I would just bring instruments from NY, where we have a large store. And then my good friend Matt Smollon, cofounder of SOMa film fest, showed me a location in Maplewood & it seemed like too perfect an opportunity to pass up.


3  what drew you to live in south orange?   My wife, daughter & I came here for backyards, sense of community, & school system. I grew up in the city and was looking for something a little different for my kid. I didn’t want to give up the city altogether, so this seemed like the perfect place.
4  who’s your favorite musician/band/singer? Beethoven, Charles Mingus, The Clash, George Jones, Clutch, Tom Waits, Frank Sinatra, NAS and the Wu Tang Clan

5  if you could have three people at a dinner party who would they be?As a musical instrument nerd, many of these folks might not be familiar to every reader. I’d like to hear what it was like to invent the Violin from Andreas Amati, what it was like to run a busy store in a city like Milan from the young maker Carlo Antonio Testore. Finally, the French inventor-instrument maker-broker Vouillaume seems like he would have been a hoot. I’d like to finish a bottle of wine with him.

6  what does success for Finlay & Gage look like?  I’d like the store to be successful, but more, I’d like for it to work to support a thriving musical community here.

7  what’s the most recent concert/show you’ve attended? I went to see South Orange royalty Mandy Gonzalez in beginning of the summer & she blew my mind. Soon after, I saw Clutch and Primus in Asbury park and they were incredible.

8  what’s your favorite place in the world?  That’s tough, but I would have to say my house. I love to be here with my family. Every time I get home I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.
 
9  what would you like to see more of in SOMA?  I’d like to see more bike lanes, rehearsal spaces & schools in SOMA.
We all like to ride our bikes & bike lanes would make this area a lot less dependent on cars.  Rehearsal spaces for musicians make for excellent art communities – just look at Williamsburg in the early days. And as popular as this area I gets, it would be a shame if we forgot to build enough schools for all the kids who are bound to come with the families moving here.

Cat Fisher’s Theater in the Park in SOMA

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Theater in the Park will be on August 12 in Founder’s Park on Valley St., in South Orange.  This fun event will have short plays on the main stage as well as all-day long events and vendors throughout the park.  Stay tuned for more details.  In the meantime here is a short Q & A with Cat Fisher, who is bringing it to life.

1  what gave you the idea to do the Founder’s Park theater event? I wanted to help bring attention to the park by hosting an event that was different from any other event in town, I have a very good friend who works closely with InterACT and so, with the help of Meara Franowicz, Theater in The Park was born.  It will be an all-day event with short plays happening on the main stage as well as interactive workshops for all ages – some going on during the whole event and some during scheduled times.  The schedule will be announced mid July.
2  were you always interested in theater? what character did you play in a school production? Other then playing the lead in Stone Soup in 2nd grade I have spent most of my time behind the scenes doing costuming for productions in high school and college.  My involvement with Theater in The Park is more administrative – I am leaving the creative to the more creative people.
3  what drew you to south orange? My (now) husband Andrew Kit; he was living here when we met and introduced me to the town.  He has a real passion for the community and helping to make it a great place to live.  I was a bit of a transient, moving around a lot with my previous job which lead me to Montclair, NJ.  From there I met Andrew and fell in love with him and this town.
4  If you could have three people at a dinner party who would they be? That depends if they have to be currently living. if not Ray Bradbury, Bill Murray and Tina Fey, If they have to be alive then replace Ray Bradbury with Tom Robbins.
5  what is the most recent Broadway show you have seen?  It was the limited run of Oh Hello! staring John Mulaney and Nick Kroll.
6  have you attended any shows at the Papermill, Burgdorff and/or Luna stage since coming here? if so, what production?
I have seen The Little Mermaid at the Paper Mill and I have been to a few events at the Burgdorff (mostly fundraisers.) I have actually never been to Luna Stage but will check it out now!  InterACT performs at the Baird; they just finished Sister Act and Once Upon a Mattress and will be announcing next year’s shows at their annual fundraiser as well as the Theater in the Park.
7  who’s your favorite band/singer? This is always a hard question, there are so many to choose from and I have always avoided narrowing it down to just one.  For the sake of keeping it easy I will say Jenny Lewis because I find her so fascinating and her music always puts me in a good mood, and that would include her old band Rilo Kiley.
8  what’s your favorite place in the world?  This is a really hard question but I have to say my parents house – it is the house I grew up in and it will always feel great to go home. They live in Royal Oak MI a Suburb outside Detroit.

 

 

Loving the scenery & greenery

If you need a Spring, Summer or Fall fix of gardens, lush landscaping and two beautiful homes, there are two spots in Essex County that are definitely worth a stroll or two.

Greenwood Garden in Short Hills, NJ  Greenwood Gardens link

Greenwood pergola autumn10 18 2012 (2) photo Ken Druse

 

and Van Vleck in Montclair, NJ  Van Vleck link

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