05 May 2018

Hillsborough Township Postwar Residential Development Part 3: 1981 - 1993

Readers who follow the Gillette on Hillsborough Facebook Page are participating in a year-long house-hunting expedition through the real estate ads of yesteryear. In this third and final group of posts, represented by the brief excerpts below, we have taken a look at residential development in the township from the end of the Planned Unit Development period into the beginning of the McMansion era.

Enjoy the recap below, and be sure to follow the Gillette on Hillsborough page by clicking the link here, and "liking" the page. Thanks!

We begin the third phase of our exploration of Hillsborough's residential development by looking at some vintage real estate ads from 1981, 1982, and 1983. The homes of Contempo West - on Longfield Drive and side streets - have their own unique contemporary style, differing from the colonials featured in most of Hillsborough's developments. This was nothing new for Parisi Building and Investment Co., Inc. as they had already built similar developments at South Plainfield, as you can see in the ad. 

We are back in the Planned Unit Development this week to visit Weybridge Place circa 1982-83. This development was advertised as Authentic Federalist Townhomes and makes a nice contrast to last week's visit to Contempo West.

We are continuing our chronological exploration of Hillsborough's residential development this week by visiting Woodfield Estates. This large development - over 300 homes - debuted in 1983 south of Amwell and west of Pleasantview Roads.

Throughout the 1980s the Planned Unit Development (PUD) Zone - an area bounded roughly by Triangle Road in the north, Route 206 in the east, Homestead Road in the south, and Pleasant View, Amwell, New Amwell, and Auten Roads in the west - continued to fill in with higher density projects. This week we visit The Manors, a handsome townhouse development south of Amwell Road near the high school.

Our continuing trek through the real estate ads of yesteryear brings us this week to the intersection of Willow and Matthew Roads circa 1984 where you'll find the entrance to "the Seasons". This development was advertised as having wooded lots, and, uniquely, lot sizes varying from 3/4 acre to 2 1/2 acres.

In this third phase of our exploration of Hillsborough's post-war residential development, we have been jumping in and out of the Planned Unit Development Zone. This week we are back in the Zone and visiting Huntington Park circa 1985. This townhouse development which used the slogan "Now you don't have to go a long way to look like you've come a long way" is located south of Raider Boulevard at Greenfields Lane.

The story of New Center Village - a development of around 100 single-family homes north and south of Triangle Road west of its intersection with Auten Road - begins in 1978 when the owner of the property challenged Hillsborough Township re-zoning that limited the number of homes that could be built. A 1980 agreement restored the original zoning and included a provision that required Hillsborough, with a $294,000 developer contribution, to pave Auten Road from New Amwell to the intersection of Triangle Road, and eventually to the railroad crossing by 1985. I am not sure if Hillsborough made the deadline, but in any event, New Center Village began advertising at the end of 1985 and opened section 2 north of Triangle in 1989. The developer also set aside a few acres at the southwest corner of Auten and Triangle for a retail complex aptly named New Center Village Square, commonly known as the CVS strip mall.


Our year-long survey of Hillsborough's post-war residential development brings us this week to Majestic Knolls. Approval for this single-family-home development was granted in 1984 - provided that the developer finish the missing piece of Triangle Road between South Triangle and Auten. The necessary property was acquired from Mary Mother of God Church the next year, and the first models were up by 1987. Wrap-around porches and central air were some of the selling points in the 1989 ad below. 

Today we journey back in time to 1988 to visit the beginnings of one of Hillsborough's most well-known developments, Country Classics. The sprawling construction project in the Millstone Valley along Amsterdam Drive has been ongoing now for almost 30 years! Ironic to think that it was approved in the late 80s amid a looming federally mandated construction ban caused by incomplete sewerage upgrade projects. It is also interesting to realize that in the past 30 years people have raised their families in Country Classics and moved on, and the development isn't even finished!!

Whenever I think of the large, unique townhouse development on Bloomingdale Drive near New Amwell and Auten Roads, I always think of the Third Stooge - First there was Curly, then there was Joe, and finally, there was Curly Joe. In Hillsborough we first had the award-winning Meadows - then there was The Glen, and finally...Glen Meadows! Coincidence? While you're pondering that, take a look at these two ads for The Glen and Glen Meadows from 1989 and 1991.

What's unique about Brittany Estates, the single-family-home development which debuted in the southeast corner of Hillsborough in 1989? How about the fact that their home designs were dubbed "The Working Woman's Dream House"? According to the ads, designs were "created based on input from a panel of female professionals"!! So, are you a working woman? Do you find that the homes of Brittany Estates have the "perfect combination of function and luxury"?

This week we venture boldly into the 1990s with a development that exemplifies the new era of much larger homes - Steeplechase Manor. Master Bedroom suites, 3-Car Garages, 2-story Entrance Foyers....there is a pejorative commonly used for homes with all of these features, but I reject it on the basis that people may use the same term to describe my home - which is not very different than the circa 1965 house I grew up in. Interestingly, brokers reported that nearly all of the initial sales in this 57 home subdivision were to people moving from somewhere else in Hillsborough. Were you one?

Hillsborough residents were well familiar with the name Crestmont Hills long before the opening of the first model home northeast of the intersection of Auten and Triangle Roads in 1992 thanks to a builder's remedy lawsuit filed against the township by the aforementioned Crestmont Hills way back in October 1984. Following close on the heels of the Mount Laurel II court decision which stated that ALL municipalities had to provide more moderate and low-income housing regardless of what had been built in the past, builders began suing towns whose zoning didn't allow the density necessary to build that type of housing. An agreement that allowed the developers to build 91 low-to-moderate-income units at the intersection of Auten and Triangle, as well as provide funds to rehabilitate houses in Phillipsburg and improve Auten Road was finally reached in 1988. We looked at Crestmont Hills when we were house hunting in Hillsborough in 1992 - how about you? 

We only have a few more weeks in our chronological exploration of our town's post-war residential development. This week we visit Pleasant View Farms - approved in 1988 and debuting in 1991. The development consists of three distinct subdivisions, all south of Amwell Road and west of Route 206.

Branchville Estates - the upscale development near the Raritan River - gave a nod to history by using the historic name for the village of South Branch, then backed it up by agreeing to preserve the historic Vroom Burial Ground on property they owned on River Road - eventually deeding the cemetery to Hillsborough Township.

I hope you have enjoyed our weekly journey through the real estate ads of yesteryear as we've traced 40 years of Hillsborough Township residential development. Today we arrive at the final stop, Rohill Country Estates. This development on both sides of Beekman Lane first appeared in 1983 under the name Rohill Village, Inc., one of a confederation of companies known as The Hallmark Group. You could write three or four full newspaper pages about the interconnected principals of The Hallmark Group and their activities in Somerset and Hunterdon counties. In fact, The Courier News did just that in 1993. In any case, this development did lead to the improvement (i.e. paving) of Beekman Lane from New Amwell Road all the way to River Road, which was certainly beneficial to commuters.
When we decided to relocate from Monmouth County in 1992 we looked at many developments under construction in Hillsborough: Majestic Knolls, Crestmont Hills, Woodfield Estates, Pleasant View Farms, etc., but settled on Rohill. This weekend marks our 25th anniversary in the township. I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to present this year-long series to you in commemoration of our 25 years as Hillsboroughians. Cheers!

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