Denville, N.J.: Lakefront Living With an Eclectic Downtown

Newcomers to Denville, N.J., which sits halfway between Times Square and the Delaware Water Gap, are apt to accumulate one thing related to the latter.

“We bought a canoe,” mentioned Jessica Lemmon, a resident since 2018. “At first, my husband wanted a motorized boat, but we decided that a canoe” — plus kayaks for the couple’s two daughters — “would be a good start.”















Rockaway R.

Rock Ridge Lake







Denville station





Den Brook




2 mileS

By The New York Times

Watercraft turn out to be useful on this Morris County township, the place one-third of the households reside in certainly one of 4 membership lake communities developed a century in the past as summer season colonies. Previously Jersey City townhouse dwellers, Ms. Lemmon, 41, who works in software program gross sales, and Alan Lemmon, 41, an electrician, purchased in Indian Lake, the biggest and most socially lively of the lake communities, with 1,200 properties, and the one one allowing motorboats.

The couple found Denville whereas trying west, in the hunt for a suburban house with a yard. Their new deal with — a four-bedroom colonial constructed as a bungalow in 1930 — is a few blocks from the shoreline, and value $475,000. At the household’s disposal are three seashores, a ship slip and a clubhouse that serves as a venue for luaus, events and yoga lessons.

“Fifteen years in Jersey City, we’d never done any water sports,” Ms. Lemmon mentioned. Besides the chance for recreation, she appreciates the “strong sense of neighborhood” in a township the place lake residents — kids and adults — compete in swimming, softball, volleyball and even horseshoes.

“In Jersey City, it was rare to see someone you knew in a restaurant or grocery,” she mentioned. “But here you’re always running into a familiar face.”

A seashore and boat touchdown on Cedar Lake, certainly one of Denville’s 4 residential lakes developed a century in the past as summer season resorts. Before that, Cedar Lake was used for ice harvesting.Credit…Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Hiking trails, a dozen waterways and a few rugged terrain however, Denville is not any backwater. The township, with 16,500 residents unfold over 12 sq. miles, is on two New Jersey Transit rail strains and has a regional hospital. Interstate 80 and U.S. Route 46, each spanning northern New Jersey, crisscross close to a well-groomed downtown with almost 200 companies.

Wearied by the pandemic, Alana Jermanok, 47, an assistant principal at a Manhattan center college, and Brian Jermanok, 50, a property supervisor, got here to Denville particularly for waterfront residing. “Growing up, my family had a summer house in the Hamptons, and I have very positive memories of leaving the city environment,” Ms. Jermanok mentioned. “We wanted to provide that experience for our son,” who’s 5.

Deciding that lakefront property elsewhere was too distant and too costly, the Jermanoks paid $750,000 for a custom-built four-bedroom, cedar-shingled home on Cedar Lake, which is surrounded by woods and was as soon as used for ice harvesting.

For now, they’re preserving their Hoboken condominium and utilizing the Denville house on weekends, and can spend summers there. When their son is older, they could relocate completely to Denville, which has a well-regarded college system.

While residing on a lake usually means “being in the middle of nowhere” and doing with out diversions, Ms. Jermanok mentioned, that’s not the case in Denville, because the central enterprise district is 2 miles away. “It’s set up almost like a resort town, even though it’s not,” she mentioned. “The stores are really cute. Everything about the town is cozy. Even the way people interact is cozy — they drive past you and wave.”

9 PLEASANT VALLEY ROAD | A five-bedroom, four-bathroom home, inbuilt 1997 on 1.14 acres, listed for $1.2 million. 973-539-1120

What You’ll Find

Denville is formed like an arrowhead pointing south, with the lakes, downtown and prepare station within the northern half. It is bordered by Boonton Township to the north, Mountain Lakes and Parsippany to the east, and Randolph and Rockaway Township and Borough to the west.

Because many properties close to the lakes — Rock Ridge and Arrowhead, along with Indian and Cedar — originated as trip bungalows and cabins, they are typically modest in measurement, and plenty of one-fifth of an acre are typical. But to the south and past state Route 10, the place an upscale strip mall has nationwide vogue retailers and a Trader Joe’s, Denville reveals a special face. Here, in an space developed within the final 45 years or so, farmland has yielded to the traditional suburban tableau of huge colonial homes and the occasional McMansion, on manicured a lot of a half-acre or extra.

In the middle of New Jersey’s most prosperous county, Denville has a median family revenue of $125,655 — $10,000 above the county median, however considerably under that of Madison, the Chathams and next-door Mountain Lakes, in accordance with the 2019 census American Community Survey.

“Denville becomes the choice of many home buyers who can’t afford Madison and Chatham but who still want a town with a train station and a sweet downtown,” mentioned Mary Okay. Sheeran, the proprietor of the Sheeran Real Estate Group in Denville, a part of Keller Williams Metropolitan. Some 40 p.c of house patrons come from New York City and densely populated areas in New Jersey, Ms. Sheeran mentioned, and empty nesters are a part of the combo: “They see living on a lake as a way to entertain the grandkids.”

24 ALPINE DRIVE | A four-bedroom home with two full loos and two half loos, inbuilt 1995 on 2.47 acres, listed for $915,000. 973-539-1120

What You’ll Pay

From May 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021, 297 single-family homes offered in Denville, at a median worth of $460,000, in accordance with the Garden State Multiple Listing Service. During the identical interval a 12 months earlier, earlier than the pandemic heightened demand for suburban actual property, 252 homes offered at a median worth of $412,000.

Denville’s common residential property tax invoice in 2020 was $10,200, $670 under the Morris County common. Homeowners within the lake communities pay lower than $1,000 in annual charges.

On May 19, the itemizing service confirmed 27 properties in the marketplace, principally single-family properties, starting from $185,000 for a one-bedroom condominium to $1.899 million for a working 11-acre farm. Approaching the township median, at $435,000, was a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1930 colonial on Warren Trail within the Indian Lake neighborhood, with property taxes of $7,927.

68 MORRIS AVENUE | A 3-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bathroom home, inbuilt 1920 on 1.02 acres, listed for $475,000. 973-361-7700

The Vibe

“As our downtown goes, so go our property values,” mentioned Thomas Andes, Denville’s mayor. “Our goal is to keep it charming and quaint.”

Adorned by flower baskets positioned by a beautification committee, the downtown — seemingly little affected by the pandemic or the presence of the county’s largest shopping center 5 miles away — is anchored by an extra-wide Broadway with angled parking. The thoroughfare is the location of occasions all year long, together with avenue festivals, a classic-car present and a Thanksgiving parade.

Shopping is eclectic, together with swimwear and communion attire; olive oils and day-spa providers; sneakers and CBD merchandise. A range retailer/smoke store carries penny sweet, image postcards and an enormous stock of tobacco. Across the road, a former cinema is now a chocolatier.

Dining choices vary from Irish pub to sushi, Puerto Rican meals to Indian — and dessert normally means ice cream on the venerable Denville Dairy, which rotates by way of greater than 100 flavors.

In a township with a shop-local custom, “there aren’t many places where you can walk in and not know who owns the joint,” mentioned Meg Olenowski, a lifelong resident and an proprietor of Sisters, certainly one of a half-dozen clothes boutiques downtown.

Thatcher McGhee’s is an Irish pub on Broadway with a conventional menu that includes fish and chips, bangers and mash and shepherd’s pie.Credit…Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

The Schools

Denville’s public colleges — two elementary colleges and a center college for sixth by way of eighth grade college students — are 74 p.c white, 12 p.c Hispanic, eight p.c Asian and a couple of.5 p.c Black.

The regional Morris Knolls High School, on Knoll Drive, enrolls 1,400 college students. Average SAT scores in 2019-20 have been 574 in studying and writing and 567 in math, versus statewide averages of 536 in each topics. At the Morris County School of Technology, a public magnet highschool on East Main Street, college students scored 644 in studying and writing and 631 in math.

Other choices within the township embody the coeducational Morris Catholic High School and Celebrate the Children, a personal college for college students with autism and particular wants.

Broadway’s circa-1930s movie show now homes a candy store.Credit…Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

The Commute

From the Denville station, commuters on New Jersey Transit’s Morris and Essex Line can attain Penn Station in Manhattan in 70 to 80 minutes with out altering trains. The journey prices $15 a technique or $436 month-to-month.

Lakeland Bus Lines offers service to the Port Authority terminal, a journey of about an hour. The fare is $12.25 a technique or $104.60 for 10 journeys.

The History

Iron forges alongside the Rockaway River and Den Brook put Denville on the map. Den refers both to Daniel Denton, a 17th-century Englishman who explored inside northern New Jersey, or to the “den” of untamed animals prevalent close to the waterways.

By the time the township was included in 1913, iron was a distant reminiscence and builders have been touting Denville as a getaway. Among the rich New Yorkers who vacationed within the space was Babe Ruth, who had a spot on Cedar Lake.

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