February 11, the Planning Board approved the Lackawanna Plaza plan allowing for the demolition of part of the train station stanchions for new parking spaces and a reduction of 400 parking spaces normally required for this type of plan. The planning board's own supermarket design consultant pointed out that this parking variance would not be needed if the supermarket was an appropriate size for this downtown location and no larger than 35000 square feet. This approved plan now provides for a 29000 square foot supermarket with the balance of the 47000 square foot Pathmark space left without a the developer providing a plan.
The Planning Board received pressure for months from various sources to make a decision because some local residents just wanted a supermarket. Some stated that a compromise had already been given by the developer when the number of apartment units was reduced from 349 to 154. Immediately prior to the planning board vote on February 11, Lidl supermarket was introduced as the intended market, a German chain and competitor of Aldi and Walmart. Its very difficult for anyone as well as board members to sift through the facts and comprehend the implications of any complex decision in a high pressure environment. We will all see what the implications of this decision over many years.
Any developer has a strategy laid out by a professional team to ultimately obtain the goals for his property. Part of this strategy is to initially ask for much more than he actually expects then use board fatigue and resident pressure as advantages. Lackawanna Plaza is now much more valuable property with a 400 parking variance and is zoned for 6 stories and with a recommendation to consider up to eight stories in the master plan for land use policy. Recently, a Lidl representative said that he did not want to answer press questions because a lease had still not been finalized.
See this article for thoughts from a professional in preservation.
Details of Redevelopment Area Proposals
Council Email addresses, Meeting Agendas and Minutes
HPC Meeting Agendas
Planning Board Agendas