Millburn/Short Hills, New Jersey
Millburn/Short Hills has a story. In fact, it has dozens of stories. Far from being just another New York commuter town, this upscale township has found its place in history time and time again. From its inclusion in Philip Roth’s 1959 breakout book “Goodbye Columbus” through its recent time in the spotlight as the hometown of Academy Award-winning actress Anne Hathaway, Millburn/Short Hills has a comfortable place among New Jersey’s notable towns.
According to the Millburn Historical Society, while known today for its stately homes and thriving downtown, Millburn began as a colonial settlement with agricultural origins, followed by a 19th century mill/factory economy. Eventually it became a Victorian – and still later a residential community. There are many examples of the rich history still present in the township, from the Hessian House, the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum, the Paper Mill Playhouse, and the many beautiful homes from all phases of the township’s history, to the two historic districts, Short Hills Park and Wyoming.
Millburn Township was once part of Elizabethtown and Newark settlements in New Jersey, created by a grant from Charles II to his brother James in 1664. In 1793 Springfield Township was created and it included Millburn. In 1857 Springfield became part of the new Union County and Millburn became a separate township within Essex County. Short Hills is a hamlet within Millburn Township. In June 2007, Millburn’s day-long Sesquicentennial Celebration turned into one of the biggest celebrations in the township’s history.
Millburn Township is a sophisticated town with the warmth and feel of a small town,” said recent Mayor Sandra Haimoff, herself a long-time resident. “Schools, shops, recreation facilities, theaters all meet the needs of the residents from the youngest to the oldest. Millburn Township is truly the place you want to call home.
Downtown Millburn has become a destination in its own right, with its distinctive blend of shops, boutiques, and fine restaurants. The addition of a multi story parking deck across from the train station means parking will be a breeze for everyone from commuters to shoppers.
Downtown Millburn, a 501 © (3) non-profit organization, was established by the Millburn Township Committee as a Special Improvement District in 1992. The mission of Downtown Millburn is to enhance the economic vitality and to improve the visual appearance of the downtown.
There are approximately 500 retail, office, and commercial properties located in downtown Millburn, and nearby, the Mall at Short Hills draws shoppers from far and wide for its upscale shops, salons and restaurants.
Millburn/Short Hills is easily accessible by various modes of transportation including the midtown direct line of New Jersey Transit Morris & Essex rail line, bus lines, the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike as well as Routes 24 and 78.
Millburn is home to Paper Mill Playhouse, a nationally recognized theater and playhouse that dates back to 1938. Paper Mill performs a full slate of shows every year and has drawn such illustrious stage names as Jason Robards, Colleen Dewhurst, Tony Randall and Betty Buckley. Hathaway got her start at Paper Mill, as did Kristin Chenoweth. The acclaimed Broadway musical “Newsies” enjoyed a hugely successful run at Paper Mill before heading for the “Great White Way”.
The Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary is a non-profit organization which serves as a cultural and educational center for the residents of greater Millburn Township for the purpose of fostering, through demonstration and participation, awareness and respect for nature and the environment.
Taylor Park in Millburn offers a beautiful lake with a walking path, tennis courts and a full playground. For family fun, the Millburn-Short Hills Fourth of July celebration is well-known as the place to be. Every year, the Fourth of July Committee puts together parades, softball, family events, and fills Taylor Park with rides for the kids. After dark, one of the area’s biggest fireworks displays lights up the night sky.
The Millburn Township Public Schools serve students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. Schools include five K-5 elementary schools: Deerfield, Glenwood, Hartshorn, South Mountain and Wyoming. Millburn Middle School serves children from sixth through eighth grade, and Millburn High School is for grades 9-12.
Millburn High School was ranked as Number 148 in Newsweek Magazine’s listing of “America’s Best High Schools” in the August 5, 2005 issue, and was the 8thranked public high school in New Jersey out of 328 schools statewide in New Jersey Monthly magazine’s September 2012 issue.
There are also three private schools in the community: Far Brook School in Short Hills, which serves nursery school through eighth grade; Pingry School’s Lower School (K-6) in Short Hills; and St. Rose of Lima, a Catholic school for students from pre-K through eighth grade.
Millburn and Short Hills are considered one community under Millburn Township, but the prices and sizes of available properties are considerably different, according to Karen Bigos of Towne Realty Group.
“Millburn has more older homes on less land, and it is actually the smaller area of the township; Short Hills comprises a much bigger part of the township with larger lots and higher price tags,” Bigos said. “A lot of Short Hills was developed in the 1940’s -1980s, and in the last decade, there have been many tear-downs. You can’t do that in Millburn – the housing stock is very different.”
Millburn and Short Hills both have historic districts where houses can’t be torn down at all. The distinctive areas of each community include the South Mountain, Wyoming and Washington sections of Millburn, and the Deerfield, Hartshorn and Glenwood sections of Short Hills.
In Millburn, currently there are 16 homes for sale with the average list price of
$625,000, and 18 homes under contract with the average sale price of $683,515. Since January 1, 17 homes have closed in Millburn with the average sale price of $680,470.
In Short Hills there are 80 homes for sale with the average list price of $2,420,000 (much higher due to the mansions and new construction). There are 51 homes pending sale in Short Hills, with the average list price of $1,445,471. Since January 1, 27 homes have closed in Short Hills with the average selling price of $1,698,783.
“The demand for homes in both Millburn and Short Hills is high,” said Cheryl Darmanin, CNE, CSMS, sales associate with Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty. “Once a home goes on the market, if it is priced correctly, it does not stay on the market for long. As of the most recent data from the Garden State MLS, the average days on the market to under contract in Millburn/Short Hills in the first quarter of 2013 is 48 days. In the first quarter of this year, 43 homes were sold in Millburn/Short Hills. That is a 15 percent increase over the first quarter of 2012.”
Darmanin added that the absorption rate for Millburn (the number of months it would take to sell every house currently on the market without adding any new homes) is four months. A balanced market is typically 5-7 months.
“We are seeing more tear downs and new construction in all areas of Millburn and Short Hills,” she said. “This includes South Mountain, Deerfield, Hartshorn and the Poet’s Section. The Enclave at Short Hills is the largest new construction development with town homes ranging from the upper 900s to $1.3 million.”
Part of the appeal of Millburn/Short Hills, she said, is the location.
“With two train stations with direct access to Manhattan in under 45 minutes, Millburn and Short Hills is the perfect community for commuters who work in Manhattan,” she said. “Downtown Millburn is a very walkable community which gives it the feel of a small town. Access to the South Mountain Reservation enables people that enjoy outdoor activities the ability to participate in hiking, biking, picnicking, and various sports. Easy access to New York City combined with a vibrant downtown filled with great restaurants, shopping, services and outdoor recreation areas as well as a very sought after school district makes this one of the most desirable communities in Essex County.”
Tear Downs in Short Hills – Making Style Sense.
Like fashion, which changes over the years, so do home styles. Successful builders recognize that today’s savvy homebuyers want a smarter living space with an open floor plan design. The overall room flow needs to be what I would call, “intuitive”, whereby the space needs to make sense for how families actually live. Functional and attractive spaces which enable homeowners to go about their busy lifestyles are the current trend.
For example, we’re seeing large spaces within the new construction homes devoted to specific functions such as: expanded mudrooms to accommodate sports equipment and back packs, his and hers home offices, master dressing areas, exercise rooms, wine cellars with tasting rooms, and media rooms. –Suzanne “Suzy” Minken