House Snooping: Claridge Condos

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An eat-in kitchen with eastern views

For $2 million or so in Manhattan, you could probably find a two-bedroom, two-bath condo about 1,600 square feet in size. It would have a doorman, a washer/dryer in a new-ish kitchen, one or two larger closets and, if you are really lucky, a view of the sky partially unobstructed by a neighboring building.

For $339,000 in Verona you can find a similarly sized two-bedroom, two-bath condo that has a doorman who will park your car and take your groceries upstairs, 3 walk-in closets, and access to an outdoor pool, tennis courts and health club. And the completely unobstructed 10th-floor view features Manhattan, Garret Mountain and, probably, home games for the New Jersey Jackals.

The apartment is in the Claridge House complex, a two-building development on the hilltop that defines the eastern border of Verona. And let me dispel a very common misconception: The Claridge buildings are not an assisted-living development and they are not age-restricted. There are families with children in the buildings (built solidly enough to blunt most family noise), who would go to Laning Avenue if they attend public elementary school. That said, the Claridge buildings have, from their construction more than four decades ago, mostly attracted empty nesters.

The Claridge's outdoor pool
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Though in this apartment, which is in the second Claridge building, you’d have as much nest as the house you were leaving behind. The master bedroom is 13 x 20 feet; the living room-dining room measures 16 1/2 feet by 32 feet. The second bedroom is only a bit smaller than the master and has its own walk-in closet (the master has two!). There’s a charming eat-in kitchen and enough room on the balcony for a cafe table or a comfy chair. The monthly maintenance seems high at $870–until you learn that it includes gas, heat, electricity, water and AC, as well as the pool and tennis courts, parking and the in-building health club.

Quibbles? If you have children, you should know that, while the building has a party room, it does not have a children’s playroom, something that is fairly standard in Manhattan condo buildings these days. And if the apartment were mine, I’d replace the parquet-square floors, which seem from another design era.

The library and living room of the 6th-floor listing

The listing belongs to Maria Rampinelli of the Prudential New Jersey Properties’ Rampinelli Division in West Caldwell and her assistant Yana Yakhnis, and you can see all the details here. Rampinelli also has a similarly sized apartment on the sixth floor, which has been through a stunning renovation that has styled one of the two bedrooms as a library. From it, you have a clear view of the field at VHS and the Highlands at Hilltop, the new rental apartments on Verona’s western ridge. The Claridge buildings are at such an elevation that even the lower floors (Rampinelli has a one-bedroom, 1 1/2 bath apartment on the second floor) are mostly above the tree tops.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]

2 COMMENTS

  1. Beware of the monthly maintenance fees and special assessments. I heard from a friend who used to live there that the homeowners association once approved a special assessment of $2M (divided per all the units). I’m not sure if thats true, but ask about special assessment history before you buy! You should be interviewing the HOA board members and their activities (get a copy of the current financial report and some recent meeting minutes) as much as you are looking at the specific unit for sale.

  2. We called the Claridge II homeowners association to check on this. In late 2006, it took out a $3 million loan with a self-amortizing, 10-year term. Treasurer John Rollo says $800,000 of the loan has been paid back to date. The Claridge II’s last assessment was last year, for $187,000 to renovate its pool. That assessment was split between the building’s 336 units and was paid off in 5 months. Rollo says the homeowners association is “very conservative” and notes that Claridge II has not raised its monthly maintainance fees since 2007. But your basic point is well-taken: Condo buyers should always review the building’s full financials.

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