Saturday, May 13, 2017

Hasidic real-estate frenzy in South Blooming Grove since early last year 

It didn’t take Jeff and Elizabeth Baum long to find a buyer for their house once they decided it was time to leave Worley Heights.

One by one, a cascade of neighbors already had made the same decision, selling their homes to eager Hasidic couples and investors from nearby Kiryas Joel or Brooklyn in the midst of a real-estate frenzy. Interest was so feverish that about 25 prospective buyers streamed through the Baums’ four-bedroom bi-level once they put it on the market. And in just four days, they had accepted an offer for the house they had lived in for 28 years.

They have since moved to Cornwall-on-Hudson, about 13 miles away. “I would have loved to have stayed there,” said Jeff Baum, a retired New York City police officer. “This upset our plans in life. I’m a senior citizen. I wanted to age in place, but you can’t do that in Blooming Grove at this time.”

A steady turnover began in the Village of South Blooming Grove early last year. Since the home-sale closings began to accumulate in March of 2016, at least 170 homes – 15 percent of the village’s entire housing stock – have changed hands, judging from the sale records that buyers so far have filed with the Orange County Clerk’s Office. Virtually all of the buyers were from Kiryas Joel, Brooklyn or other largely Hasidic and Orthodox communities such as Monsey and Lakewood, N.J.

The same phenomenon has occurred, to a lesser degree, in other neighborhoods in Monroe and Woodbury, as more couples from the fast-growing Hasidic community look outside the congested and largely built-up confines of Kiryas Joel for housing, especially those seeking a more suburban lifestyle in which to raise their families. The demand for homes never lets up. And with efforts to expand Kiryas Joel tied up in litigation, and plans for new subdivisions in Monroe frozen for the past year by a building moratorium, buyers have focused largely on existing homes in the towns surrounding Kiryas Joel.

South Blooming Grove is a notable example both because of the high volume of homes that have been sold and the potential for a future political shift. Large in size and low in population, the village has about 3,200 people living in five square miles, an area roughly five times the size of Kiryas Joel – which has at least 23,000 residents and pending plans for hundreds of additional homes. Though political control may be the last thing that families buying homes in South Blooming Grove have in mind, the steady influx of Hasidim suggests the newcomers eventually will gain enough voting clout to decide the outcome of elections for mayor and village trustees.


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