“The kids are coming out of the cities, and back to Mayberry. They want a walking town, they want some night life — but it doesn’t have to be constant — and they want safety.”
Those elements were not a given for this borough of 12,000 residents in Somerset County a decade ago, when Main Street was dotted with empty storefronts and some residential neighborhoods were suffering from neglect. An effort by borough officials to resurrect the downtown, combined with a close working relationship with New Jersey Transit, which designated Somerville a “transit village” — one of 33 municipalities in the state included in an initiative to encourage smart growth and development around train stations — has resulted in a revitalization of the commercial center that has attracted developers and home buyers.
A decade ago, there may not have been much to see in this Somerset County borough. But a building boom and downtown revitalization have changed that.
Living In ... Somerville, N.J.
When Audrey and Nick Perrette finished college, they followed a path many other young couples take: They moved into a rental while planning their future. The one-bedroom apartment they found was in Somerville, N.J., in one of the many new buildings that have been rising in the borough’s flourishing downtown. A month later they were engaged.
In July, after two years of renting, the Perrettes, who are now married and both 26, decided to make their move to Somerville permanent. They loved its small-city vibe, so they bought a three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bathroom house, built in 1920 on 0.13 acres, for $352,000.
“We weren’t ready for suburban life; we wanted to stay active and be able to walk downtown. And we didn’t need a huge acre of land, just enough grass so our dog can go outside,” said Ms. Perrette, the director of operations for her family’s data-outsourcing business.