Home Essex County New Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment Plan Approved by Montclair Council

New Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment Plan Approved by Montclair Council

by The Montclair Girl Team
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Back in October 2023, the Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment plan was approved with a 4-2 vote at the Montclair Township Council Meeting. The redevelopment plan entailed revitalizing the plaza while meeting sustainable development standards, building affordable housing, and access to a local grocery store. In November, the ordinance was met with two different lawsuits that were filed to stop the plan from moving forward. After this, a brand new ordinance was created — and the new plan was officially approved at the Montclair Town Council meeting on Tuesday, March 26th. Read on to learn more about the newest Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment plan in Montclair.

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The Newest Approved Plan for Lackawanna Plaza

The decision to greenlight the Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment plan comes after years of debate and public discourse. The March 2024 proposal, which passed on its first reading with a vote of 5-1, was largely a legal move in relation to two lawsuits filed over the plans alleging conflicts of interest, according to Patch. The proposal will now go to the Planning Board, and then back to the Council for a second reading and a public hearing, which will be the final approval. This ‘new’ ordinance is materially the same as what the Council approved in October 2023, it contains an acknowledgment of the legal conflicts that have held up progress on the project. The township also denies responsibility or wrongdoing and maintains that the original plans were properly adopted and approved.

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The Previously Approved Plan + Lawsuits Challenging It

Montclair residents both for and against the old plan shared their perspectives for over two hours before the council took its vote on Tuesday, October 10th, 2023. Residents in favor of the plan highlighted the anticipated benefits of the plaza, emphasizing the need to address more local necessities and employment opportunities in the area. In contrast, Montclair residents opposing the proposal raised issues about traffic, size, building height, flooding, and the preservation of the town’s economic diversity. The full discussion can be viewed here.

Montclair’s Lackawanna Plaza property owner and developer is David Placek, a Montclair resident and managing partner of BDP Holdings, a New Jersey-based real estate investment company. The plan highlighted bringing a grocery store, employment opportunities, affordable housing, and environmentally-friendly development. The plan also emphasized the design’s role in preserving the Lackawanna train terminal as it remains a central aspect of Montclair’s history.

The plan was to welcome five new buildings to the area, ranging from five to six stories, and reaching heights of 60 to 85 feet above street level. The project had to adhere to the township’s mandate that 20% of the 300 units meet state and local affordable housing standards.

The provision of a new supermarket was another key driving force behind the previously approved plan. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (“NJEDA”) identified the Lackawanna Plaza Area as part of a census tract group included in the 50 food desert communities in the state. Councilor David Cummings announced at the council meeting that Amazon Fresh is under consideration to replace the long-gone Pathmark but no formal actions have been taken on that since.

The Montclair Environmental Commission (MEC) had previously voiced support for the plan in a statement, as long as the redevelopment plan is committed to the sustainable objectives outlined in the Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment plan. Given the strong emphasis on sustainability in this project, the recommended strategy is to promote economic advantages through eco-friendly site-design, incorporating green solutions for stormwater management, and repurposing existing pavement.

Among the previously approved plan’s key initiatives was the incorporation of stormwater regulations from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, aimed at mitigating challenges posed by severe weather events. Additionally, the plan sought to reduce reliance on vehicle travel by maximizing the town’s transportation resources and encouraging walking and bicycling. Finally, the proposal underscored the adoption of both passive and active green building technologies, and ensured the redevelopment would support the utilities serving the area.

After this plan was approved, it was met with two different lawsuits. Per Montclair Local, One Greenwood LLC filed a complaint on November 27th against the Montclair Planning Board, the Township of Montclair, and BDP Holdings, challenging the ordinance approving the most recent plan. One Greenwood LLC also previously filed a complaint in June 2019 regarding the Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment application.

The second complaint came from Montclair Residents for Responsible Development (MRRD) on November 24th against the Township of Montclair and the governing body of the township, per Montclair Local. The same group launched a petition to scale back the development in January 2023.



History of Lackawanna

Before Lackawanna became a plaza, it was once home to the Lackawanna train terminal in Montclair. It embraced a new identity after its final run in the 1980s, transforming into a shopping mall known as today’s Lackawanna Plaza. This makeover brought not only retail and office space, but also a resource for grocery shopping in Montclair.

At the time, the Pinnacle Companies partnered with the Hampshire Companies to introduce the first set of Lackawanna Plaza developments within the area. Yet, the path to realization was far from straightforward. It wasn’t until 2019 that the Montclair Planning Board passed the proposal. That plan was never launched due to a lawsuit to stop the development and threats of destroying significant historical architecture and station platforms, a decision met with strong resistance from Montclair residents.

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In recent times, the mall has been designated as “in need of development” by a prior council ordinance since 2015, and is currently somewhat of a ghost town, marred by a history of multiple developers attempting to breathe fresh life into the terminal.

We will keep you updated with any other details surrounding the newest Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment Plan as they come out. In the meantime, follow @themontclairgirl on Instagram and TikTok for further updates, and sign up for our weekly newsletter here.

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