Montvale, New Jersey
A Symphony of Symbiotic Growth and Sustainable Planning
A town charting its course toward balanced growth through unique business strategies and a keen sensitivity to community needs, Montvale NJ remains one to watch
Amid an evolving landscape, Montvale, New Jersey, is a testament to adaptability and change. The borough’s resilience stems from its ability to transition from a corporate hub to a diverse mixed-use locale, maintaining a steadfast allure for residents and businesses. Joe Voytus, the Administrator of the Borough of Montvale, presents a vivid picture of this dynamic transformation.
“Montvale is a town that’s adapting,” Voytus says. “For many years, it was a corporate hub where the town swelled significantly during the day because of corporate entities like Mercedes and Toys R Us. We’ve had to adapt as some of these businesses moved out, shifting our focus towards mixed-use concepts. We’re reinventing our town center, blending retail, residential, and office spaces in one location.”
Scott Forman, the President of the Chamber of Commerce, highlights Montvale’s geographical advantages that continue to make it an attractive location for businesses. “Our proximity to New York City, the ease of access to the Garden State Parkway, the New York State Thruway, and the Palisades make us one of the most accessible towns,” Forman says. “We’re 30 minutes west of New York City, northward leads to farmland in Rockland County, and southward unfolds more development. This accessibility is a significant attraction.”
Echoing these sentiments, Michael Ghassali, the Mayor of Montvale, emphasizes the borough’s rich diversity and burgeoning business landscape. “Montvale is a small but vibrant town. We have residents from 55 countries who speak 27 languages. They come from diverse religions, backgrounds, and professions, adding to the borough’s multicultural character,” Ghassali points out. “Though small, we house approximately 375 businesses, revealing our ability to attract and retain diverse commercial entities. Companies like KPMG, Sharp Electronics, and Benjamin Moore chose Montvale because we have the talent, and we’re conveniently located with access to multiple highways.”
Reinventing Residential Spaces and Embracing Medical Excellence
As Montvale leans into its metamorphosis, its residential sector is significantly reshaping. Mayor Ghassali unveils the blueprint for a residential overhaul that aligns with the Montvale aesthetic while attentively addressing infrastructure considerations. “In the past 15 years, we have almost 1,200 units that are either built and occupied, currently under construction, or projected for completion by 2025,” Mayor Ghassali reports. “The mix of housing primarily includes townhouses and condos, with almost half being dedicated to assisted living and memory care.”
However, the housing boom brings with it challenges to the borough’s infrastructure. Mayor Ghassali admits that the increased demand for housing presents issues in areas such as water supply, traffic management, and school capacity. “We’re working with Veolia to facilitate the installation of a new water tower to support the water pressure, adding more traffic lights and ‘smart’ signals, widening intersections for easier access, and expanding our schools to accommodate the influx of families,” he states. “While we need more housing, ensuring smart planning to support this growth is crucial.”
Moreover, Montvale is making its mark as a medical hub, adding another dimension to its evolving identity. Mayor Ghassali notes the critical role of healthcare facilities in bolstering the borough’s revenue base and attracting professional talent. “Memorial Sloan Kettering has a substantial presence in our town with a 140,000-square-foot building. They also require ancillary services, leading us to encourage them to relocate these services to Montvale,” Mayor Ghassali states.
Collaborative Strategies: Boosting Workforce and Fostering Business Growth
Forman emphasizes that they actively address the widespread employee shortage through strategic workforce development initiatives. He affirms, “We held a highly successful job fair in conjunction with the Economic Committee, which engaged not only our local business community but also those beyond our borders.”
Forman also highlights Montvale’s unique appeal to businesses, facilitated by the synergy of the town’s key leadership: “I must stress that Montvale is probably one of the most business-friendly communities you’ll find,” he lauds, attributing this pro-business stance to a collaborative effort between Mayor Ghassali, Administrator Voytus, and the Economic Committee.
But Montvale’s approach to business isn’t just about reducing red tape. Mayor Ghassali underscores their readiness to accommodate companies’ unique needs, even when they fall outside the borough’s standard rules. He provides examples of the borough’s flexible stance on issues as diverse as smoking gazebos and the color of a company’s logo. “For us, these may be minor issues, but we understand that for them, they can be major. We cannot underestimate the importance of these accommodations,” Mayor Ghassali insists.
Navigating Tax Incentives and Bolstering Local Economy
Mayor Ghassali acknowledges the role of tax incentives in attracting big businesses to Montvale, a town where nearly a quarter of the tax base comes from corporations. “While we don’t directly provide tax incentives, we do link businesses with the state which does. The incentives are based on factors such as the number of employees, the amount of investment in the town, and a commitment to stay in New Jersey for several years,” Mayor Ghassali explains.
Voytus underscores the inherent allure of the town that keeps it from having to resort to additional financial incentives. “The desirability of our community is so high that we haven’t had to incentivize through PILOTs or other measures,” he says, adding that this lack of additional incentives protects residents and existing businesses from further burden.
Raffi Joukhadarian, the chairman of the Economic Development Committee, shares his all-volunteer committee’s role in engaging with local corporations. “We collaborate with the Chamber of Commerce to create opportunities for companies to interact, even organizing corporate roundtables for businesses of varying sizes. Our goal is to provide economic opportunities that allow companies to thrive and grow in Montvale,” Joukhadarian elaborates.
Healthcare Horizons: Montvale’s Medical Hub
Theresa Cudequest, a Montvale Board of Health and Council member, highlights her role in facilitating the town’s health-related endeavors. “We’ve recently been involved in planning medical facilities moving into town, ensuring everything aligns with medical requirements and codes. It’s thrilling to be a part of these businesses setting up shop in Montvale,” Cudequest shares.
When asked about the significance of collaboration in Montvale’s growth trajectory, Cudequest confirms its essentiality. “Collaboration is indispensable; without it, we can’t progress. The cooperation of all departments involved is paramount to achieving the best outcome for our town,” she declares.
Regarding initiatives to attract new businesses, Cudequest sheds light on the ongoing efforts to engage with existing corporations, understanding their needs and working towards maintaining their presence in Montvale. One successful initiative has been the development of the Shoppes at DePiero Farm complex, which includes Wegmans, in response to corporate demands for lunchtime options and spaces for employees to unwind.
She adds, “We’ve introduced a walking path and several restaurants there, with more to come in the marketplace. This area is essentially the heart of the corporate park and is readily accessible to employees. The feedback we’ve received so far has been overwhelmingly positive.”
Building the Backbone: Infrastructure and Growth in Montvale
Voytus, tasked with overseeing the town’s infrastructure, outlines the robust efforts to handle Montvale’s rapid development. “We’re seeing extensive work being done with the various utilities in town, from increasing the capacity of water lines to upgrading gas lines. It’s all part of a drive to ensure our infrastructure can handle our growth trajectory,” Voytus highlights.
Montvale’s potential as a ‘home office hub’ has risen with the nationwide shift towards remote work. Voytus explains that while the town hasn’t been directly involved in ensuring high-speed internet capabilities, entities such as Verizon and Optimum are on the ground. “When constructing residential units and mixed-use retail facilities, residents’ capacity to work from home is paramount. With more people, especially the younger generation, desiring to work remotely, this infrastructure is a must,” Voytus states.
As Montvale anticipates a population increase of approximately 25% in the coming years, plans for open spaces are also in motion. An exciting project is the 28-acre land purchase for walking trails and recreational activities. This move responds to community surveys highlighting the residents’ desire for more open spaces and trails. “As we welcome more people into Montvale, having recreational spaces for them is crucial. Guiding the development of these spaces is a key priority for us,” Voytus adds.
When asked about ‘controlled growth,’ Voytus emphasized its importance. “Controlled growth is everything. It’s about managing the town’s development in a manner that doesn’t disrupt our residents while also providing businesses with appropriate operating zones. This is the reason for our strategic land acquisition, zoning, and our planning board’s emphasis on design elements for incoming businesses,” he explains.
Charting the Course Ahead
As Montvale ushers in this growth, its success story is not isolated but the product of a synergized network of associations and collaborations. Mayor Ghassali describes the town’s affiliations with the county’s Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development, the State Chamber of Commerce, and the manufacturing associations, the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey being one of them. These interactions and exchanges between businesses and the town have fostered a tight-knit community and piqued prospective businesses’ interest.
Joukhadarian further elaborates on this dynamic relationship. He emphasizes how Montvale’s significant accomplishments have resulted in its name being prioritized in corporate searches for suitable relocation sites, an initiative managed by the state and county. Through a careful selection process, Montvale ensures that incoming businesses align with the town’s development blueprint.
Turning to the future, Mayor Ghassali paints an optimistic yet measured picture for Montvale. As plans for new developments are underway, a pause is envisaged around 2025. This break will allow the town to reassess its infrastructure and the needs of its residents and businesses and contemplate future growth. One critical aspect will be considering the demographic composition of new residents moving in. Factoring in details like the number of kids in school or rooms in rented apartments, Montvale will fine-tune its plans to align with its population’s needs.
The idea is to maintain a balance – to allow growth without compromising the quality of life and infrastructure. This is why the Montvale Planning Board has undertaken an expansive project to prepare an updated Master Plan for the Borough, with particular attention being paid to the elements related to Housing, Land Use, Open Space, and Recreation and Community Facilities. Given the town’s large one-acre and two-acre lots, there might be a temptation for more construction. But the Mayor cautions against overbuilding, reinforcing the need for a pause, a reassessment, and a more refined plan for the future.
AT A GLANCE
Montvale, New Jersey
What: A town charting its course toward balanced growth through unique business strategies, careful demographic assessments, and a keen sensitivity to community needs.
Valley Health System – www.valleyhealth.com
Valley Health System is a regional healthcare system that serves residents in northern New Jersey and southern New York. It comprises The Valley Hospital, Valley Home Care, and Valley Medical Group. Key services include cardiology, oncology, women’s and children’s services, emergency care, orthopedics, and neurosciences. Valley Health System’s Centers of Excellence offer comprehensive coordinated inpatient and outpatient programs and services to help ensure excellent clinical outcomes and quality. Centers of Excellence include cardiology, oncology, total joint replacement and neurosciences. Valley maintains affiliations and collaborations with the Mount Sinai Health System and with Cleveland Clinic’s Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute. For more information, visit ValleyHealth.com.
With the opening of a state-of-the-art new hospital in April of 2024, Valley will be well-suited to meet the healthcare needs of the northern New Jersey community for years to come.
The Valley Hospital in Paramus will provide an exceptional experience for patients and their families. Single-patient rooms will enhance patient privacy, safety and comfort. A flexible facility design, with such features as universally sized operating and procedure rooms, will enable the hospital to adapt to changing needs and medical technology. And a new location and larger campus will allow Valley to grow our community outreach, empowering and inspiring people to live healthier lives.
Atlantis Management Group – www.atlantismgmt.com
Atlantis Fresh Market is a growing chain of modern convenience stores bringing an unforgettable experience to the communities we serve across four states. We offer high-quality food and beverages, and daily essentials through our company-operated fuel facilities with cutting-edge rewards and delivery apps to make every day easy.
Sharp Electronics Corporation – global.sharp
Sharp Electronics Corporation in the U.S., headquartered in Montvale, NJ, is part of Sharp Corporation, a global technology company. Sharp aims to help consumers and organizations of all sizes enhance their performance and adapt to the future through innovative home and business products and services.