BACKGROUND FOR PLANNING
Teaneck is an inseparable part of the New York Metropolitan Region. As such, its economy and population characteristics are largely determined by economic, political, physical and social forces acting upon the region
as a whole. It would be impossible for Teaneck to disassociate itself from these forces, and a realistic General Development Plan for the Township could not be developed without reference to them.
More specifically, Teaneck lies in the Inner Ring of this region, which in New Jersey includes all of Bergen and Union Counties and parts of Essex and Passaic Counties. Some of the conclusions of recent Regional
Plan Association studies in regard to the future development trends of this particular area and which have general applicability to Teaneck are: (if present trends continue)
PEOPLE: Between 1960 and 1985, six million people will be added to the sixteen million now living in the New York Metropolitan Region. Most of the six million will be our own children. By 1975 it is expected that more people will be moving out of the region than into it. Not until this time will the impact of the population boom on the housing market and on the demand for living space be felt. Recently, the number of 30-34 year-olds (the usual ages for home buying) has declined. But by 1975, babies born in the boom that began in 1946-47 will be looking for houses, and they will be primarily heading for the outlying areas rather than the core and older suburbs.
JOBS: Manufacturing and wholesaling employment in the New Jersey sector of the Inner Ring is expected to increase by 228,000 jobs, with an additional 86,000 predicted for Bergen County. Industries not tied to a central location in the region, including chemicals, drugs, electronics, auto assembly and scientific research will make up the major part of those locating in the Inner Ring. Adequate acreage is presently zoned to accommodate the acreage needs, but since much of the land is in marshlands which can't be developed properly in the absence of large-scale public measures, prime industrial sites in many of the suburban communities will be keenly sought.
HOUSING: With jobs continuing to be relatively concentrated in the Inner Ring and Core, the demand will increase for housing in close-in parts of the region as people resist longer, more expensive journeys to work.
To a large extent this demand will manifest itself in multi-family buildings. The families which bid for such space will be high and middle-income groups and will be heavily weighted by two groups: People in their fifties or older who have reared their families in the vicinity and who are anxious to remain there without the burdens of maintaining their outsized homes; and couples in the early years of marriage who do not need the space in a private dwelling, or who lack the means of buying one. These two groups will increase substantially in number in the decade or two ahead.
CARS: The number of trips to both Newark and Manhattan will increase. But with jobs growing only slowly in the two great centers and growing rapidly in the suburbs, radial trips will increase in number much more slowly than trips from one suburban area to another. Passenger transportation, therefore, will become more diffused. Accordingly, in the absence of major innovations in mass transit the use of the motor vehicle will continue to expand and substantial local traffic pressures can be expected to result.
RECREATION: Increased leisure time can be expected to result in greater demands on public and private recreation. As suburban residential lots get bigger in both the Inner Ring and the outlying areas, as communities strive to avoid the population pressure, the countryside will get farther away and access to it will become more difficult and time-consuming. Many people will rely more on close-in recreation and will pressure local public agencies to provide a greater range of recreational facilities.
Teaneck is a residential town of predominantly one-family homes. About 83 per cent of the developed land is occupied by residences. Lot sizes are small by modern suburban standards. This density of development is not, however, unusual for a community so close to Manhattan. What is unusual about Teaneck is that, although within three air-miles of Manhattan, there is still a clear attractive suburban character.
Teaneck has developed largely during the past 60 years. The 1900 population was only 768 persons. The present population is estimated to be about 43,500 persons. Since 1920, Teaneck has developed rapidly, with each decade between 1920 and 1960 bringing an increase of about 8,000 to 9,000 persons. Teaneck is now more heavily populated than the two older communities of Hackensack and Englewood on either side of it. In terms of population density, Teaneck, with 7,120 persons per square mile and Hackensack with 7,580, are densely developed in comparison to the over-all density of Bergen County of 3,330 persons per square mile.The population of Teaneck is getting older. Although all of the age groups have grown larger in absolute numbers over the past decade, in terms of a percentage of the population, the 0-4 and 21-44 age groups have declined. The age groups of 5-20 and 65 and over both gained about 50 per cent. The increase in the 5-20 age group, of course, was directly reflected in school enrollment increases.The relationship between the 0-4 and 21-44 age groups reflects the fact that the latter group represents the usual child-bearing age of mothers and, consequently, any decrease in this group is reflected in the 0-4 group. This same decreasing trend in the younger age groups can also be deducted from the birth rate trends in Teaneck, which decreased from 16 in 1950 to about 10 in 1960; the State-wide birth rate in 1960 was 22.Long-term projections are unreliable except when made in very general terms. The changes in the previous decade suggest that. Teaneck may be following a pattern characteristic of aging communities in which the population also ages. A departure from this trend might be expected if any great number of the 5-20 age group decide to remain in Teaneck, thus tending to swell again the 21-44 age group.
The geographic distribution of population by age group has not altered significantly in the past decade. In both the 1950 and 1960 Census, there has been a strong correlation between the incidence of pre-school and school age children and renter occupied dwelling units (principally apartments). In areas of high renter occupancy in the Township there is a slight increase over that of the entire Township in the incidence of 0-4 age children, indicating the general acceptability of apartment living for families with very small children. However, the situation is different in the case of the school age children. In Teaneck, the higher the percentage of renter occupancy in an area, the lower the percentage of school age children. In rental units an average of from 0.22 to 0.24 school age children per dwelling unit resulted, while in home-owner units an average of one school age child per dwelling unit was observed.As would be expected, the incidence of the 65 and over age group is higher in the renter occupancy areas.
As Teaneck's population has grown in the past years, so has its housing supply. In 1960 a total of 12,442 dwelling units were in existence. These units represent Teaneck's greatest economic investment. The market value of these units is estimated to be close to one quarter of a billion dollars, or roughly an average value of $18,500 per dwelling unit. The continued maintenance of this housing in a sound condition is a major problem facing Teaneck.Through sound planning and administration Teaneck has escaped most of the manifestations of blighting conditions which prevail in many of the older Inner Ring suburbs.
A number of factors tend to uphold the quality of housing in Teaneck. The first of these is the great demand for single-family homes. The per cent of the total dwelling units vacant has been as follows over the past 30 years: 1930, 15.0%; 1940, 9.8%; 1950, 2.0%; and 1960, 1.4%. Clearly, then, there is a tremendous demand for housing in Teaneck. A vacancy rate of 1.4 per cent indicates a very tight housing market. The only significant areas of vacancy are in the apartments in the Plaza area and in the Argonne Park area east of Teaneck Road. The 1960 Census reported 22 apartment units available in the Plaza area and 33 one-family units available in the latter area. With the exception of these two areas the demand for housing is exceptionally strong and the vacancies in the apartments can be considered typical.
Coupled with this demand for housing is a high incidence of owner occupancy. Owner occupancy of one-family homes is usually associated with a higher degree of interest in the maintenance of property than one-family home rental occupants and, therefore, is considered desirable from the community's viewpoint. In the past 20 years, the percentage of owner occupied units in the Township has risen from about 70 to 80 per cent of the total housing supply. In the case of one-family homes there is a very small market for rental units, estimated at only two per cent of the total units. The conspicuous departure is in the case of the northeast area of the Township east of Teaneck Road where an estimated one-half of the rental one-family units in the Township exist.
Another factor tending to maintain the quality of housing in Teaneck is the relative youth of the housing supply. Age in itself does not mean obsolescence. In fact, many new homes would do well to have some of the openness and livability of 19th century homes. Yet age suggests obsolescence. Outmoded room arrangements, lack of modern service facilities, high maintenance costs, and excessive lot coverage often accompany an aged structure. In Teaneck about 9,000 units, or roughly three-quarters of the housing supply, is less than 35 years of age.
Despite the above described generally good signs, the housing supply in Teaneck is showing indications of deterioration in certain areas. The 1960 Census reported 375 dwelling units in Teaneck as deteriorating but repairable. About 60 per cent of these were in the southeast section of the Township, with another minor concentration in the northeast section. The remaining units classified as deteriorating were generally distributed about the rest of the Township. These evidences of incipient blight must not go unheded. There is a sufficient concentration of such units to warrant concern.
THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK
Although Bergen County still remains in second place after Essex County in terms of total retail sales in New Jersey, the gap has narrowed considerably, due to Bergen's exceptionally vigorous rate of growth. Essex County's lead in 1957 of $.4 million, or 18.9% of total sales for the two counties, was reduced by 1961 to $.2 million, or only 8.1 %. Much of the increase in Bergen County's retail sales occurred after 1954 and can be attributed in part to the opening of the two Paramus shopping centers; Garden State Plaza and Bergen Mall.
Particularly strong has been the gain in the segment of the retail market made up by general merchandise, apparel and household furnishings. These goods are known as "shopper" items and very susceptible to price comparison and the vagaries of personal tastes. They also furnish an index of the regional drawing power of retail centers and are, accordingly, distinct from "convenience" goods, the sales of which are contingent upon proximity to the customer's home.
RETAILING IN TEANECK
Overall, the prospects for retailing in Teaneck are good. local sales within Teaneck have shown a healthy increase in the 1948-58 period; preliminary data indicates a further 9.4% gain for the period from 1958- 61. Significantly, sales increased in all major classifications of goods. However, the most conspicuous gains were in gasoline station, apparel and drug store sales-allover 100% in the 1984-58 period. The smallest gain was in the food category but, despite moderately large increases in food sales, there was a net loss of 22 food stores in the 1948-58 period. In view of the creation of a number of new supermarkets in the area during this period, it appears certain that neighborhood food markets have undergone severe and often fatal competitive pressures.
Much of the overall increase in sales in the 1948-58 period (plus the indicated trend on into 1961) has evidently gone into existing stores since in the ten-year period there was but a net increase of 10 stores. During this period about 40 new stores were built, indicating that about 30 stores have been abandoned and have either reverted to purely residential uses or have been converted to service activity--an area in which Teaneck is becoming increasingly important.
Of interest is Teaneck's gain in the general merchandise, apparel and household furnishings category. Whereas sales from all other categories increased by 56 per cent from 1948 to 1958, the above sales category increased by 95 per cent, thereby illustrating Teaneck's growing degree of importance as a regional center.
There is no doubt that the giant Paramus centers have had a profound effect upon the older shopping centers such as Cedar Lane. But what seems to have happened is that it has suffered more in certain phases of retail than in others. Because of convenient parking at the centers and the wide selection of merchandise, housewives have shown a strong tendency toward "one-stop" shopping at the shopping centers. There is no question that the number of customers regularly doing business with Cedar Lane stores has dropped appreciably. However, the better Cedar Lane shops--particularly those with quality merchandise to offer and with personalized services as a keynote--have actually gone ahead in sales volume. As time goes on, a "settling down" process can be expected as the regional shopping centers more clearly establish their particular role in the retail picture and as the downtown merchants take a page or two out of their competitors' books.
Concurrent with the increasing importance of retailing in Bergen County has been an increase in the service business activity. An indication of this increase may be had from the business census which gives reports on selected services establishments for the County. In 1954 in Bergen County 2,754 establishments had yearly receipts of $71,251,000. By 1958 this had risen to 3,555 establishments with receipts of $117,754,000. Teaneck has captured a good deal of this business. In 1958 Teaneck had 163 reported establishments with receipts of $5,145,500. A comparison to Hackensack is useful to point out the importance of this section of the economy. Hackensack has 3.6 times Teaneck's retail sales but only 2.0 times that of Teaneck for receipts in selected services. The ratio of the number of establishments is about the same as for receipts.
The amount of service provided by the medical, dental, legal and other such professions in Teaneck cannot be accurately estimated. However, considering Teaneck's proximity to the local hospital and the county seat, it is likely that Teaneck will continue in the future to be a very attractive location for professions.
Bergen County in the post-World War II years has become an important wholesale trade area. In the 1948-1958 period the number of establishments tripled while sales increased almost six-fold. Teaneck also experienced an increase. The number of establishments rose from 8 to 35; sales from $194,000 to $28,000,000; and employees from 46 to 335. Only six municipalities in Bergen County have a greater number of employees in wholesale trade. Teaneck's central location with respect to the highly developed portions of Bergen County, and its superior road connections would indicate that this area of the local economy will continue to expand.
THE EMERGING PHYSICAL PROBLEMS
The study of the regional implications for Teaneck and its land use characteristics has revealed a number of problem areas within the Township as follows:
THE PRESERVATION OF RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOODS
Although the greater portion of Teaneck is composed of unusually fine residential development certain conditions exist in several areas which warrant remedial action. Some of the strip commercial developments exerts a blighting effect on surrounding houses due to the noise, increased fragmented and discontinuous. Some inter-mixture of deteriorated housing is found. And scattered public ownership of lands prevents more desirable consolidation of the neighborhood.
MULTI-FAMILY AND APARTMENT DEVELOPMENT PRESSURES
Several factors will operate in the future to increase pressures for more apartment construction in Teaneck; changing population patterns in Teaneck as well as the region, improved accessibility between Teaneck and the region, attractive apartment construction financing and the search for higher ratables in Teaneck itself.
STRIP COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT.
In spite of the relative concentration of commercial uses on several of the main arteries in Teaneck, a strip pattern does exist. This type of use pattern creates traffic hazards and severely restricts the traffic capacity of adjacent highways. It is incomparable with the "one-stop" shopping habits of people. Overzoning for retail uses invites an excess of marginal shops and dilutes the total retail market.
Regional traffic, as well as local traffic patterns, can be expected to become more intense and complicated. The Bergen-Passaic Expressway (FAI 80) will create some additional traffic on several Teaneck arteries. The desirability of curtailing local traffic access to one particular artery, Route 4, should be recognized. Arterial and local street traffic must be kept from fragmenting the neighborhood fabric.