The Real Deal New York

Doing the math: More schools
+ more families = more building

Schools expand programs and take more space to meet demand
as developers build bigger units
By Elaine Pofeldt | June 01, 2015 07:00AM
Hamilton Park Montessori serves students from preschool through sixth grade.

Hamilton Park Montessori serves students from preschool through sixth grade.

In recent years, Hudson County private schools have grown rapidly in response to the uptick in demand from families who want to raise their children in the area. Some families are coming from New York City in search of more space; others are long-time residents who are staying put rather than moving to the Jersey suburbs. Even some New York City families are sending their children across the river.

For example, Hamilton Park Montessori School in Jersey City, which offers programs serving children from preschool through sixth grade, has grown in leaps to accommodate exponential growth in attendance. Stevens Cooperative School, with campuses in Hoboken and the Newport area of Jersey City, is similarly benefiting from Hudson County’s growing allure.

Mark Singleton, a broker and owner at Singleton Galmann Realty in Hoboken, said the growth of charter schools has played a key role in keeping families in the community and stabilizing it. He also pointed to the growing presence of private schools such as All Saints Episcopal Day School, which teaches children from early childhood through middle school, and The Hudson School, which serves grades five through 12.

“More and more families are staying,” said Singleton. “A big part is school choice.”

He noted that developers are now building three- and four-bedroom units to meet the demand from growing families.

Mark Ang, a broker and owner at Hoboken City Real Estate, agreed. He said that with much of the city’s apartment stock maxed out at 1,500 square feet, “family-size” apartments are getting put on the fast-track for zoning board variances.

Families in Hoboken and Jersey City, where underperforming public schools are a concern, have been eager for more school options for decades. Private School Review, an online publication, lists 58 private elementary schools and 16 private high schools in the county. Most have a religious affiliation but many of the newer, fast-growing private schools do not.

Alexa Huxel, head of school at Hamilton Park, says the institution started out eight years ago with 10 students and now enrolls more than 300. Yearly tuition in the full-day elementary program is $17,750.

“More families are not interested in moving out to the suburbs,” said Huxel. “Their moms or dads don’t want the big commute.”

To accommodate these families, Hamilton Park has been growing its footprint gradually in its six-story rental building. “We started out with one room on one floor,” said Huxel. “We now take up four floors, and we have two more floors we can build into.”

Stevens Cooperative School, a progressive school, will have 430 students from age two to eighth grade in the 2015 to 2016
academic year, said Wendy Eaton, director of communications. The students are spread out in four buildings on two campuses, in Hoboken and in Jersey City, where Stevens expanded in 2005. Most students at Stevens come from Hoboken and Jersey City, but there are families from surrounding towns such as Weehawken, North Bergen and
Bayonne, as well as Newark and even New York City, said Eaton.

“A lot of people in Hoboken walk to school,” said Eaton. “It’s very convenient and close to the PATH.”

One draw for the New York City students is the lower cost. Tuition at Stevens for kindergarten through second grade is $19,355; third through eighth grade is $19,940. “There are a lot of private schools in New York City that are twice the cost,” Eaton said.