South Orange wins ‘Hot Town Showdown’

South Orange was recognized by New Jersey Monthly magazine for winning its four-week long “Hot Town Showdown” contest that began with 16 towns, presented by Kings Food Market.

New Jersey Monthly explained in a press release that they picked the 16 towns based on specific attributes. They evaluated input from real estate agents and the real estate market for information on climbing home prices and the length of time a home for sale stays on the market.

South Orange won best town in NJ due to community engagement and real estate values.
Megan O’Brien/Staff Photographer

“Being designated the Hottest Town in New Jersey is certainly a great honor,” said Mayor and Village President Sheena Collum. “Our town is a very special place that far transcends basic brick and mortar along with our competitive location near New York City.”

Collum said she believes that the spirit of South Orange explains its popularity.

“Our people and our values as a community are what I believe is driving bidding wars in an unprecedented real estate market,” she said.

According to the New Jersey Monthly website, South Orange beat out the competition by coming in first for every round.

South Orange defeated Glen Ridge in Round 1, Denville in Round 2 and Weehawken in Round 3. The final bracket was against New Providence, with South Orange ending on top.

On Oct. 1, the South Orange community celebrated with a party in Spiotta Park including hot dogs, hot wings and hot fudge sundaes. At the event, attendees collected donations and goods for Puerto Rico, raising more than $8,000.

“We as a community leveraged the outpouring of research to send goods down to the area that were stricken by the natural disasters,” said Steve Schnall, a member of SOPAC’s Board of Trustees for the South Orange Village. “One of our local businesses agreed to ship the goods for free.”

Schnall said this recognition is validation that this community is highly engaged and passionate.

In fact, one of the elements of the competition was based on community engagement and activities available to residents. According to SHU students, South Orange is an inviting town with notable eateries.

“It’s such a welcoming community especially for a Seton Hall student,” said Mikayla Castro, a senior nursing major. “Downtown South Orange has such diverse places to eat. My favorite places are BGR, the Dancing Blender and Pandang.”

Collum labelled her community as a “proud Sanctuary City”.

“Throughout our Village, you will see banners with the slogan, ‘Everybody Belongs Here’ and we try to live up to that motto through social and political activism, intentional integration, and human kindness,” Collum said. “This is our family and way of life. As a proud young alumnus who bleeds Pirate blue, I can confidently say that being home to Seton Hall University has been a tremendous strength in retaining and attracting residents to our town.”

Christina McDonald-Vitale can be reached at

Author: Christina McDonald-Vitale

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