NJ Planners Told: More Apartments and Condos Needed

New Jersey towns build nowhere near enough multi-family housing such as this on Spring Street in Princeton. (Click to expand.)

A successful multi-family development in Spring Street in Princeton- but New Jersey towns are not building anywhere near enough housing like this. (Click to expand.)

The New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association heard a plea at their recent annual conference to stop fix the housing market by phasing out dysfunctional planning and zoning practices. Real estate expert Jeffrey Otteau told the conference that Jersey is not building anything like enough housing, and is building the wrong types of housing.

Ottreau contrasted the supply of commercial real estate and offices, which is sufficient to meet projected demand for decades, with that of multi-family housing, which is only sufficient for a matter of weeks. His analysis matches very closely what is happening in the Princeton area, where multi-family housing is routinely opposed while retail spaces lie under-utilized. Zoning restrictions have caused an artificial shortage of housing which is driving up prices and penalizing people who try to make a living in New Jersey, particularly those of moderate incomes.

Interestingly, there is one sector of housing in which New Jersey does really well: age-restricted housing. New Jersey has 11 years of supply of age-restricted housing. Why is the New Jersey housing market awash with options for the older generation but showing a serious shortage of the types of housing most in-demand from young adults? Is New Jersey really going to be a state that turns its back on its young families?

Have your say: why do New Jersey towns not allow more multi-family housing to be built? Is it part of the American dream to have to experience hardship when you are getting established on the housing ladder? Or should municipalities make a greater effort to supply a balanced mix of housing? Let us know in the comments section below.

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2 Responses to NJ Planners Told: More Apartments and Condos Needed

  1. Wow says:

    “why do New Jersey towns not allow more multi-family housing to be built?”
    In my opinion because the people in charge do not stand to benefit personally. In general they aren’t ‘young families’ and neither are their major funders. Unfortunately altruism and doing things for ‘the greater good’ seem to be a thing of the past.

    When will we get more multi-family homes? When developers realize there is money to be made in the multi-family sector and start putting pressure onto those in charge to change the planning regulations. Money talks.

  2. Valerie Haynes says:

    The classic explanation for this phenomena is our reliance on property taxes to fund schools. Towns are afraid of development that will add students and increase school taxes, so age-restricted housing is welcomed while multi-family development is feared. Older suburbs find themselves with fewer students than their schools can accommodate (remember when Princeton closed the Johnson Park school because of too few students) while the outer areas allow subdivisions and incur huge costs for new schools. Just another manifestation of NJ fiscal madness, but as the previous commenter notes, some benefit from this system.

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