MONTCLAIR, NJ - Following Monday night’s planning board meeting, many questions and concerns are still left unanswered regarding the Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment Plan.
With plans to develop the historic Lackawanna Train station into a mixed use plaza containing a supermarket, 350 units of residential apartments, parking deck and open green spaces, residents as well as township officials have been concerned about the impact it will have on the surrounding areas.
Paul Grygiel LLC of Phillips Preiss Grygiel planning and real estate consultants, presented to the Planning Board an updated draft plan for this site.
“Our firm was retained back in 2014 and throughout the process to get to this point, there have been a number of meetings set up and held and certainly we are not at the end of the process yet,” said Grygeil. “This is a statutory review by state law to look at master plan consistency and to offer any other comments or thoughts on the plan.”
The plan calls for the redevelopment of eight acres of land, located along Grove Street. Currently, it is home to the historic Pig & Prince restaurant, the vacant Path Mark and the train station terminal building.
However, since the plan was first drafted, residents and town officials have become increasingly concerned regarding not only the destruction of many historically significant buildings, but also the impact such a large structure will have on the surrounding community. With increased traffic from not only the new residential buildings, but a 40,000 square foot supermarket as well, many residents have attended meetings to speak out against this project.
Following the presentation, the planning board had many questions regarding certain details of the plan especially the preservation of the historic elements of this site. Many also felt that 350 apartment units was far too many for such a congested area of town. Also, there is no mention of any affordable housing units within the new residential building.
While Grygeil said he understands everyone’s concerns and opinions, he could not specify which aspects of each historical site would be preserved or comment on the size of the supermarket.
Peter Van Den Kooy, PP, AICP, Director of Planning at Consulting & Municipal Engineers was brought in by the planning board to review the redevelopment plan in order to determine if it is well aligned with the township’s master plan. He was able to conclude that there are many inconsistencies in the current plan that should be better defined in order for it to reflect the goals and objectives of the master plan.
Some of his findings include a lack of sufficient language regarding the historic preservation aspect of the redevelopment.
“While the historical elements are mentioned, they are not as clearly defined in terms of what they are and where they are located,” said Van Den Kooy.
He also mentioned that there is a need for more specification regarding the supermarket size. Currently, the plan only sets a minimum square footage requirement of 40,000 square feet but does not have a maximum. It is also important to define the type of supermarket which will be implemented into the design as some large retail stores currently sell food as well.
Following both presentations, it was determined that the current plan needs many more refinements in order for it to coincide with the town’s master plan. A letter will be drafted and sent over to the township council explaining the concerns of the planning board along with their suggestions.
The township council will schedule the next hearing for this project.