Affluent Suburb with Direct Access to Manhattan
The City of Summit, located in Union County, is home to more than 21,000 residents who speak over 35 languages, representing an economically and culturally diverse community. Summit is a major transportation hub with 30-minute direct access to Manhattan, major highways and the Newark Airport. The City is made up of six square miles of tree-lined streets, open spaces and an active community-oriented business district. Summit’s public school system has been ranked consistently outstanding in New Jersey with more than 90% of its students college-bound, and Summit is also in close proximity to top-rated NJ private schools.
Summit, an affluent suburb, has long been popular with traders, investment bankers, and money managers. Gov. Jon S. Corzine lived on its moneyed north side when he was chairman of Goldman Sachs, and Jim Cramer, the former hedge fund manager who is host of the CNBC program “Mad Money,” is a current resident. Summit NJ Homes for Sale are exceptionally charming.
Nearly 20 percent of Summit’s residents work in finance and real estate, according to Business Week magazine, which last month ranked the city No. 6 on a list of American communities likely to be pummeled by the economic crisis. The Independent Press, a newspaper in nearby New Providence, recently published an essay by Summit’s mayor, Jordan Glatt, who wrote that a “powerful storm” was gripping the city and hurting, or “at least unsettling,” residents. He appealed to residents to help their neighbors.
“We’re a mill town, and the mill closed,” Mr. Glatt said a few weeks later in an interview at City Hall. “But we’ll get through it. We have a lot of real estate permits and investment going on. We may not end up with the same number of Wall Streeters, but we’ll have many successful people here.”
No one should cry for Summit. In 2005, the median household income was $168,045, with 14.4 percent of households earning above $200,000, according to Claritas, a private marketing research firm. Still, recent events have unnerved many who used to spend without limit, and the local merchants who counted on them. Most business owners here say that Summit has survived other painful economic downturns — the mid-’70s recession, the stock market collapse in 1987, and the aftershocks from 9/11 — always to see prosperity return.
A few, like John Bitici, a restaurateur, and Tom Keefe, a jeweler, believe the trickle-down impact of the financial crisis has yet to arrive at their own door. “Really, I haven’t seen a drop in business yet. Maybe a little drop on the most expensive wines,” said Mr. Bitici, the owner of Fiorino Ristorante, a downtown restaurant with loyal patrons who dine there two, three, even four times a week. “Maybe they haven’t gotten the pink slips yet. We have one gentleman who comes to our bar and takes some food home. One day he said, ‘Tomorrow I may be out of a job.’ But he is still working, and coming.”
On the surface, Summit looks robust. One day late last month, well-clad men and women lingered over lunch at sidewalk bistro tables warmed by the autumn sun. Ornamental grasses blew back and forth under an allée of locust trees on Springfield Avenue, the city’s commercial heart. Among Summit’s abundance of interior decorating firms, one had a display window made up to look like an opulent den, featuring a table with an ornate chessboard, velvet chairs whose cushions had needlepoint images of golden retrievers, and a bottle chilling in a silver bucket. The scene was captioned, “A Gentleman’s Retreat from a Hectic Day.”
“We have a smattering of lawyers and surgeons out there,” Mrs. Peer said. “But a large part of our market is watching and waiting.”
The Summit Chamber of Commerce is countering the softening economy with an aggressive advertising campaign, said Jan Martin, its chairwoman. In October, the chamber signed a contract for 2,214 cable television spots promoting the city and its retail stores. They will run from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31.
“If we just stay the course and don’t panic, we’ll get through it,” said Mrs. Martin, owner of the Summit Sampler, which sells antiques, home furnishings, gifts, and interior design services. “A lot of people are doom and gloom, but they are doom and gloom in good times, too. I’ve never had trouble making money — knock on wood. This sofa, $5,200, sold today.”
Cheryl Rajewski, a caterer in Summit, said her reaction has been to hope for the best.
“I just can’t worry,” Ms. Rajewski said while making last-minute preparations for a recent Thursday-night party. “All the husbands ask me, ‘How’s business?’ When Lehman closed, it did slow down a couple of days,” she said, referring to the financial firm Lehman Brothers. “And October has been slower than usual. But September was good and the phone has been ringing like crazy for November and Christmas. People still have to eat.”
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