MONTCLAIR, NJ - The Montclair Historic Preservation Committee met on April 27 to hear presentations from a variety of individuals wishing to update their homes or businesses. These residents previously presented before the planning board but were referred to the HPC because of the historical significance of their home. Although the committee is unable to approve or reject these proposals, they can offer suggestions which will then be passed onto the planning board for review.

However, the first two items on the agenda were only presented to three HPC members and therefore was not considered a regular part of the meeting. Unless the committee has at least four members, the meeting is considered “off the record” until a fourth member is present.

Once a fourth member arrived, Landscape Architect David Lustberg was able to present his plan for the Seymour Street Redevelopment Area, specifically the Arts Plaza. He was referred to the HPC by the planning board as well.

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“We are here today to present a plan that we feel addresses all the comments and concerns brought to us,” he said.

As previously reported, The Seymour Street Redevelopment plan is expected to incorporate a mixed use plaza, located on Bloomfield Ave and along Willow Street and Seymour Street,  residential apartments, 18,000 square feet of retail space, a parking garage with 130 parking spaces and 10,000 square feet of performance space in the back.

Currently, designers have decided to break up the space into three distinct areas: the entry, event space and gathering area. Paving patterns, seating and function of the space were all addressed as well.

To start off, Lustberg explaining the details of the entry space. Colored pavers and wood seating along with additional landscaping were added to the design along with changes to the walls making them more curvilinear and more inviting. An entry totem has also been proposed which will serve as a way to display information about events. This concrete sculpture will be used to display flyers and other signage related to the arts center.  Benches are also built into the walls with various landscaping features such as Perennials and other native plants  as well.

“We are very excited about this design and we feel that these walls will be functional but also sculptural and will fit well in this promenade space,” said Lustberg.

The performance space is a flexible space with movable seating and overhead lighting that can be easily rearranged. Eight tables and 24 chairs will be arranged within this area depending on the amount of space needed during a performance.

The back of the plaza is designed to be a comfortable gathering space containing softer features with more landscaping to create a relaxing atmosphere. One interesting feature of this area is the small set of stairs that double as additional seating if a small performance or art class wishes to use this space.

Although members of the HPC were only required to offer suggestions to the architect, many had questions and ideas regarding his presentation.  

“Why can’t there be four chairs per table? I understand that these are small tables but I am concerned there isn’t enough seating,” said Kathleen Bennett.

Other questions raised by other HPC members were related to lighting, landscaping and handrails on the stairs.

Lustberg explained that many details have not been finalized yet but he will take into consideration all of their suggestions.