Pleasantville, NY: A Walkable Village That Checks ‘All the Boxes’

Pleasantville, NY: A Walkable Village That Checks ‘All the Boxes’

Before discovering Pleasantville, NY a few years ago, Erin Williams lived in various communities in Westchester with her husband and their elementary-aged daughter. They bought a house in Ossining, NY but found the drive to Manhattan too time consuming. And getting around the city couldn’t be easier. After selling their house and renting in Manhattan for a while, they moved into a rental property in Tarrytown, NY in search of their next stop.

That’s when they came across Pleasantville, a village in the Westchester town of Mount Pleasant. There, the family found a three-bedroom 1880s Colonial home for $600,000 in a cramped multicultural neighborhood near the center of the village.

“It ticked all the boxes,” said Ms. Williams, 40, a graphic novel writer who appreciates the area’s accessibility, school system and community. “We love our neighbors. One blows snow into the driveway without asking and another, a Vietnamese woman, brings us cucumbers from her garden.”

Another attraction was the art scene. In the center of the village is the Jacob Burns Film Center which has been attracting moviegoers from Westchester and beyond for more than 20 years. Three of the five screening rooms have recently been renovated and there are plans to add a wine bar, said Denise Treco, the center’s marketing and communications director.

The movie center “put Pleasantville on the map,” said Hillary Landau, a real estate agent at Compass, and attracted a “very eclectic” mix of residents, including “creative types, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers.”

Her clients from New York City and elsewhere in Westchester, she added, “want to walk to town, to the train, and to the farmers’ market.”

That should be even easier in the fall, when a state-sponsored project to widen downtown sidewalks and create more pedestrian-friendly streets is expected to be complete, said Eric Morrissey, the village manager. And a 79-unit rental building currently under construction in the city center will offer more housing, both market and affordable, just a short walk from the train station. (Another proposed development includes a handful of single-family homes on a three-acre lot outside of the village center that was once owned by Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson.)

Loretta Chiavetta, an agent at Coldwell Banker, wanted her family to have the same small-town experience she had as a child in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, when she and her husband moved out of a Manhattan co-op 30 years ago. Because prices in Hastings were too high, she said, they visited Pleasantville at the suggestion of a relative. There Mrs. Chiavetta saw “children on the street and bicycles on the lawn” and was thrilled.

Her family settled in a three-bedroom 1890 Colonial house on Washington Avenue downtown, within walking distance to restaurants, shops, and the Metro North station. Ms. Chiavetta still lives there with her husband and college-age daughter, and now has many clients who want the same experience.

“There are so many from Brooklyn,” she said. “And I can understand why – the charm of the houses, the walkability of the village and the proximity of the city.”

Pleasantville covers less than two square miles in the Westchester County town of Mount Pleasant, about 30 miles north of Manhattan. According to 2021 census figures, the village has a population of approximately 7,400, of whom approximately 75 percent identify as White, 14 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Black, 4 percent Asian, and 3 percent Mixed Race. The median household income was $165,987.

The village is best known for its colonial-style homes downtown, but inventory also includes ranches, split-level homes, and Cape Cod-style homes on lots of one-third an acre or less. While larger homes on larger lots can be found farther from the village center, “You don’t come to Pleasantville to buy a lot and a pool,” Ms. Landau said.

Attached townhomes are available at Club Court, a development bordering a nine-hole golf course operated by Pleasantville Country Club, and at Enclave at Pleasantville, a high-end Toll Brothers development. Foxwood offers condos in a multi-building complex and there are garden style condos in Greenwood and Pleasantville Gardens. Cooperative options include Commons, Pleasant Manor, and Ledgerock Gardens. Apartment rentals include lofts along Washington Avenue and one and two bedroom units at the Atwood on Vanderbilt Avenue.

With low inventories, high demand and rising mortgage rates, this is a “very competitive time for buyers,” said Ms. Chiavetta, co-host of “The Real Estate Connection,” a local cable show about real estate.

The median selling price of a single-family home fell to $652,500 in April, from $784,000 a year earlier, according to a Coldwell Banker analysis of data from the OneKey Multiple Listing Service. That was partly due to lower sales in the high-end segment – and fewer sales overall – than last year, Ms Chiavetta said.

As of April, 16 single-family homes were on the market in the Pleasantville Postal Zone, including a three bedroom, one bath elevated ranch listed for $599,000 and a five bedroom, four and a half bath home listed for $3.999 million . Also listed were two three-bedroom townhouses (for $1.99 million and $1.050 million) and several condos ranging in price from $240,000 to $429,900.

Monthly rent for an apartment can be $4,800 for a loft on Washington Avenue or a little less than $3,000 for a one-bedroom apartment at the Atwood on Vanderbilt Avenue.

On a nice day, middle and high school students stroll from their nearby campus to Frank & Joe’s Deli and Black Cow Coffee Company on Wheeler Avenue in the village center. Diners fill the outdoor tables at Pubstreet and Fatt Root, an Asian grocery store recently featured in Westchester Magazine, while Brown-Bagger lunch on benches along Memorial Plaza. Cheese lovers praise Second Mouse Cheese on Manville Road. For casual dining, there is Pleasantville Diner at Memorial Plaza.

On Saturday mornings, the Pleasantville Farmers Market – considered by some to be the best in Westchester – draws crowds to Memorial Plaza. Popular annual events include the Pleasantville Music Festival, held this year on July 8 at Parkway Field, and Pleasantville Day, a celebration of the village’s food, goods and services in May at Memorial Plaza.

Popular spots for young families include the playing fields at Roselle Park and Soldiers & Sailors Park, and the pool at Nannahagan Park. Mountain bikers will enjoy five miles of trails at Graham Hills Park off Route 117. Indoor activities take place at the Mount Pleasant Public Library on Bedford Road and the Recreation Center on Marble Avenue. Elderly residents gather at the Senior Center on Clinton Street. For ping pong fans there is the Westchester Table Tennis Center on Tompkins Avenue.

About 1,635 students are enrolled in three schools in the Pleasantville Union Free School District. Bedford Road School serves students from Kindergarten through fourth grade; Pleasantville Middle School and Pleasantville High School share a campus on Romer Avenue and serve students in fifth through twelfth grades. Some high school students are from nearby Pocantico Hills, where there is no high school.

“The school is the focus here,” said Tina DeSa, the principal. “We take care of the kids, and that’s why everyone wants to live in Pleasantville.”

According to the New York State Education Department for 2021-22, Pleasantville High School had a 97 percent graduation rate and the student body was 73 percent White, 15 percent Hispanic, 6 percent Asian, 2 percent Indian Black and 4 percent multiracial graduates. The county-reported average SAT scores for the Class of 2022 were 618 in evidence-based literacy and 622 in math, compared to statewide averages of 534 and 533. The high school was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2021.

A 200-acre branch of Pace University is also located in Pleasantville.

It takes a little under an hour to get to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan on the Metro-North Railroad’s Harlem Line. A pre-purchased single ticket costs $14.75; A monthly pass costs $322.

Annual parking passes are available for $600 to villagers and business owners only. 12-hour and hourly parking is available for non-residents.

In the 18th century Pleasantville was an agricultural area known as the Manor of Philipseburgh. Early residents included members of the Sint Sincks and Rechgawawanks Indian tribes, as well as Dutch settlers and Quakers.

In the mid 19th century the village was known as Clark’s Corners. During the Civil War it was a subway station. Past residents include writers Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett, and actor Sidney Poitier. Co-founded by a former resident, DeWitt Wallace, Reader’s Digest magazine was headquartered in the village before moving to neighboring Chappaqua and later Manhattan. The Usonia Historic District, a proposed settlement designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1940s, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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