Lackawanna Plaza Construction To Begin In 2019, Developers Say

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

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.

HISTORIC PRESERVATION, RATEABLES AND MORE

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.