It is a project bringing a new type of housing, and possibly a new type of people, to Bridgewater.
celebrated the official grand opening Wednesday of its new luxury apartments off Route 202/206—and they are looking to fulfill a need among a generation in which home ownership rates have fallen.
"The decline is happening partially because of the costs," said Stephen Santola, executive vice president and general counsel for Woodmont Properties. "We are seeing a generation that doesn't want to worry if a job moves, or they meet a future spouse. Many choose where to live before they get a job."
Woodmont Properties has a total of 100 apartments in its location on Bellis Court, all two-bedroom and all for rent. On average, the apartments are going for a rent of $2,200 a month.
At this point, Santola said, already 50 percent of the apartments in Woodmont have been leased.
The apartment complex, which was first designed for senior housing, was conceived in 2001, but governmental changes and more kept it from being completed until now. Santola said the state administration in Trenton saw an overabundance of senior housing in the state, and determined that developments could switch to regular market rate units with an affordable housing component if they adhered to certain criteria.
Santola said Woodmont moved forward with the change immediately.
"We jumped in and started right away," he said. "We have had 45 to 50 folks working on the site at one time."
"So we not only poured money into the community, we added 20 affordable units," he added.
Santola said the current economy is interesting in that there are many people who could afford to buy their own homes, based on the rents they are paying, but they are choosing not to.
"A lot could qualify for buying a home," he said. "But this is a nice alternative for a senior couple when they are not sure where to go next."
Plus, Santola said, Bridgewater itself offers a great deal of commercial industries and other opportunities.
"Where there are lots of employers, there are not always a lot of luxury apartments," he said.
Luxury apartments, Santola said, include 9-foot ceilings, granite countertops, walk-in closets, stall showers, fitness rooms, club houses and much more.
"We have leased a total of 40 so far," he said. "And 10 or 11 have moved in so far."
Lewis Zlotnick, president of Woodmont Properties, said this builds a new opportunity in an established community with all kinds of resources, including 20 pharmaceutical companies within several miles, lots of shopping and much more.
"People want to live and work in the same community," he said. "They don't want to spend their days traveling."
Most importantly, Santola said, in these apartments they are not necessarily trying to attract families, but more like young couples and seniors.
And Bridgewater Township Mayor Dan Hayes said he believes Bridgewater is a dynamic community with all sorts of different families.
"This project seems to fit a market need," he said. "Part of the community's strength is that we do have residents here for a spectrum of reasons. It's a strong community."
Hayes said he can imagine a young couple first starting out and wanting to be part of the Bridgewater community.
"Then if things change, hopefully they can stay in the community," he said.
But, most importantly, Hayes said, this shows the many offerings that Bridgewater has as a community itself.
"There are employment opportunities that spur this," he said. "We understand that the commercial and units have to fit with quality of life. And we want to make sure the developments fit a broader vision."