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November  19

Anybody Got A Shoehorn?

Squeeze some space, and we'll build you a house, fully loaded. At the corner of Midland and Walnut Avenues in Montclair, the home on the left, facing Midland Ave., should be available in January. The home-to-be on the right, located on Walnut, will look like this. Meanwhile, if you're wondering whether homes are still getting $100 grand over asking, the most recent home sales in Baristaville are updated here. And if you're nervous about your Baristaville investment, there's always bubble insurance...

November 19, 2005 in Seen around town | Permalink


Had a fun night in Montclair Friday night...went to Leone's for pizza, Rascals for a drink before the movie and then dessert at Gimme Cookies...luv the whole Church St thing going on...Oh, yeah, this should have been posted on the 'Daily Thread' but where is it?

Posted by: The Iceman | Nov 19, 2005 10:36:41 AM

does the house on the left face Midland? If so, I've passed that house, and the picture shows a new addition onto an older structure, seems to double the size of a large Victorian. The addition is somewhat tasteful, although the pyramidal copper roof is an odd choice.

Again assuming I am thinking of the right corner, the house on the right seems like it will occupy what had been the backyard of the house on the left?

6 bedrooms, let's say, conservatively, 4 kids (even though there is an office and a study, which could also be bedrooms). House will probably pay $20K/year in property taxes. $13K of that will go tot he school system, 4 kids at $16K/kid/year (do the math, this is what it really costs the taxpayers of Montclair to educate a student) that is an annual loss of $51K for this new house, assuming the towns does not have to pick up individual leaves and not increase taxes, and assuming that there is enough leftover to cover municipal and county services.

How long can this continue? Which one of these homes will break the bank?

Posted by: kevin Lee Allen | Nov 19, 2005 12:04:08 PM

Yep, thats the one. And yes, the second massive luxury home is being built in the backyard of the original, but expanded home. How is this zoning possible? Again, no yards for either house. I live in a nice size house and I am on a small lot and I am close to my neighbors, but I still have a yard. Who is it that wants to spend over 800k and not get a yard?

Posted by: Cheaplazymom | Nov 19, 2005 12:36:11 PM

I guess someone who doesn't like to do yardwork but then why not buy a condo where all that is done for you? I agree, Cheaplazymom, it makes no sense. I would rather have a more land than house but that's me.

Posted by: Miss Martta | Nov 19, 2005 1:18:36 PM

If you go to the link about the house being built on the right, it says it is a "Victorian" house being built to blend in with the neighborhood of older homes. From the picture and the bulk and lot coverage, it won't be blending very well. I question why anyone needs 6 bedrooms in this day and age. Even if you did have 4 kids, 5 bedrooms would be plenty. And is that the average # of kids these days? I'd be willing to bet it's only 2-3 kids at most. It's conspicuous consumption, is all it is. If you want a house like that, buy a bigger house somewhere else, don't squeeze it into a neighborhood of smaller homes. It is out of place.

Posted by: mauigirl52 | Nov 19, 2005 1:27:42 PM

I clicked on "bubble insurance" only to find that my mind still glazes over when they start talking puts & calls. But on that page was a link that eventually led to this - [a href="http://www.slate.com/id/2105036"]The Complete Guide to Wall Street Self-Defense by Henry Blodget[/a] - which I think is pretty good reading for anyone who's in the stock market.

Posted by: crank | Nov 19, 2005 1:37:51 PM

Sorry, messed up the hot link above, let's try that again --

The Complete Guide to Wall Street Self-Defense by Henry Blodget

Posted by: crank | Nov 19, 2005 1:40:32 PM

The taxes on the first one are listed at $12K-- that has to be the cost for the old, dilapidated house, not the total renovation. Thought the lot WILL be considerably smaller.

Seems to be the trend in Montclair these days-- squeeze as much McMansion as you possibly can into the smallest possible space.

No yard, and cost to the town in terms of services be damned.

Oh, and does anyone else think the 2-car garage look truly weird attached to the Victorian?

Posted by: latebloomer | Nov 19, 2005 1:50:25 PM

"Though" not "Thought"

Posted by: latebloomer | Nov 19, 2005 1:51:08 PM

Latebloomer: I question calling that structure a Victorian at all.

When I think of Victorians, I think of the "painted ladies" in Cape May, not some Home Depot-esque modern version like the one in the photo.

Posted by: Miss Martta | Nov 19, 2005 1:54:20 PM

Well, if you've seen the front, which I do everyday, living around the corner--it still retains its original Victorian look.

But the 2-car garage on the side looks totally out of place.

Posted by: latebloomer | Nov 19, 2005 2:01:36 PM

"Victorians" are not just the Cape May painted ladies. You can find a bit of info here:


Frankly, the buzzwords used in the description were "quaint." So that they want to call the style "victorian" isn't so shocking (even if it's not).

But really, who wouldn't wan to live in a quaint Montclair Victorian near other victorians within walking distance of the Montclair Art Museum.

Posted by: Profchriss | Nov 19, 2005 2:13:52 PM

Is the porta potty considered a "full" or "half" bath?


Posted by: cary | Nov 19, 2005 2:43:15 PM

This aesthetic is one thing -- gruesome, to be sure -- but the arithmatic is altogether another thing. I blame the current mayor and council and their appointed zoming board for allowing the continued rape of this community.

Not only do these spectacular piles of crap getting deposited all over town look truly awful, but their cost the rest of us amounts to a recurring penalty year after year.

The defense of the individual developer in every single case I can imagine is rather a sturdy campaign platform plank we all need to remember on election day.

If you need a reminder, think massive and ugly, and then look at the mayor. Or, recall the tree harvest of 2005 and remember, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Posted by: viveverite | Nov 19, 2005 3:36:30 PM

"allowing the continued rape of this community."...really viveverite, isn't that a bit over the top...comparing the violent act of rape with your disagreement with the zoning board?

Posted by: The Iceman | Nov 19, 2005 4:32:37 PM

let me add my voice to the chorus decrying the mcmansion infestation. I guess good taste, smart planning, a sense of shame and consideration for the rest of the street don't matter when you can jam an huge house into a space better suited for something smaller. do we even have a zoning board? do any readers sit on the zoning board who can give us some insight into the thinking behind the lack of basic building rules here? people can build what they like, as long as they build it on a lot consistent with a structure that size.

Posted by: fran | Nov 19, 2005 4:36:02 PM


I appreciate your point and apologize if this seems insensitive; I don't mean to provoke any suffering with my opinions. But, I also don't buy the suggestion that inflamatory rhetoric denigrates sexual rape victims.

Victims of sexual rape get my utmost sympathies, and a fair bit of my emotional energy, actually.

Perhaps it is for that reason that I observe that, if doing physical violence that leaves a lasting scar is metaphorically similar to anything else I have seen, it is rape.

And, when powerful people stand by and declare they are helpless to prevent it, excuse the right of others to perform it, and dishonor the general welfare by asserting the authority of the perpetrator to perpetuate it, I am reminded of rape, and rape, and rape again.

A measure of the health of a society is in how it manages challenge and change. Letting developers do whatever they want is a policy decision, not an accident of zoning.

Posted by: viveverite | Nov 19, 2005 5:53:01 PM

Oh c'mon
a few homes are being replaced with 6 bedroom McMansions and posters here are soooo up in arms. For goodness sake, get a life. There are bigger problems in this world.

Posted by: grme | Nov 19, 2005 7:34:06 PM

Frankly it is a grim but good economic strategy to get more mcmansion style homes. The larger homes are bought by wealthier people. Wealthier people generally have smaller families and send their children to private schools. The taxes they pay are higher and more like a commercial ratable than your average home. It is the smaller cheaper houses that often are homes to multiple children. Many of the poorer children require special needs in the public schools. Most of those poor kids are not going to MKA but the mcmansion kids are. That is why it is a good strategy of the town to encourage higher priced homes if they cannot get commercial ratables in the first place. It is as simple as that.

Posted by: Sebastian | Nov 19, 2005 9:03:20 PM

Rube Goldberg strikes again!

Posted by: Chris | Nov 19, 2005 9:25:03 PM

Sobastard's social commentary, as usual, is utterly devoid of fact. But what would you expect from the mayor's Pekingese? Brains? Naw, his ignorant little tongue is hanging out -- pant, pant, pant -- so eager for a pat on the head and one more treat.

The demographic responsible for the largest families is workers in the financial services industry who, 'tho they could afford private schools, as a point of pride, prefer to send them to the public schools, where they can play lacrosse, hockey and field hockey, do the fed challenge, and gain admittance to top tier colleges at no incremental cost.

This swollen development is a dreadful strategy that dilutes the distinction that makes Montclair not-Bloomfield, not-Nutley, and not-Paterson. All have older housing stock, and a boat-load of condo and vinyl-sided modern construction, and there is a reason why the discerning do not choose to occupy these.

Meanwhile, the rest of us watch our home values drop as the town becomes a ragout of nouveaux riches designing southforks that will tax us incrementally for years to come. Thanks, Mr. Mayor, for imposing your bloated self-image on our town -- what a glorious legacy -- you must be so proud.

MKA draws heavily from communities other than Montclair -- get a copy of the parent directory if you doubt it -- likewise Immaculate, Lacordaire and St Cassian's. What massive ignorance of the fatcs!

These overstuffed residences, by the way, will catch their neighbors on fire in a heartbeat if they ever fall victim to the flames, along with the toxic fumes of burning vinyl. Way to go, Mr. Mayor -- that's two-fer. Maybe you can shrink the government a little more and drown our adequate fire department in a bathtub.

These houses doubtless will pump out veritable stacks and oozes of trash, as can only be expected by occupants who know no better than to purchase cheap imitations of quality construction.

It's as simple as that.

Posted by: jeannie | Nov 19, 2005 9:37:11 PM

OK, the house on the left is fairly hideous, not my taste, but I've seen much worse. It's tough to tell from the blueprints whether the house on the right is cool or is just a mess, but if someone wants to drop on bundle on 'em instead of buying a turn of the century fixer-upper, well, good for them. Let's face it, whoever buys these homes still has the good sense to live in Montclair, if they had NO taste, they'd move to...well...fill-in-the-blank, NJ.

Two thoughts...

1) I live in in a 100+ year old victorian house that is literally 15 feet from my neighbor's 100 year old victorian house...you keep the bedroom curtains closed and its not that big a deal -- so running houses up against the property line is nothing new.

2) A lot of people in montclair hate the idea of anything coming down, regardless of what was there before. Why is that? Is it simply a matter of aesthetics? There are a lot of 1950s-era homes in Montclair...raised ranches,aluminum clad split-levels, etc...that are just as, or even more "aesthetically challenged" as these new constructions. Most of these new homes are not being built on top of Fallingwater, and in most cases they're an improvement over what was there before. That part of Midland is the beginning of the Bloomfield Ave commercial district -- you're going to lose your mind over this?

If this wasn't a private residence but instead a four story, cinder block tower for homeless, agoraphobic, transgendered dogs, cats, and ferrets, I'm sure we'd be having a parade about it tomorrow.

Montclair's a wonderful place to live for a lot of reasons, including its historic architecture, but lets take a deep breath and get over it.

Posted by: JK | Nov 19, 2005 9:54:31 PM

as if past errors are some sort of template for future practice.

before we knew the carcinogenic effects, we used to paint the hands of clocks with radium here in montclair. before smog and air pollution became recognized health hazards, we used to let people burn trash in their yards. before recognizing its contribution to an asthma epidemic, we used to burn aluminum cans here -- oh, yeah, Essex County still does.

if some 100-year-old houses are side by side, or egregious development took place in the past, must we perpetuate these things now if we know better?

we know residential density is expensive and degrading of quality of life. so, let's stop it. just like treating acne with xrays. like cigarettes for nervous disorders. like lobotomies for homosexuality.

if not, at this rate, what with the new plofker height waivers and parking lots in people's back yards, Montclair will be a fullfledged city before too long.

Posted by: ginger | Nov 20, 2005 12:04:44 AM


How wonderful it must be to be so wise and righteous. The Council has implemented some changes that will limit the size of houses and additional changes are expected as a result of the Master Plan that is driven by the Planning Board and not the Council although we asked them to start 6 months earlier than required so we could look at a variety of land use issues. Unless and until these changes are made, people build what the Planning and Zoning Boards approve within the land use laws on the books; folks think that whatever they oppoose as far as development can be stopped by snapping our fingers; it doesn't work like that but it sure makes you feel good to be able to pour your sarcasm all over these posts. The Council is not encouraghing this kind of development and but builders are creating what the current system allows and we are changing it. By the way, you do realize that whomever won the last election would be facing the same challenges, right? Or do you think that the "preservation ticket" would have "instructed" the Zoning and Planning Boards how to rule on all applications? Doesn't work that way. And stop the stereotyping. It's very convenient and satisfying I'm sure, but inaccurate.

Posted by: Ed Remsen | Nov 20, 2005 2:06:37 AM

Mr. Mayor,
Perhaps the "preservation ticket" could have declared historic districts in the town. If this current council were not anti preservation, we would not be faced with the issues discussed on this thread. The Marlboro Inn would still be standing, and there would be design oversight for new construction. Historic Designation is a level of protection against bad zoning and planning laws.

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