Living In: Parsippany-Troy Hills, N.J.: Away From the City, but Not Far

Kayla Pacan and Patrick Simon bought a townhouse in Parsippany-Troy Hills in 2012, drawn by the township’s easy highway access and location halfway between their jobs in Middlesex and Bergen counties. After about five years, the couple began searching for a larger home.

“We looked at other towns, but discovered we had fallen in love with Parsippany and wanted to stay,” said Ms. Pacan, 36, a corporate trainer in the financial industry. (Although the township’s official name includes a reference to the neighborhood of Troy Hills, it is often referred to simply as Parsippany.)

They appreciated the friends they had made, as well as the township’s cultural diversity — about a third of the population is Asian, and there is a large Hispanic community — and its open space, which gives them plenty of room to walk their dogs and ride bikes.

“It’s a nice balance: You’re away from the city, but not in the middle of nowhere,” said Mr. Simon, 34, a web developer and video producer. The couple moved into a split-level in May 2018, paying $530,000.

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By The New York Times

Like Ms. Pacan and Mr. Simon, many home buyers in Parsippany are drawn to its proximity to several major highways, including Interstate 80, Interstate 287, Route 10 and Route 46.

“You can hop on the highway, and in an hour you can get to the city, the mountains or the beach,” said Cheryl Schuck, a RE/MAX agent in nearby Montville.

Some of those highways, however, go right through the township, causing rush-hour backups. “Traffic is a huge quality-of-life issue,” said Michael A. Soriano, 51, a former electrician who now serves full-time as the mayor of Parsippany. The township is updating its master plan, and Mr. Soriano said he hopes the new plan will address traffic problems.

But many residents don’t have to commute far; they work in Morris County’s many corporate offices.

“A lot of people come here for their jobs,” said Triveni Gurikar, a RE/MAX agent who has been selling Parsippany real estate since 1987.

A number of those corporate offices are in Parsippany, including the headquarters of the Avis Budget Group and the roofing manufacturer GAF. And Teva Pharmaceutical Industries recently announced it was moving its American headquarters to Parsippany, from Pennsylvania.

Still, the office vacancy rate is more than 20 percent, reflecting the soft office market across northern New Jersey. One empty complex, on Route 10, is being redeveloped into a retail and residential complex, Mr. Soriano said.

Parth Parikh, 27, grew up in Parsippany with his brother and parents, who emigrated from India in 1987. He has fond memories of playing street hockey and cricket in the Intervale Gardens apartment complex with friends of various backgrounds — Colombian, Italian, Polish, African-American — many of them also from immigrant families.

“So many different families welcomed me and exposed me to their cultures, and they came over to my house to eat chicken tikka masala,” he said.

Mr. Parikh is now attending law school at the University of Notre Dame, in Indiana, but hopes eventually to return to Parsippany, where his parents own a townhouse.

“Growing up in a diverse town, you appreciate different perspectives and learning from other people,” he said.

Victorian homes line the streets in the Mount Tabor neighborhood.CreditLaura Moss for The New York Times

Parsippany-Troy Hills is Morris County’s most populous township, with about 53,000 residents spread over 25 square miles, in the eastern part of the county. (In an odd quirk, some of those residents have Morris Plains ZIP codes, but technically live in Parsippany.) The population exploded in the 1960s, during the post-World War II suburban building boom, so many of the homes date to that era, with plenty of Cape Cods, split-levels and ranches.

But one of the most picturesque areas is Mount Tabor, which was founded 100 years earlier, in 1869, as a Methodist camp meeting, drawing visitors for short summer stays in tents. Now Victorian homes line the narrow, hilly streets of the neighborhood, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Other areas, including Lake Hiawatha and Lake Parsippany, were developed as summer retreats. Small cottages in these lake neighborhoods generally start at around $250,000, but many of the original homes have been expanded, or knocked down and replaced.


29 GARFIELD ROAD | A four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom house, built in 2018 on 0.14 acre, listed for $592,000. 973-727-9418

Home prices generally start at about $150,000 for a one-bedroom condo in a converted garden apartment complex and can go over $1 million for the largest houses.

As of April 20, there were about 130 properties listed for sale, from a two-bedroom cottage for $127,000 to a six-bedroom house for $1.5 million.


194 HIAWATHA BOULEVARD | A four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom house, built in 2007 on 0.14 acre, listed for $589,900. 973-334-9400CreditLaura Moss for The New York Times

The median home price was $405,000 for the 12 months ending on April 1, up 1.3 percent from the previous 12 months, Ms. Gurikar said, citing data from the Garden State Multiple Listing Service. And the market has gained momentum this spring, she added, with a number of homes selling for more than the asking price.

Parsippany also has some 7,800 rental units, many in garden complexes, where rents generally start at around $1,200 for a one-bedroom.


38 CHESAPEAKE AVENUE | A three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bathroom house, built in 1940 on 0.22 acre, listed for $339,000. 908-753-4450

Parsippany’s retail businesses, including a Target, a Home Depot and a movie theater, mostly cluster in strip malls along busy Route 46. While that makes shopping convenient for residents, Route 46 is not a cozy downtown where you bump into your neighbors on the sidewalk.

“It appears like it was planned for vehicles, not for pedestrians or bicycles,” Mr. Soriano said.

But on North Beverwyck Road, in the Lake Hiawatha neighborhood, there is a small shopping district with a drugstore, deli, comic book store and ice cream shop. The township recently received a Walkable Community Workshop grant from the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority to look at ways to make that area more pedestrian-friendly, Mr. Soriano said.


On North Beverwyck Road, there is a small shopping district with a drugstore, deli, comic book store and ice cream shop. CreditLaura Moss for The New York Times

Because the township is large and divided by highways, some residents said they get their sense of connection within their neighborhoods, rather than from the township as a whole. Andrea Martone, an agent with Realty Executives Platinum, who grew up in the Lake Parsippany neighborhood, said, “When you’re in a lake community, that feels more like a tight-knit community.”

Still, civic leaders make an effort to bring everyone together with township-wide events, including an annual Flavors of India celebration that recognizes Parsippany’s large Indian community.

The township has a number of popular Chinese and Indian restaurants, including Shan Shan Noodles, Noodle Wong, Spice Grill, Tandoori Flames and Chand Palace.

Outdoor activities include golf at the Knoll Country Club and hiking through Troy Meadows, a 3,100-acre wildlife preserve.

The Parsippany-Troy Hills school district serves about 7,000 students from prekindergarten through 12th grade. The district has 10 elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools, Parsippany High School and Parsippany Hills High School.

Average SAT scores for the two high schools in 2017-2018 were 583 in reading and writing and 598 in mathematics, compared with statewide averages of 542 and 543. About 90 percent of graduates go on to further education, and 75 percent attend four-year colleges.


Lake Parsippany, a manmade lake created in the early 1930s, offers swimming, boating and fishing. CreditLaura Moss for The New York Times

Parsippany is about 30 miles west of Times Square, in Manhattan. The Lakeland Bus Lines bus 46 takes about 60 to 65 minutes to get to the Port Authority Bus Terminal; the fare is $11.35 one way, or $95.45 for 10 trips.

Commuters can also drive to train stations in neighboring Denville or Morris Plains, which have New Jersey Transit rail service to New York Penn Station. From Morris Plains, the trip takes about 70 minutes, and costs $15, or $436 for a monthly pass.

As Parsippany is crisscrossed by highways, commuters who drive have several options, including Interstate 80, Route 10 and Route 46, which run east-west across the township, and Interstate 287, which runs north-south. The drive to New York City can take an hour or two during rush hour, depending on traffic.

The Arts and Crafts designer Gustav Stickley built a log house on the western edge of Parsippany in the early 20th century. The property, which he was forced to sell in 1917 after declaring bankruptcy, is now a 30-acre park and historic landmark known as the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms.

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Published at Wed, 24 Apr 2019 20:07:10 +0000