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Old 10-09-2014, 05:09 AM
 
164 posts, read 265,104 times
Reputation: 37

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lovened View Post
I am so excited to finally find a forum about Westmont Station. My husband and I have been living at the Avalon for the last 2.5 years and really started to love the small town. We honestly had zero intention to purchase a home but once we saw the townhomes going up we decided to go take a look... we ended up putting an offer the next day. We decided to go with the Manchester style and have been visiting the site almost everyday (since we live across the street its become a habit). Like many of you, I also work in the city and this was a major factor in purchasing. The 163 bus is already very easy, but now the train will just make my life so much better since I detest walking through Port Authority.

I have done a ton of research on the area, hired attorneys to check everything, had my father come inspect the house (he's a general contractor) and everyone keeps coming to the same conclusion that this is a great buy. Even if we decide to leave in 7 years, the townhouse will be a great income property. It is hard for these houses to lose value when you are 25min outside the city.

I am intrigued about the contamination comments, I am looking this up right now. I am confident that the property owners have done their due diligence since Avalon and Pulte are massive companies that have the finances to do testing. But you never know... so I will let you know what I find out.

Lastly, I have asked a lot of people around town about the schools. I keep hearing that they are building new schools around this complex and that there is a very good 10 year plan to whip these into shape. I hope thats true, but since I do not have children yet we have a bit of time to get concerned.
Haha, I had the same feeling! I'm a big City-Data fan. I PDF forum threads all the time in my research on where to live/invest in NJ and NY.

Commuting

Lovend, in terms of commuting to NYC Midtown East, it sounds like you've had 2.5 years of experience commuting to midtown NYC, what are your thoughts on the following? Specifically on traffic driving to the Wood-Ridge train station during rush hour and the NJT lot parking situation there.

1) Prior to the Wesmont Train Station being built, drive/park at the Wood-Ridge train station stop, take the NJT to Hoboken, take the PATH to Herald Square, take the NQR to Midtown East.
2) After the Wesmont Train Station is complete, just walk to the Wesmont train station stop, take the NJT to Hoboken, take the PATH to Herald Square, take the NQR to Midtown East.

I also detest taking NJT buses to Port Authority due to the abysmal ~80% on-time statistic along with the fact that it is "beset by delays, drips, decrepitude" (Port Authority Bus Terminal, beset by delays and decrepitude, set for $260M overhaul - News - NorthJersey.com).

We were thinking about transferring at Secaucus to a NYP-bound train, but the Amtrak Gateway tunnels are also in really bad shape, as evidenced by the on-time statistic of NYP train lines like the Northeast Corridor. (Amtrak tunnel closures loom for badly needed repairs on aging Hudson River crossings - News - NorthJersey.com)

On the other hand, Hoboken-bound NJT trains have very good on-time statistics, and the PATH train is very reliable. Hoboken is itself thinking about doing a major "Transit - Oriented Development Plan" with NJT and LCOR involved, and the PATH trains have all been recently replaced.

Contamination

In terms of the contamination, I've been digging through my archive of all the various online articles on Wesmont I've saved over the past year or so. Here's what I found:

WSJ: "It took some work preparing the factory site for development. Somerset said it spent between $10 million and $12 million on work that included removing trace amounts of petroleum asbestos from the soil."

Wesmont Riveter, 2nd Edition: "Environmental Remediation work continues to move forward. Roux Associates, well-respected environmental engineers have performed the rigorous and detailed analysis of the soil." This one goes on and on. Go to the W-R town website and read the rest yourself.

NYT: In Wood-Ridge, with a coordinated public-private effort, and the investment of around $16 million by Somerset Development, remediation and site-preparation work has moved ahead steadily after the extent of the contamination from petroleum and chemicals leaked into soil and groundwater became known.

Schools

I have two young kids (and hopefully more to come!), so I've done a ton of research into this subject. Wood-Ridge bought an old Catholic School and extensively renovated and remodeled it as the Intermediate School (4-6), which is good. The recent bond referendum passed, which is good. And the Pre-School program at the Doyle school launched recently, which is also good. I'm hopeful that these initiatives, along with the influx of families from the Wesmont development will help lift the test scores of W-R schools.
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Old 10-09-2014, 05:26 AM
 
164 posts, read 265,104 times
Reputation: 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sasha336 View Post
so how long does it take from avalon to PA by bus? estimated launch of the new train station is somewhere in the fall 2015 so if i move in to our new home (also Manchester) in April next year, i will be taking a bus or train to Penn from woodridge train station.

Did anyone deal with radon testing before? I am ignorant on this hazard but Pulte has specifically mentioned it in the contract to tell that the owner will have to deal with this (they will only provide 500 dollars towards the equipment to reduce radon). my attorney attempted to change that in the contract and failed so I'm doing research on whether i am ready to take a risk.
Sasha336, How do you plan to get to the Wood-Ridge train station? Are you going to just drive and park? Too bad there's no rush hour shuttle program at Wesmont organized by either the W-R town or Somerset Development until the Wesmont train station is complete I've seen this in towns like Secaucus (NJT station), Harrison (PATH station), and Jersey City (PATH station).

My in-laws had to deal with radon testing in their single-family home basement out in Mercer county. I don't know too much about it, but the relocation company did what they needed to do to reduce the radon readings. Didn't seem like a big deal. I'm not particularly concerned because our Pulte townhome doesn't have a below-ground basement, and the living areas are all on the 3rd floor anyway
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Old 10-09-2014, 12:41 PM
 
18 posts, read 21,238 times
Reputation: 18
Here's the straight poop on Wood-ridge and Wesmont.

My wife and I have lived in town for about 4 years after moving from Rutherford. I commuted into Penn station for the first 2 and had no problem walking to the existing train station (south side of route 17). We own a SFH on the opposite side of town. It takes about 15 minutes to walk it. In the morning it's a scenic stroll and in the afternoon it's a nice workout because you're going uphill. There's plenty of pay parking at that train station if you're a lazybones.

You'll find WR to be a quiet, safe town that feels much more suburban than most others that are this close to NYC. It's a realistic 50 minute commute to midtown by train. I know njtransit lists "30 minutes" on their site and that's what your realtor is going to tell you. Take it from a commuter. It's 50 minutes. and btw, 50 realistic minutes is NOTHING. I used to take the midtown direct from Morris Plains into Penn to my same office. 75 minutes on njtransit = 2.5 hours door to door.

Sure the buses are a little faster. But they aren't cheaper. And the bus is too proletariat anyway.

We're in the process of moving out but our experience in town has been great. There's a small, walkable downtown with the basics. If they'd invest in some new sidewalks and storefronts i think it'd get more love.

I can't explain why the schools rank so poorly. Our child isn't school-aged yet so we have no experience with them. I would say that they certainly are safe and the parents are definitely involved. I think the standardized test rankings that are available online do a superficially poor job of indicating the socio-economic status of the town.

That being said, they should fire the superintendent because even though our taxes are fairly low for Bergen county, there's really no excuse why scores should be Phillipsburg-low for what is essentially a middle-class Northern New Jersey town. I don't know what their 5-10 year plan is to improve the schools. They just did some kind of special vote to get more of our money to put new roofs on or something like that.


Personally, I don't understand the allure of the Wesmont complex. I know everybody wants to walk to the train station and head into the City but that train is going to run by your complex all day and most of the night and that gets noisy. We're uphill so we don't hear anything but you'll be right on top of it.

The other thing is that you're right across the tracks from the Wood-Ridge industrial park and those rooftops and the industrial areas of Wallington are going to be your view. You're on the Lodi-facing side of town too and Lodi is a dump.

Due to the topography of Wood-Ridge, you'd be walking your kids in their strollers up a steep hill to get to the downtown, so it isn't really any kind of benefit or convenience. As a matter of fact, I don't even think there's a walking path of any kind. The streets on our side of town stop at a dead-end before you can get to the new development. That keeps my part of the town quiet and yours isolated.
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Old 10-09-2014, 07:27 PM
 
15 posts, read 22,761 times
Reputation: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sasha336 View Post
by the way, someone had mentioned the environmental issues with the former plant, did anyone do a thorough research on the risks or checked if that has been properly addressed? I'm of worried that if any issue with contamination surface in the future, we will all be stuck with the properties we can't sell or live in
We backed out of purchasing a townhome at this development exactly because we thoroughly researched the environmental issues. I highly suggest you get yourself a copy of the Public Offering Statement and pay attention to the description of the reason why the NJ DEP gave Somerset a letter of No Further Action.
For many people, the current environmental situation is satisfactory, but we did not feel comfortable with the thought of living there especially with our new baby.
If you have any questions, feel free to send me a direct message.
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Old 10-10-2014, 06:43 AM
 
19 posts, read 174,581 times
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Thanks for the reviews guys. Please keep it coming. We have still not bought a place here as the plot we are interested in, is still not up for sale.

For all (ChinoJedi, Sasha336, Lovened) who have booked plot/houses here, have few questions

1) Did you negotiated from your side to bring down the actual/base price they are selling these plots/houses for?
2) How much extra would need to be paid, if you need to close this deal. We are thinking of going ahead with pulte mortgage and were just wondering how much in total would it cost?
3) Is there any hidden cost/terms that we should be watching out for?

Harpreet
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Old 10-10-2014, 01:51 PM
 
24 posts, read 64,800 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunamre View Post
We backed out of purchasing a townhome at this development exactly because we thoroughly researched the environmental issues. I highly suggest you get yourself a copy of the Public Offering Statement and pay attention to the description of the reason why the NJ DEP gave Somerset a letter of No Further Action.
For many people, the current environmental situation is satisfactory, but we did not feel comfortable with the thought of living there especially with our new baby.
If you have any questions, feel free to send me a direct message.
i have looked at the letter issued by DEP and did other research and feel that enormous job has been done in remediating the situation. its of course uncomfortable to think that you will be living on the soil that has been previously contaminated. what were your specific concerns or its just the overall uncomfortness that turned you down? i was also informed by a home inspector that the contamination and the radon level in the soil are not connected at all which was my concern.
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Old 10-10-2014, 02:32 PM
 
Location: Wood Ridge
26 posts, read 68,263 times
Reputation: 12
ChinoJedi:
In regards to commuting I have been taking the bus... its so easy. You have to walk less than a half mile to BLVD but I kinda like the exercise in the morning, on days I am too lazy or wearing heels I have my husband drop me off. And I agree it can be anywhere from 35-50 min. However, I just bought a new car that I love to drive so I started to drive to the Park and Ride by Lincoln Tunnel (about ten minutes away) and grab an express bus in. This has been a game changer for me. The bus leaves Port Authority every two minutes, I have never had to wait, then its only 10 min back to the park and ride.

Also if enough of us are commuters, perhaps we work on a carpool? I would be happy to drive with some company.

Someone mentioned that the apartments are in a crappy location... I'm not sure they have seen the development plans but it looks promising. The development is going to include sports fields, shops (hopefully ones that last longer than the market), they are blasting through those dead-end roads to connect to the train station which will give us easy access to BLVD and they are going to be walking trails to the park. From the development you can't see into Lodi, most units face the woods and there is a massive hill that blocks the busy street. Its a little urban but like any neighborhood it takes people to give it character.

I understand what they were saying, Wood-Ridge isn't the dream town I thought I would move to, and the development wasn't where I thought I would buy. But reality sets in...I would need to upgrade everything in one of the older homes in town to make it something modern. The town homes were the only option for our family looking to own a brand new house of significant size (4 bed/4 bath) for under a $1MM in commuting distance.

To us the drive to the city is the selling point... knowing I can be there in 25 minutes (and yes I have driven to 39th & 9th in that time on numerous occasions) gives me comfort that I will always be able to sell this place.

harpreetwalia:
1. We didn't negotiate the price, it seemed pretty set in stone, plus there was only 3 Manchester units left and they were selling fast.

2. We went with the Pulte Mortgage which was great right up front they give you a sheet with every cost you would need for closing. Our closing is next week so I will let you know if there are any surprises but I sure hope not!!

3. Our attorney only made a few small adjustments to the contract. It was all about legal and financial terms I don't understand.


Has anyone heard anything about the HOA?? Is there going to be a board?
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Old 10-10-2014, 02:38 PM
 
15 posts, read 22,761 times
Reputation: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sasha336 View Post
i have looked at the letter issued by DEP and did other research and feel that enormous job has been done in remediating the situation. its of course uncomfortable to think that you will be living on the soil that has been previously contaminated. what were your specific concerns or its just the overall uncomfortness that turned you down? i was also informed by a home inspector that the contamination and the radon level in the soil are not connected at all which was my concern.
As I mentioned, all purchasers should really carefully review the Public Offering Statement. It's important to understand that No Further Action does not mean that everything was cleaned up. That's all I feel comfortable posting in public. This is a sensitive issue and I suspect Somerset & Pulte wouldn't like it if I explained further here publicly. If you would like, please feel free to talk to me about this in Direct Message.
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Old 10-10-2014, 02:44 PM
 
Location: Wood Ridge
26 posts, read 68,263 times
Reputation: 12
Where do you find the Public Offering Statement?
If everything is in the document why are you not comfortable saying it in public?
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Old 10-10-2014, 05:41 PM
 
15 posts, read 22,761 times
Reputation: 11
I thought about posting the information here at the time we backed out of our contract but I decided not to because it's just not a very nice thing to do to Pulte or Somerset.

Public Offering Statements are gigantic legal documents (the one for this development is over 1" thick) that contain basically all the "fine print". NJ State law requires all new construction condominiums to provide interested prospective purchasers with a copy of the Public Offering Statement upon request. After the first group of owners buy a condo, these Public Offering Statements essentially get lost. The only way you can look them up is by contacting the NJ Bureau of Homeowner Protection in Trenton to request a copy.

Developers do not like to make these documents freely available because of the sensitive information they might contain, but they are required by law to give them to you if you request them. All the nitty gritty is in there. Yes, it is supposed to be "public" but in actuality it really isn't very public at all. This is why I don't feel it's right to elaborate.

By the way, when you sign your contract to buy from Pulte, you will initial that you have indeed received a copy of the Public Offering Statement. Most buyers will never get a copy or read through it. Once Attorney Review is over, you've already signed off that you got your copy and understand and accept it.
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