Housing market, bad; rail towns, good

The Transit-Friendly Development newsletter is one of those wonk-ish things that probably doesn’t get much pub outside of public policy and bureaucratic circles. So, of course, I subscribe.

A joint effort between NJ Transit and the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, the newsletter publishes three times a year. In the previous edition, it reported on the Town Center plans and has featured Rahway in the past. The January edition reported on a presentation at the League of Municipalities Conference last fall by a real estate appraisal and research group. Basically they said the housing market is a nightmare — with one exception:

“Affected by the strength of the Manhattan housing market, as well as a national trend showing distinct preferences among 20-somethings and baby boomers for live-work-play locations such as New Jersey, one bright spot in this slumping sector is housing in transit-rich locations. While expensive suburban homes languish on the market, with 48 weeks of inventory, housing near locations with excellent rail connections to Manhattan is flourishing with less than a six-month supply of unsold homes.”

The piece fails to mention either the North Jersey Coast Line or Northeast Corridor, instead pointing to Glen Ridge and Montclair on the Montclair-Boonton Line; South Orange, Maplewood, Millburn, Summit and New Providence on the Morris & Essex Gladstone Branch; and Roselle Park, Cranford, Westfield and Fanwood on the Raritan Valley Line.

Granted, most of the towns cited are more affluent than Rahway to begin with. However, say what you will about NJ Transit or its service, the city probably has better rail connections than any of them. It’s one of the few places Rahway can be mentioned in the same breath as those (and one thing it has in common with Summit, which like Rahway is where its two train lines split). While the Morris & Essex line also has a train to Hoboken, the Raritan Valley only goes as far as Newark Penn Station and weekend service doesn’t exist on the Montclair-Boonton.

P.S. The newsletter also has an update on downtown redevelopment efforts further down the Northeast Corridor line in nearby Metuchen.