Paramus, NJ: Low taxes and lots of shopping


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For decades, shoppers from many miles flocked to mega shopping malls and countless strip centers in Paramus, New Jersey, making Bergen County a regional retail center. But for the 26,000 people who already live there, the best thing about all of these businesses is that they carry a lot of property tax, giving homeowners a break.

“One of the main attractions for Paramus buyers is low taxes,” said Lisa Sammataro, real estate agent at Keller Williams in Ridgewood.

Tax rates were one of the reasons why Vincent Giordano (37), a mortgage broker, and his wife Jayme (34), a former music teacher, bought a house in Paramus, a colonial one, in 2017, for which they paid $ 645,000. The couple, who grew up in northern New Jersey and now have three small children, were also looking for a suitable place to raise their families.

“When we looked at the cities in the area, we obviously liked the low taxes in Paramus,” Mr Giordano said. “And he seems to have good schools.”

Hoda Abdulla (31) and Mehdi Ballouchy (37) also had a family in mind when they moved to Paramus in 2018 and paid $ 711,000 for a dead end in the 1960s. Ms. Abdulla, who works in digital marketing, and Mr. Ballouchy, a professional football coach, lived in several places, including Vancouver, where Mr. Ballouchy played professionally. They loved city life, but started looking at the suburbs after their daughter was born, now 4.

“Once we had a baby, we needed more space for him to play and explore,” Ms. Abdulla said. They chose Paramus in part because it seemed more diverse than in some other parts of Bergen County. Mr. Ballouchy was born in Morocco and Mrs. Abdulla is of Egyptian descent, and “it was really important to us,” she said, that their daughter “did not feel different from her classmates.”

Last summer, desperate over killing George Floyd in Minneapolis, Ms. Abdulla launched a Facebook group called Progressive Paramus women of color and allies; the group now has almost 300 members. “I feel proud of how we all got together,” she said.

But this is a transition time for Paramus, as its shopping centers compete not only with online retailers, but also with American Dream, a massive new retail and entertainment center in nearby East Rutherford. At Paramus Park, Sears was recently replaced by Stew Leonard’s grocery store. And when the chain went bankrupt, two Lord & Taylor department stores in Paramus closed; no decisions have been announced on what will replace them.

The largest shopping center in Westfield Garden State Plaza, which has seen consumer interest in walkable communities, has proposed replacing some of its parking garages with housing, restaurants, a hotel, offices and green spaces. And the borough is gaining a lot of investment in health care by building a 372-bed hospital at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood. Richard LaBarbiera, mayor of Paramus, said some properties near the new hospital – including one of Lord & Taylor’s empty stores – could be reused for medical use.

While predicting that retail would remain strong in the neighborhood, Mr. LaBarbiera added: “Paramus has always done a great job adapting to market needs.”

Paramus, about 19 miles northwest of Times Square, covers 10.5 square miles and is mostly a family housing market that largely developed after World War II, when former celery and salad farms were covered by the division of mezzanines, ranches, Cape Cods and bi-levels.

In recent years, developers have demolished many of these homes and replaced them with larger ones that sell for $ 1 million or more – such as the one sold by Nurse Saleha Ahmed, 46, and Faiz Kareem, a 48-year-old business manager for a health maintenance organization, bought. when they moved to Paramus of Teaneck in 2019 with their daughter, now 11. The couple was looking for a new building and a larger property.

The new colonial-style house, found on a quarter-acre property, cost $ 1.1 million. “We chose Paramus because we felt it was still close enough to the city and quite diverse for us,” Mrs. Ahmed said.

Developers often attract cheaper real estate, said Rocio Hernandez, a Paramus resident and real estate agent at Coldwell Banker, Ridgewood. This means that there are few homes for beginners. And longtime homeowners tend to stay put and keep a low supply of housing. “You don’t want to move out of town because taxes are so low,” said Mrs. Hernandez.

In early April New Jersey Multiple Enrollment Service showed 24 homes on the market in Paramus, from Cape Cod ‘s four – bedroom building built in 1949, priced at $ 449,000, to an extended six – room duplex with an attached professional office, built in 1952 per acre, priced at $ 2.25 million.

As the pandemic has made suburban life more attractive to many city dwellers, house prices and sales have risen over the past year, according to a multiple statement service. In the 12 months ended March 15, 299 homes were sold in Paramus, an increase of 26 percent over the previous 12 months. Prices jumped 10 percent to a median of $ 700,000 over the same period.

Young families flock to the zoo and train in Van Saun District Park on the east side of the district, while bikers, runners and walkers often prefer trails in Saddle River District Park, a linear park that runs north-south along the Saddle through Paramus and five other areas. .

Golfers can choose from four courses between Route 17 and Paramus Road: the city course Paramus; those at Arcola Country Club and Ridgewood Country Club; and the 9-hole Orchard Hills course at Bergen Community College.

Paramus does not have a walking center; instead, residents shop, dine, or go to the movies in shopping malls and pedestrian-friendly Ridgewood or Westwood shopping districts.

People outside the city often drown in traffic generated by shopping malls, but locals are looking for detours. “When you live in Paramus, you learn to travel the side streets,” said Mrs. Hernandez.

The district of Bergen restricts retail activity on Sundays and keeps many department stores closed. Over the years, they have made proposals for change that have provoked strong opposition among Paramus residents who want to take a break from traffic.

About 8,800 students attend Paramus’ eight public schools – five elementary schools, two fifth- to eighth-grade high schools, and Paramus High School. The school population is about 53 percent white, 30 percent Asian, 13 percent Hispanic, and 1.5 percent black. Languages ​​spoken at home include Spanish, Korean, Gujarati and Arabic.

In the SAT 2018–1919 tests, Paramus High School students had an average of 574 in reading and writing and 590 in math, compared to state averages of 539 and 541. About 90 percent of the class in 2019 went on to college.

There are two religious high schools in the neighborhood: Paramus Catholic High School, a coeducational school founded in 1965, and Frisch School, a modern Orthodox Jewish school founded in 1971.

The main campus of Bergen Community College, the largest community college in New Jersey, is in Paramus.

Paramus is not on the train line, but several commuters buses in New Jersey serve commuters. During peak hours, Bus 165 expresses expressly to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown, Manhattan, which takes approximately 50 minutes and costs $ 6 one way. During off-peak hours, buses run to the surrounding areas of the city, the journey takes approximately 90 minutes.

Privately run minibuses run on Route 4 to the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal in Washington Heights.

Those who prefer to drive, such as the location of Paramus at the confluence of the Garden State Parkway, Route 4 and Route 17, giving the surrounding counties within easy reach of commuting. The journey to Midtown Manhattan takes about 30 minutes without traffic, but at peak times it can be much longer.

The isolation hospital in the district of Bergen was opened in 1916 in the Paramus Quarantine for patients with polio, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. Families were discouraged from visiting patients, suffering that is reflected in the age of Covid-19, more than a hundred years later. The name of the hospital was later changed to Bergen Pines, in honor of the 1,000 pines donated on campus by the Masonic Lodge in Hackensack. The hospital, now known as Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, is still owned by Bergen County and is the largest public hospital in New Jersey with more than 1,000 hospital and nursing beds.

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