Lackawanna Plaza Construction To Begin In 2019, Developers Say

Lackawanna Plaza Construction To Begin In 2019, Developers Say

The article below was Published April 2, 2019 by Eric Kiefer,

MONTCLAIR, NJ — The rebirth of Lackawanna Plaza in Montclair is moving ahead, with plans to begin construction "later this year," developers announced Monday.

According to a joint statement from The Hampshire Companies and Pinnacle Companies, following recent approval from the Montclair Planning Board, the long-heralded redevelopment plan for Lackawanna Plaza is primed to take the final leap into reality.

The 216,772-square-foot, mixed-use redevelopment project will include residential, retail and office spaces (see below). In addition, developers have already landed a tenant to replace the vacant Pathmark supermarket at Lackawanna Plaza.

According to developers:

"The site will be anchored by a brand-new, 28,509-square-foot Lidl grocery store on Bloomfield Avenue. By bringing Lidl to Montclair, Hampshire and Pinnacle will return a grocery store to Montclair, filling the vacancy left by Pathmark in 2015. In addition to Lidl, the plan calls for 35,714 square feet of retail space and 21,032 square feet of office space. A 153-unit mixed-use residential building is also planned for the east side of the site along Grove Street."

There are plans to make 20 percent of the residential units "affordable housing."

Hampshire and Pinnacle said that the construction plan attempts to preserve the historical elements of a century-old train station at Lackawanna Plaza, which has been a major issue of contention from local opponents of the project.

One casualty of the project will be the mall that encases the train platforms, which will be razed to make more room for parking, Montclair Local reported.

Other concerns expressed about the plan have included pedestrian safety, the overall building footprints and flood control.

A lawsuit has been filed in Essex County Superior Court against the Montclair Planning Board and its chairman regarding the redevelopment plan for Lackawanna Plaza, Montclair Local reported Tuesday.

The area was designated as an "Area in Need of Redevelopment" in 2015. The previous supermarket to occupy the space, Pathmark, shut its doors that year to the dismay of many nearby residents.


According to Hampshire and Pinnacle companies, "significant steps" have been taken to preserve or replicate a significant portion of the station's original 1913 Grecian Doric style.

These steps include salvaging 21 existing steel columns from the train platform for usage on the building's façade, integrating train platform canopies into the roof of Lidl, restoring the iconic horse trough, preserving the historic waiting room and concourse, and creating a memory board and plaque at the entrance of the plaza to highlight the history of the site.

"It is rare for a developer to be given a chance to breathe a second life into a site that holds such a special place in a town's history," said Robert Schmitt, principal at The Hampshire Companies.

"We look forward to executing our redevelopment plan for Lackawanna Plaza to bring valuable community amenities and rateables to Montclair while preserving the aspects of the site that have made it so important to Montclair for over a century."

Along with the Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment project, Hampshire is currently making several additional investments in Montclair, the company stated.

Opening this spring, Hampshire and Pinnacle's 159-room MC Hotel, part of Marriott's Autograph Collection, will bring a "premium, full-service hotel" to Montclair for the first time since 1938.

To the east, straddling the border between Glen Ridge and Montclair, Hampshire is also constructing a 45,735-square-foot, "state-of-the-art" medical office building across from Hackensack Meridian Health's Mountainside Medical Center, which is scheduled to open in early 2020.

Fully pre-leased by Hackensack Meridian Health, the development will provide doctors and healthcare practitioners with medical practice space, developers said.

The 10 Best Supermarkets in the U.S.

The 10 Best Supermarkets in the U.S.

The article below was Published March 08, 2019 by David Landsel,

Some supermarkets offer great values, others focus on the very best product, still more work tirelessly to remain essential to their respective communities, and a very select few manage to do all of the above. Did your favorite (or favorites) make the grade?

10. Hy-Vee

On the first run-through, your typical modern Hy-Vee store might appear like any other supermarket striver, with outlandish prices on prepared foods that used to cost pennies (how much will America actually pay for a pound of potato salad before the revolution begins, we ask you), but trust us—if you haven't already, you'll likely end up falling hard for this employee-owned brand, based in Iowa and scattered around that particular bit of the Midwest.

First of all, the staff are often incredible at their jobs, going the extra mile without being asked. Then there's the store's own brand—we've walked in and picked up incredible, same-day, store-smoked ham at wildly reasonable prices, for example; they also throw great sales in their bakery, which is full of deliciously Midwestern stuff that will most certainly hasten your demise. Then there are the actual stores—it's luck of the draw, really, some are bright, shiny and enormous, others not so much. Still, even the oldest ones are typically tidy, and more cheerful than you'd expect. In some smaller Iowa towns, the store café is not only one of the better places to stop for a cheap and hearty breakfast, it's the absolute best place to overhear your fill of local gossip.

9. New Seasons Market

The vibe is all food co-op, the selection of local and regional product is off-the-charts, as you'd expect in this part of the country, and each store—most are in the Portland area—provides a pretty great snapshot of its neighborhood, thanks in part to a number of lures beyond the usual grocery shopping, including an excellent selection of prepared foods—some stores have all but full-blown food courts—and, typically, enough seating to keep plenty of people hanging around, from early morning kaffeeklatches to late evening confabs.

Prices can often be downright reasonable, considering the store model and the quality of what you'll find here. In a perfect world, all of America would be shopping somewhere as nice as New Seasons.

8. WinCo Foods

Take the warehouse aesthetic and some of the pricing, then shrink the floor plan down to a more normal supermarket size, and you have this employee-owned, fast-expanding chain. Starting out in Idaho, WinCo is winning over scores of new fans with their often very affordable in-store brand, and an emphasis on bulk discounts. (Oh, and they make a pretty good pizza to take home, too.)

With stores now open everywhere from the Washington/British Columbia border, all the way down (and eastward) to Texas, a quickly growing number of North American shoppers now have access to the WinCo experience.

7. Aldi

Fun fact—this German discounter, the estranged-ish relation to Trader Joe's, has been in the United States since the 1970s; it started out in the Chicago area, only rather recently becoming seriously aggressive about expanding to, well, everywhere. (It probably didn't hurt that a fierce rival back home, Lidl, is now here and opening stores.)

If you walk into an Aldi, and it all seems wrong to you—all that not so great lighting, the lack of amenities, the aisles stuffed with brands you've never heard of, take heart—the millions of Germans who spend their entire lives shopping for food at stores a lot like the one you're in can't be wrong. The payoff for enduring limited service, putting down a deposit for your shopping cart, and not ever having heard of most of the brands you're buying? Low, low prices. Good news: The chain is shelling out vast sums of money for store renovations, in an effort to make them nicer.

6. Whole Foods

Fascinating, isn't it, how quickly things evolved—not so long ago, Whole Foods was as good as it got, American supermarket-wise. Turned out, many of the things that made the stores so special were rather easily rolled out elsewhere; Walmart, for example, now sells more organics than anybody else. Better lighting, better design, more ambitious prepared foods, juice and coffee bars, full-service restaurants—turns out, everybody else can do that too. (By the way, has anyone noticed certain other stores now charging more per pound at their salad bars than your average Whole Foods? Because it's happening.)

Where does all of this leave the brand, now famously owned by Amazon? That's anybody's guess; there have definitely been tweaks, but at its core, Whole Foods is still Whole Foods, and one of its very finest assets—the relatively humble store brand, 365—still outshines most of the competition. (It competes very well on price, too.) Besides the ongoing integration for Amazon customers, we'd say that of the best things Whole Foods has going right now is their new 365-centric stores, where you can shop for quality product and leave the store having spent far less than you'd ever have expected. We feel like they should be rolling out a lot more of these stores. Hopefully America agrees.

5. Publix

They're expanding rapidly out into the Southeast, as far north as Virginia, even, but if you ask us, the best examples of this employee-owned brand are easily found in the parts of Florida where people appreciate Cuban food the most, because who doesn't love a few crispy croquetas, or the odd potato ball, before tackling their weekly shopping? Which highlights the one thing we don't love about this revered brand, which goes back nearly a century in Florida—not all stores are created equal; some are the "food palaces" founder George Jenkins dreamed of, back in the very beginning, others are average at best, and poorly managed. Two things you'll find in every Publix store though, the two things that matter most: A wealth of store brand product, easily some of the best in the business, and—can't forget this one—the deli, which turfs out an impressive amount of good prepared food.

4. Trader Joe's

Some people go to church on Sunday, others worship at the altar of TJ's, and it's not hard to see why. First launched in Southern California back in the 1960's, the chain famously packs very nearly a supermarket's worth into a space smaller than some modern convenience stores. This means that you can do a weekly shopping run here in a very short period of time, that is, if you can avoid being distracted by the absolutely overwhelming amount of store brand product that you won't find anywhere but here.

While some lament the state of the fresh produce (on that front, not all stores are created equal), or the fact that pretty much everything else is already packaged, it's hard to think of another store that manages to marry low prices so successfully with high quality.

3. Lidl

Never heard of it? Oh, you will, and sooner than later. Many a European shopper depends on this fiercely budget German supermarket chain, a strong competitor with Aldi back home, and now, here too, looks like. The concept is similar to both Aldi and Trader Joe's—smaller footprints, lots of private label, lots of low prices—but for Lidl's American debut, the company went almost overboard, throwing wide the doors to a series of light-filled, reasonably-organized stores, making grocery shopping that much more pleasant for anyone on any kind of budget, all up and down the East Coast, from New Jersey to the Carolinas.

Studies have shown that for each market Lidl enters, stunning grocery price wars have ensued—fingers crossed they'll make it out into the rest of the country. The rest of us are waiting for those cheap and good croissants, which come out fresh daily from one of the best value-priced supermarket bakeries in the country right now.

2. Central Market

Two years after Whole Foods went public in 1994, lucky Austin, Texas, hit the grocery store jackpot once more. This time, it came courtesy of the state's best-known supermarket brand, H-E-B. With almost Europe-worthy retail design, an overwhelming amount of fresh produce and exceedingly good prepared foods, there should be Central Markets everywhere—sadly, you'll have to travel to one of the big cities in Texas and see for yourself.

Millions of Texans live within a reasonable drive of one of these terrific stores, with their cooking schools, in-store entertainment, proper coffee bars (and an in-house roaster), plus excellent lunches and dinners served on premises. Central Market is not just a place to buy food—it is damn near a destination. This is the store that Texas should have exported. Maybe there's still time.

1. Wegmans

For what seemed like forever, you had to be from Western New York to appreciate this family-owned and operated chain, revered by fans for, well, for being a really great grocery (and liquor) store, with its own, competitively-priced store brand, a pretense-free disposition toward the finer things, those terrific in-house sandwich shops, and surprisingly good sushi bars.

Over the years, the company has been doing a slow march outward from their relatively obscure homeland, snapping up real estate in the more affluent suburbs of the Eastern Seaboard. Today, Wegmans has earned the loyalties of shoppers everywhere from Boston and Buffalo on down to Virginia, opening up stores that make some Walmart Supercenters look petite—next up, they're tackling North Carolina. Perennially ranked as one of the nation's best places to work, Wegmans also ranks, again and again, as one of the nation's favorite supermarkets. No argument there.

Lackawanna Development Approved, Lidl Supermarket Named as Tenant


The article below was Published Feb 12, 2019 by Jaimie Julia Winters,

The Lackawanna Plaza developers got their development and the Fourth Ward will get its supermarket, but it will come at the cost of the train platforms at the historical 1913 Lackawanna Train Station.

Monday night, Feb. 11, saw the Montclair Planning Board give final approval to developers Pinnacle and Hampshire Cos. for their redevelopment plan, the culmination of more than a year of testimony spanning 15 public meetings.

That plan includes 154 units of housing on the east side of the lot, as well as a supermarket, medical office and some retail. The developers plan to keep some of the historical elements of the historically designated train plaza and refurbish the former Pathmark, closed in 2015, for the new grocer tenant. But in order to make more room for parking, they will be razing the mall that covers the train platforms.

The platforms, covered in glass and turned into a mall in the 1980s, were a sticking point with preservationists, who pressed for their adaptive reuse citing state and national historical designations and the town’s designation of the site in a historic district. The developer claimed that the train platforms lost their historical significance with the mall conversion, but were willing to reuse the steel columns of the platforms as decorative features throughout the project.

The developers also announced Monday night that supermarket chain Lidl (sounds like needle) would be the grocer tenant. Although the lease has not yet been signed, Lidl representative Nicholas Buckner, who attended the meeting, cited Montclair’s pedestrian friendliness and described the town as an ideal candidate for the company’s expansion throughout New Jersey.

Board member Carmel Loughman, reading from Lidl’s website, pointed out that the Germany-based grocer chain had rehabilitated older buildings in Europe including train stations. Buckner said that is not what they were looking to do in in this case, that the current plans before the board “is what we want” and allows for the parking requirements they require.

The need for parking was another issue, as the developer proposed 459 parking spots for the entire site, nearly 440 less than the required 833. The developers argued that number was based on suburban areas lacking nearby transit options. The developers plan to implement a shared parking plan model with the use of valet parking from the medical office lot six days a week with Propark managing the parking lots.

After a motion by board member Martin Schwartz to deny the application, with Carmel Loughman voting in favor, the board voted against it. The board then voted in favor of the development, with Schwartz and Loughman abstaining.

At the start of the meeting, councilwoman Robin Schlager recused herself from any further action on the application due to her position on the council. In May of last year, the entire council approved a resolution requesting the planning board to consider the current Lackawanna redevelopment plans “favorably and with dispatch,” stating the area needed a supermarket.

Robert Schmitt of Hampshire told the board that the journey has been frustrating, “listening to public comment that we had no intent of bringing in a supermarket,” adding there was never a “smoke screen.”

He said Lidl supermarket would be a “perfect fit” for the Fourth Ward. “They have better pricing than Aldi, and are a smaller format grocer,” as was suggested by the board’s supermarket expert, he said.

Lidl will be about the size of Montclair’s Acme at 29,000 square feet. Other tenants, who have not yet been named, will take up the remainder of the 47,000 square-foot-space.

Although management will be brought in from other stores within the company, Lidl will be hiring locally, Buckner said.

Lidl is well known in Europe, opening its first store in 1973 in Germany, with others in the U.K. and France. In 2017, the company moved into the U.S. market, boasting more than 50 locations and several in New Jersey.

Historic preservationists, who sought to incorporate the train platforms-turned-mall into the plans as the supermarket itself, were disappointed by the board’s decision. Historic Preservation Commission Chair Kathleen Bennett said after the meeting that the planning lacked the vision to preserve the site in its entirety while giving the area a much-needed supermarket. An adaptive reuse of the trains sheds into a grocery store could be a boon for Montclair, she said.

“It’s a sad day for historic preservation. It didn’t matter if we had 2,000 people testifying on the historic value of the site and the fact that it’s on three historic registers. The chairman didn’t see it. It’s his opinion that the sheds are not historic, we proved without a doubt that they are historic. These decisions are supposed to be based on fact. The board didn’t have the vision to see that it would have been unique,” she said.

Schwartz said he could not support the plans because the “master plan calls for historic preservation and not massive parking lots.”

Chairman John Wynn called the plan a compromise noting the developer is preserving most of the historical elements and that he “did not see the value in the train sheds. The developer is stuck, we need to allow the developer to provide parking and is already asking for much smaller than what is needed.”

Board member Carole Willis said that the board was not in the position “to force” that a supermarket be built inside the train platforms.

“Personally, I do not see how how everyone is going to get what they want,” Wynn said. “It’s private property, using private funds. The applicants have the right to develop.”

The developers will retain the waiting and ticket area now home to the Pig & Prince restaurant, and will restore a horse trough, the Grove Street stairwell, a baggage kiosk, sIx entrance piers and large pylons on the Grove Street bridge, and will place plaques describing the history of the station on the horse trough and along a pedestrian walkway.

Some of the train platforms will be incorporated into the design, with a set of covered train platforms incorporated into a glass-facade entrance to the supermarket and retail areas.

Seventy-four of the 98 train platform columns or stanchions will be kept in place. Eight will be relocated for use in a covered bus stop and at the entrance of the Grove Street tunnel.

Twenty percent of the housing will be dedicated as affordable.

The board attorney suggested that a restriction be placed in the resolution approving the plan that the historical aspects included in their plans and the parking management be maintained.

In January 2018, the developers downsized their plans from 350 units to 154 and from a the 65,000 square foot supermarket to 44,000. Talks with ShopRite to move in fell through as a result of the smaller footprint. The developers at the time said finding a supermarket company to fit the smaller size could prove difficult.

“We are now moving forward will get a full scale supermarket with a fair amount of historical preservation. I think in the future, we will see vast improvement to the Lackawanna mall we see now,” William Scott of the NAACP said after the meeting about the group’s advocacy in getting a supermarket back into the fourth ward.