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...keeping up with the Joneses

Img_0283 In the sales world of the Crisco mansions, it's all about what's inside. Once you get past the location, the arms length distance from your neighbors, and the general lack of breathing space, and get indoors, you can actually kid yourself into believing that you have a great Montclair house, until you walk past a window that is. Inside Crisco has it all -- and then some (of course, disclaimer signs explaining that the extras in the model are to enhance your imagination serve as the major reality check). Crisco has plenty of window dressing -- literally -- to make up for the fact that the views from the home are often the side of your neighbor's house (and objects are even closer than they appear). Yes, there a loads of whistles and bells, (granite abounds, closet space galore and gracious "loggias" - not Robert, but the hallway kind). Yet what becomes evident as you tour the home is that the 3rd floor -- which can be reached by the optional "elevator" -- is superfluous. With four bedrooms, lots Viewfrombathroomwindowof living space, and an outfitted basement with gym and gaming room, the builders could have lopped off the third floor (and ideally built half as many houses) and the Crisco mansions would have blended in a heck of a lot better than the tight-fisted, sore thumbs they are now. The model, #4, open for viewing was on the Watchung Ave side, and from the floorplans, it will have an 18 X 10 patio space parallel to Watchung and an 8 x 10 against the shared drive. A rendering of the development seens to show houses #7 and #9 being somewhat more prime in terms of green space buffers, but we all know how reliable renderings are. Christopher Court literature states estimated annual taxes of $23,000 - $25,000 (based on 2005 Property Taxes). Priced from "$1,625,990 to $1,825,990". Click to the jump for a full tour...

Humongous kitchen -- sure to make up for outdoor entertaining space
Tub for two with a view of Watchung Avenue
Chalkboard "graffiti" wall in boy's room; resisted urge to scrawl "Crisco was here"
View from kitchen table to family room
Master with fireplace and seating area for TV viewing
Basement had space for a gym, poker table, and bar

May 7, 2006


Sopranos meets Starbucks.

All the floors seem to slope to the right. Odd.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 8, 2006 9:18:12 AM

This development is like a bunch of townhouses on steroids - gives a new lease on life to the slogan, "reach out and touch someone" - that is if you want to hold hands with your neighbour while you soak in your jacuzzi tub. Sure the finishes are nice, but mostly optional, and anyway, for $1.7 million smackeroos, I expect a backyard.

Anyone know what they expect for the humongous house going up on Ridgewood? IF I had the $$ and the inclination and a fondness for new construction, I expect I'd be more inclined to look at that.

Posted by: SpecialK | May 8, 2006 9:38:24 AM

Manhattanites will love "Crisco" ... if it's what inside that counts, Manhattan is all about dwelling interiors ... for the townhouse feel in this price range, I'd prefer Kips Ridge that straddles the Montclair/Verona border with more wooded lots and some "units" having a skyline view.


Posted by: Jim | May 8, 2006 10:26:25 AM

FUGLY. Looks like a bad movie set.

Posted by: Crisco McMansion | May 8, 2006 11:03:18 AM

I think those tax estimates are WAY off. Assuming the new tax rate will be around 1/2 of the 5.09 we currectly pay for $100 of assessed value. I think the taxes will be closer to $40k for a $1.6 million home.

Posted by: stay at home | May 8, 2006 11:59:31 AM

But wouldn't that depend on whether they will actually get anywhere close to the asking price?

Posted by: latebloomer | May 8, 2006 12:11:16 PM

Manhattanites will love "Crisco"

Jim, in my opinion as fairly recently ex-Brooklyn Heights, you are 100% correct. City folk who are looking at $4 mm townhouses in need of renovation and without side windows or parking will look at Crisco and be tempted to dive in. 5,000 square feet of high-end *surface* treatments with parking for two cars for less than half the price of what they're facing in NYC can be a pretty compelling argument.

And it's not just the upscale NYC townhouse shoppers: that the Crisco neighbors are 10 feet to the left and right of you matters little when you're currently stuffed into a 3br $1.2 mm apartment with neighbors physically above and below you, and your kids need $44K - $60K per year private school.

Posted by: appletony | May 8, 2006 1:09:47 PM


Looks like the "classy" home that Christopher and his new wife bought last night, right down to the atrocious design, postage stamp lawn and spindly landscaping.

Who says art doesn't imitate life?

Posted by: Ghost of Adrianna | May 8, 2006 3:01:27 PM


As a recently ex-Manhattanite, looking at 2-BRs in the $1.5 MM range before I settled on Baristaville, I can only say that the prospect of moving to the 'burbs only to live in a place like Crisco makes me shudder. One of the major reasons for moving here was to put a little distance between me and my neighbours, and being 10 feet away just doesn't cut it. It was also great to pay half the price of a dwelling in the city, to have space, not to be "house poor" and to have the ability to pay for private school for my kids if I so desire.

Posted by: SpecialK | May 8, 2006 3:35:34 PM

There are lots of nice properties on the market for $1MM to $1.5MM...spend $200 - $500K more to add the mega-kitchen-family room and master suite if that's your thing...and you have a real house in a real neighborhood with a real yard. If you want a big house, you needn't look far in Montclair.

I know it takes more work and imagination, but...there are plenty of builders who'll make it happen for you.

Posted by: Backsore | May 8, 2006 4:32:48 PM

Lack of design and poor craftsmanship abounds. Was there an architect attached to this project? These look like and are detailed like a bad builders special. Whoever had no sense of design, proportion or scale. The details are cheap and either too big or too small. There are 'extra' braces in the attic that look like these homes were not engineered. Probably added by a builder or the inspector. A Home Cheapo Special. Not even Expo.

The plastic floors look like crap, that is until you see them next to the steps where they must have had to use real wood, then they look like whatever is worse than crap.

Plastic abounds. The doors are plastic, the "wrought iron" light fixtures are plastic, that is where they didn't choose florescent. Even the fireplaces are plastic.

The space is terribly planned, plenty of wasted space, lots of useless nooks and a dining room that may be formal, but isn't going sit event the smallest of extended families.

The spray-crete detailing is already broken on the exterior, the roof isn't insulated and there are open floor spaces in the service attic. The gaps in the vinyl siding and the gaps in the exterior plywood only exacerbate the effect of the missing insulation.

I liked the crown molding that had to be mitered around the heat ducts where they clearly put the duct work in the wrong place.

Feng Shui? Bah! What's better, the large flat screen TV that HAS to hang over the fireplace, the first thing you see when you come in the front door or the electrical/cable outlets if you don't put you plasma in that exact spot.

I wonder which will come first; a kid impaled on the railing that he/she easily crashes through on the front porch or the kid stepping from the attic into the third floor?

My guess is they get their price, but these prices don't appreciate the way we've come to like Montclair prices appreciating. These owners will be looking to move in a couple of years.

But if large families buy these homes, does the Board of Ed have a plan for the two additional classrooms they will need this Fall? 10 homes, each could house parents, a grandmother and 5-6 kids. Ooops, that's 3 classrooms.

I plan on going back, often. I plan on bringing my friends. And mocking the places unmercifully.

Posted by: kevin Lee Allen | May 8, 2006 6:19:36 PM

BTW, if you go, bring chalk, There is a chalk board wall in the 'boys' bedroom. On Sunday the chalk was on a shelf, but I imagine they've learned that lesson.

Posted by: kevin Lee Allen | May 8, 2006 6:21:55 PM

No doubt that NYC people will find these homes attractive, in terms of interior "grandeur" and the minimal amount of outside maintenance required. The lawn could be maintained with scissors.

When they said "wooded views", did they mean plywood? No worries, it will soon be replaced by a vinyl siding view.

There's a sucker born every minute.

Posted by: DS | May 9, 2006 8:33:03 AM

"I plan on going back, often. I plan on bringing my friends. And mocking the places unmercifully."

Kevin, there's a lot more to life!

Posted by: right of Center™ | May 9, 2006 9:25:51 AM

JEALOUSY will get you nowhere. I just purchased a home in "crisco" and can't wait to move in. The sales staff was exceptional. The homes are superb. It's sad to hear that some of my new neighbors are so bitter about something they know so little about. Dont you people have better things to do???

Posted by: superdad | May 9, 2006 10:51:33 AM


Does the developer include email service?

I am curious why your email link is to: gpaoli@americanproperties.net ?

Odd. That.

Posted by: right of Center™ | May 9, 2006 11:13:09 AM

Hmm. "Superdad"'s email address is "americanproperties.net." Isn't that the company that is building the McStronsities?

Better cover your tracks better next time!!

Posted by: latebloomer | May 9, 2006 11:13:50 AM

Ya beat me to it, ROC!

Posted by: latebloomer | May 9, 2006 11:15:09 AM

The really odd thing is that American Properties gave "superdad" an interesting email address. They have a Greg Paoli, (job supervisor for American Properties Realty Inc) on their staff, so, naturally one would think the address "gpaoli" would have already been taken.


Of course, we should also remember with such animus towards the developer someone may be simply be "posing" as someone else.

Posted by: right of Center™ | May 9, 2006 11:19:13 AM

Stranger still if one were to infer (baselessly) that someone stupid enough to build these monstrosities on top of each other would be stupid enough to make a fake post as an "owner" of Crisco and use his actual e-mail address.

But that's probably my JEALOUSY running away with me. If I could afford it, I would - of course - be running to buy.

Posted by: eleVate | May 9, 2006 11:35:55 AM

You're all jealous, right? I can't see how anyone could attack these beautiful homes when there's that stupid eyesore of a scarecrow across the street. Tired of the whining already...

Posted by: Johnny | May 9, 2006 2:41:56 PM

Totally agree with Johnny!! I'd hate to be in one of those beautiful homes (which I think certainly raised all our property values) only to open up the window and have that nasty scarecrow staring right at me. They should bulldoze that thing and leave these nice homes alone!!!!

Posted by: Wilbur | May 9, 2006 2:52:29 PM

Truth be told, I was highly impressed with Christopher Court. Although I do understand your complaints about lot sizes and close proximity to one another, the interiors of the homes and finishes were exceptional.

I think many of you posters are mistaken about what is an "additional feature". The disclaimer posted in the model is only furnishings, painting/wallpaper, etc. All of the moldings, etc. come included with the house (I asked).

These homes may not be for me (or any of you), but they surely are for someone, and, at $1.7 million, I can't complain on how it's going to raise the value of my own home.

Posted by: Lovin'Life | May 9, 2006 2:55:01 PM

Superdad, when I visited late Sunday afternoon, there was one orange flag on the site plan map in the sales garage and otherwise green flags on all the other plots. I assume the green means they were available for purchase.

Which house did you buy? If I stop by this coming weekend, will I see a red flag on the board?

Posted by: Paul from OB | May 9, 2006 9:50:49 PM

Personally, I think they look quite nice. They are expensive, certainly more than I could afford and they offer no land - but that's Montclair for you, there isn't much land left, yet people who want to live here should be willing to sacrifice land in order to have access to everything else this town has to offer (just like NY'ers do for NYC - and no, i'm not comparing Montclair to NYC).

Given that you will have to sacrifice land - the homes themselves are quite beautiful.

Posted by: Stan | May 11, 2006 1:18:34 AM


Wilbur - geatalife@aol.com

Johnny - gimmie@break.com

All 3 are planted responses....along the line of superdad. so close in time of posts as well. C'mon american properties, let your sardines-like mansions sell themselves.

Funny comment about the scarecrow though, wouldnt mind that blowing away in the wind.

Stanlan@hotmal.com is a very good possibility too. If I had access to barista I could check their IP's.

Posted by: realhawker | May 11, 2006 2:42:48 PM

I couldnt give a rat's ass what they sell for or who goes in them. They don't look bad and I leave a couple of blocks away in an old victorian that needs their lofty price tag to help boost my value, when I have to sell after the assessor has been snooping at my place and declares a tax hike coz I put right what the last owner neglected.
The American Properties guys showed the value of blogs though, ouch! on getting caught though.

Posted by: Alf | May 11, 2006 6:24:14 PM

My favorite part still is the styrofoam tudoresque half-timbering.

Half-timbering to outlast an eternity.

Talk about long-term value!

Posted by: Jonathan Perlstein | May 11, 2006 9:19:46 PM

Lovin'Life = jrm57...

google cross-checking "american properties" w/ "jrm: returns a number of common sites, including a JRM real estate management company.

ya think anyone there is, say, 48 or 49 years old?

[techsavy mini-druges please apply

Posted by: Je couPe | May 14, 2006 12:15:03 AM

hey alf,

are you now selling rat's pitouties?

they should have called the development LACKLAND COURT

Posted by: pissant | May 14, 2006 6:14:31 PM

i think that everyone who visits this site regulary and check up on this development needs a life. especially the creater. You people are being cruel and inconiderate to the builders. These homes happen to be beautiful and i personally don't think you have the need to say bad things about the homes. If people like them, they like them, if they don't they don't. The builders are just doing their job and you don't have to intertwine. I don't think they care what you think and everything you people are saying isn't going to make a difference. They started building, get over it.

Posted by: susan | May 28, 2006 5:17:01 PM

For that kind of money, personally, I rather have a detached home, so that when there's a fire, mine doesn't go down as well. I'd rather (for the $795,000) buy a home in Livingston or Millburn or Montville.

Posted by: Sanford | May 30, 2006 8:48:09 PM

so sad. it isn't about how nice the homes are... it is just amazing how greed can blind you. an opportunity lost to a developer's unquenchable thirst for money (as if he doesn't have enough already). No conscience, no cares ( 4 or 6 home would have worked - no he had to squeeze in 10) - just how much can he cash in for. and now montclair can look just like staten island. I wonder how he would feel if these were built next to his home with bobbi brown on erwin park.
but then again that house is a little squished... hey wait, maybe he is from staten island...?!

Posted by: debbie | Jun 7, 2006 12:49:43 AM

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