In the last few weeks there have been a multitude of articles published by The New York Times, Time Out New York and others that site Maplewood, NJ as an ideal suburb for those living in Brooklyn (and similar urban areas). This is great publicity, and, as a real estate professional its something I can personally benefit from. But, every time I read one of these features, I can’t help but wonder what about South Orange?
Journalists who do any sort of background research know that the towns are co-joined on many levels like municipal functions and a school system. They are often referred to as sister communities, twin towns and the acronym SOMA. One of the leading community organizations for both towns is the Community Coalition on Race and their logo includes both towns. Don’t they feel compelled to explore the other half of the “two towns?” Wouldn’t it be far more accurate for them to expose them together as South Orange and Maplewood?
They always cite the town’s diversity and cultural programs as top reasons to make Maplewood home. Yet, South Orange is equally diverse and is one of the only towns nearby to have a live performing arts theatre, state of the art movie theatre, an annual Blues Festival and the much loved “Giants of Jazz” event. Oh yeah… that’s all in addition to the Pierro Art Gallery and many arts workshops offered at the Baird Community center right in the center of town.
I am often asked by new home buyers about searching for homes in Maplewood. When I try to expand their circle a bit and recommend including South Orange I am often met with a blank stare. Once I show them around town they are mystified by how incredibly appealing it is and how they never had it on their radar.
We are proud to be twin towns. So journalists, I beg you to stop re-writing the same old, same old and take the extra step to find out what SOMA really means and the tremendous benefit it has for both communities.