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The Rich Get Richer

Here's the fantasy. You're sitting around one day and somebody just offers you an insane amount of money for your house. Let's think big. A million dollars. No bigger. Two million. Shucks, it's just a fantasy, why not, say, $4 million? And as long as we're fantasizing, let's just say this mysterious offer comes straight out of the blue, and is completely private, so you don't even have to share $240,000 with some realtor.

Well, for you and me, this is the stuff of fantasy. But in real life, guess who it happens to? Not just any Joe Schmoe but the reputed richest man in Glen Ridge, wheeler-dealer and philanthropist Curt Schade.

Details of the story are a little fuzzy and the Schades didn't return our call, but the story's all around town. The amount he was offered, according to the who tells the story, is either $3.9 million or $4.2 million or somewhere in between. The mystery buyer is either a person who simply came up and knocked at the door, or an acquaintance from the city who'd previously been to the house. And, as Schade is reported to have been telling friends, it was simply an offer he couldn't refuse.

A trustee of the Montclair Art Museum known for his interest in restoring old houses, Schade originally bought the house at 78 Ridgewood Ave. for $885,000 in 1999. But the historic Tudor burned to the ground, as it was being renovated, on a windy day in 2001. The $4 million house -- about twice the price of any house every sold in Glen Ridge, as far as we known -- is brand new, sits on a 200 by 350 lot, and is taxed at $41,383.

So what do you get for $4 million, give or take a few pennies, in Glen Ridge these days? Well, we googled Curt Schade and came up, amazingly enough, with this well-written piece of journalism, by a certain familiar writer, about a kitchen tour in Glen Ridge.

During the tour, many of the decorators and contractors involved in the kitchens stood quietly by, with the modest and helpful bearing of 19th-century kitchen servants. Dave Leonard, co-owner of the Kennebec Company in Bath, Me., which designed and built Mrs. Schade's kitchen, had driven through icy rain in Rhode Island in order to attend. ''I felt like a mailman,'' he said wryly.

Mr. Leonard, dressed in elegant Maine country gentleman attire, was able to show off features of the Schade kitchen that the casual visitor might miss: the 700 Series Sub-Zero refrigerator, for example, which was hidden, along with a full-size freezer, behind the dark-stained cabinets. One pities a new baby-sitter thirsty for a Diet Coke. Or, as Mr. Leonard pointed out mischievously, ''It's not a good drinking man's kitchen.''

In several of the houses, the refrigerators and freezers were not only well hidden, but spread around the kitchen -- a drawer with cold soft drinks over here, a drawer with frozen pork chops somewhere across the room.

Evidence of children and pets was hidden as well. Mrs. Schade keeps her children's sports schedules and school lists taped to the insides of their individual lockers, in the mud room. ''We never had a refrigerator with magnets,'' she said.

There you go, mortgage holders of the world, if you want someone to walk into your house and offer you $4 million to leave, maybe you should start by ditching the magnets.

The Schades, who have four children, have been telling friends they want to stay in Glen Ridge. The house turns over in June. We've also heard that the Schades, who've been extremely gracious in opening their home for fundraisers and good causes, may be giving the public several more peeks before moving day.

March 31, 2006


I think their last house on Douglas Street is one of the coolest looking homes in Glen Ridge.

Posted by: DagNabit | Mar 31, 2006 10:33:55 AM

Hopefully it is not some developer looking to make another CrisCo!? It doesn't sound like the current owners would let that happen though.

Posted by: D | Mar 31, 2006 12:57:12 PM

I sure hope they aren't going to rip up this one. That would be a major travesty. I like the idea of someone just approaching your house and making an offer on the spot. $4,000,000 brings Glen Ridge into a whole new league. It means that GR has the highest sale over Montclair. And its right by my house.

I like.

Posted by: Steve | Mar 31, 2006 3:02:46 PM

What I find amazing is the under-assessment of this property. Lets start with the rate. If the rate being charged is .23 (Glen Ridge) and the current (almost current, 04 figure) assessment of 78 Ridgewood is at $290,000, the taxes as of 2004 were $37,004. Based on this figure 78 Ridgewood should sell for $1,449,999 right?

$290,000 divided by .23 = $1,260,869
times this by .15(%) (the assessor's fudge factor), this would add another $189,130, for a grand total of $1,449,999, right?


The property was purchased for $885,000 in 1999, and the assessment then was "get this" $82,300. After pouring in my estimation about a millon dollars into it (probably much, much, more) and that being only in the rough construction phase, the house burt to the ground in a freak accident.

Now the property was re-built new. Could any of you Barista's guess how much that cost?? I'm (again) guessing that that figure was close to two million (again, probably much, much, more).

Isn't a coincidence the property is being sold right before the revaluation.

Maybe the current owner can afford to pony up the extra $74,000 he's short and give the rest of us a well deserved tax break. Its bad enough we subsidize Newark, now we subsidize the "Richest Guy in Town"

Good riddance!


Posted by: face | Mar 31, 2006 9:47:33 PM

This house isn't an old house. It was only built a couple of years ago. If I remember correctly, the original house (a Tudor I think) was being restored totally - they had taken it all apart inside and had been working on it when it caught fire and burned. This is a brand new house built to fit in to the neighborhood. I'd be surprised if someone would tear it down.

Posted by: mauigirl52 | Mar 31, 2006 10:27:48 PM

This sounds like: "tear it down and build 10 townhomes" to me. The property is huge.

Posted by: babaloo | Apr 1, 2006 10:30:53 AM

There is a reason the word "private" is used here. Because it was a PRIVATE sale. Which means that it is none of anyone's business how, or who, or why, they sold their house. These are two very PRIVATE people who do a lot for the community and their friends and they do not deserve a mean spirited commentary like this!

This town is small enough without petty swipes at its citizens so I would suggest maybe writing something positive about them would be more constructive...

Posted by: Oh Please | Apr 1, 2006 12:56:40 PM

Congratulations Debbie Galant, you have officially hit your all time low. You absolutely disgust me. You said it yourself in this article that this was a private sale so it's quite obvious that the family was not trying to flaunt anything. So, since you know that this was a private sale, why would you go prying? Oh I know, you're a journalist, but that gives you NO right to pass judgement on a family that you do not even know. This was never all around town until you opened your uncouth mouth. You would go to any length to bash Glen Ridge, but honestly Debbie, you've gone too far with this.

My family and I happen to know this family personally, and they really didn't deserve your foul-mouthing. I suggest you don't go around bad-mouthing people you clearly know NOTHING about.

Anyone who praises this article is completely out of their mind. Debbie, I think you have a little bit of growing up to do.

Posted by: Honestly Debbie | Apr 1, 2006 1:17:48 PM

now,now ladies, hiss spit, keep the claws in. private my ass, no one spends money without a reason, and there is absolutely no house in glen ridge or even montclair worth in today's prices $4 mill. so, what's the value being purchased? one assumes the land for teardown and redevelopment. or, it's a tax dodge or a way to get money to the seller which looks legitimate on its face even if insane. focus on that last word, insane. it's insane to spend twice or more what it's worth without a reason. teardowns are risky, risky that you won't be able to accomplish it, and you've then just lost the excess you paid, etc. unless, of course, you intended to lose it in the first place, ie you owed it, or you for whatever reason were laundering it, etc. interesting. but "private"? sure, most shady dealings are intended by their participants to remain "private" - that doesn't mean they should be or will be. no doubt charles kushner intended his use of a hooker to blackmail his in law and potential witness against him in the ongoing federal probe "private" but so what? the u.s. attorney disagreed. if this story isn't total b.s., there's more here than meets the eye, one way or t' other. besides, this point re private, while well taken in the abstract, is again total b.s. re these people, in my view. i don't know them or of them, other than to observe that folks whose lives involve floating on the wave of success and involving themselves in charities and museums and who no doubt adroitly take full (and probably mostly legal) advantage of all the tax code allows and who have the public in their homes to benefit their community hardly can be said to be leading "private" lives. in short, follow the money, it's always the way to figure out what's going on in the shortest time - so why is buyer paying twice what the property's worth? to funnel value to the seller a la the bribing federal contractor who bought former congressman "Duke" Cunningham's Del Mar beach house for almost twice what it was worth?

thanks, ladies, today's tea time conversation has been so stimulating...

Posted by: miss manners | Apr 1, 2006 3:36:19 PM

A house is worth what someone is willing to pay. Hence, this house is worth 4 mil. $. This is not an insane amount...Take a look around at homes all over the tri-state area--many sell for much, much more.

As for "private", I hope the sellers and the buyers realize the petty gossip about real estate transactions are just plain interesting and exciting. No harm done.

It eventually becomes public knowledge whether Debbie reports it or not. It is public record. In any case, I do agree Debbie should leave names out.

Posted by: njholdem | Apr 1, 2006 10:14:27 PM

Since when? Every transaction is recorded and is PUBLIC domain. If the Barista didn't report on it the Star Ledger would have. Every Thursday, recent real estate transactions are published for ALL the world to see. As far as the seller(s) being PRIVATE people, I find that statement grossly inacurate.
Who do you think is behind the development of the old Matchless Metals site? "Oh Please", please take your head out of the sand and get ready with hand in pocket, your taxes are going up. The more we subsidize these larger homes by not making them pay their fair share, the more we will see PRIVATE sales such as this. Maybe you should do the math yourself, or challenge my findings.



Posted by: face | Apr 1, 2006 11:00:23 PM

I toured the original 22 rm Tudor owned by the Clays, when they had a house sale. I didn't understand why the school board didn't try to buy it, since it sold so cheaply, is on a huge lot and the property is large enough to support a school, field and parking.

I also think $37k is a low tax bill. Mine is more than half that amount for a house that has a kitchens and baths from the '60s. Remember maroon bathrooms?

Also all real estate transactions and property tax assessments are public information. If the house hasn't closed yet, it clearly isn't public domain.

Posted by: marymac | Apr 2, 2006 5:48:02 PM

A former boss once told me after i resigned for a better offer from a competitor, "it doesnt trade there".. I said oh, "yes it does, cause it just did!!" Same thing with the $4m Glen Ridge home..The value is what someone is willing to pay for something..

Posted by: nativeclairman | Apr 3, 2006 12:56:31 PM

Why is it that people appear to require anonymity when making snide comments? If you had the courage to comment directly to the owners I am sure they (and we) would have a modicum of respect for you.

Posted by: mike grimaldi | Apr 5, 2006 6:47:05 PM

Who is looking for respect?

I'm looking for the $70,000 they shorted the town on the property taxes.

Courage? Courage should mean the property owners stepping up and doing the "Right" thing.

Pay up!


Posted by: face | Apr 6, 2006 12:50:41 PM

I am an illegitimate child of "Miss. Manners" (that name makes me want to vomit)... that B abandoned me when I was a mere toddler. Before you JUDGE anyone Mother, I command you to look in the mirror and deal with your own demons!!! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!

Posted by: Lil' Miss Manners | Apr 7, 2006 10:47:37 PM

Does anyone know anything more about this topic? Curious if it was determined that this property was going to be torn down in favor of redevelopment. That'd be a shame. Such a pretty house.

Posted by: wondering | Apr 24, 2006 2:36:45 PM