Sunday, December 11, 2005

Times on Riverdale housing

Frum premium on housing prices in Riverdale:


TO be a real estate agent in Riverdale, the leafy enclave in the northwest Bronx, is to be mindful of not only the rules of property ownership but also the rules of the Torah. The neighborhood is home to an ever-growing number of Conservative and Orthodox Jews, and when hunting for houses or apartments, they tend to follow a stricter course than the typical New York talismans of hardwood floors and sweeping views.
"Let me start with kitchens," Bradford Trebach, a broker at Trebach Realty, said the other day. A kosher-friendly kitchen, he explained, has two separate stainless-steel sinks to keep meat and dairy apart and a two-tray, stainless-steel dishwasher for the same reason. "The ideal is to have duplicate areas for preparation, cooking and cleanup," said Mr. Trebach, who is Jewish, though not Orthodox, and has the air of someone who has spent years pointing out patios that are ideal for building sukkahs.
In Riverdale, as on the rest of the planet, the most important factor in real estate is location, but in this neighborhood location is narrowly defined. Since observant Jews are forbidden to drive on the Sabbath, apartments and houses within walking distance of synagogues are eagerly sought and sell at a premium, bringing 10 to 30 percent more.
Mr. Trebach recently sold a three-bedroom, two-bath ranch-style house on 227th Street, a location he described as "the edge of convenient," for just over $1 million, a price he said the house probably wouldn't have fetched had it not been within walking distance of a synagogue.
If there is a Riverdale equivalent of, say, Park Avenue, it is the area roughly bordered by West 254th Street on the north and West 230th Street on the south, a stretch that includes half a dozen synagogues. But, like neighborhoods throughout the city, Riverdale has boomed in recent years, with new residents moving in and real estate prices rising sharply. Coupled with the requirements of Orthodox families, the boom has resulted in a housing shortage in the most sought-after areas of the community.
The Riverdale Jewish Center has experienced the problem firsthand. While the organization gained 75 new members last year, according to David Winter, its executive director, it lost about 35, 25 of whom said that they had decided to relocate to other heavily Jewish communities, like Teaneck, N.J., because they couldn't find a house in Riverdale. "Most people would like to stay here," Mr. Winter said. "It's a small community. You can walk to stores. But it's hard to find a permanent home."
Finding apartments is also tough. The number of city apartments with enough bedrooms to house a growing family - in many Orthodox families, four or five children is the norm - is limited. In addition, unlike the many New Yorkers who desire to live atop soaring towers, observant Jews often prefer lower floors so they can use the stairs instead of the elevator on the Sabbath (pushing the button is forbidden).
The housing boom in Riverdale isn't limited to the Orthodox community, as evidenced by the dozen residential towers under construction and by the branch of Halstead, the Manhattan realty, that opened on Johnson Avenue in October. But the Orthodox community, which the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale estimates at 10,000, is driving the market. On the desks of all 10 Halstead agents is a map of the eruv, the ordained border surrounding Riverdale that allows Jews to carry items on the Sabbath without breaking Jewish law forbidding work on that day...
posted by Yeshiva Orthodoxy
at 1:56 PM


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