The developer’s plan for Lackawanna Plaza will be presented to the Council for review this Tues, May 23 at 7PM in the town hall, 205 Claremont St. Here is the proposed development massing perspective at Grove and Bloomfield Avenues. An second view from above is here. It is important for Council members to be reminded what residents have said they wanted in this project.
Please plan to attend this meeting and speak. If necessary, you may view it on TV 34 but be sure to communicate with elected officials. Email addresses are on the town site.
Lackawanna Plaza is one of several areas in town which were designated “redevelopment areas” while the master plan was being reviewed between 2013 and 2015. The most controversial part of the original 2013 master plan draft was raising zoning heights in all business districts and eventually heights were reduced. However “redevelopment areas” and “ areas in need to development” were designated which allow for deviations from local zoning restrictions.
Many residents expressed concern about these designations. At that time, Mayor Jackson and other officials explained that this designation would allow the town to have more control. Since this is the case, it is the time to remind elected officials what has been already asked for by the public for Lackawanna Plaza during public outreach sessions.
This is the time to come out and insist that this project be a crown jewel to be proud of. Lackawanna Plaza can be an exciting and beautiful destination as well as attractive gateway to our downtown. Pass this email to residents and especially those in the 4th ward.
The proposal by Pinnacle/Hampshire would vastly overdevelop the site with bulky buildings adding 349 apartments in an already congested neighborhood, degrade the eastern gateway to Montclair, dwarf and disregard elements of the venerated historic train station, and shut the door to creative possibilities for a valuable amenity in the Fourth Ward and for the town as a whole.
Significant concerns about developer’s proposal include:
* Overly intensive development. The west and east parcels combined (7.5 acres) would have 349 apartments, 755 parking spaces, and 36,000 square feet of office and retail. The west parcel, with the historic station, would have a density that exceeds what zoning allows. This will bring traffic congestion and obstruct the historic setting and layout of the train terminal.
* Excessive mass and bulk. The buildings proposed for the west parcel (train terminal) are monolithic and completely out of scale with the existing historic structures. Deeper setbacks are needed and bulk should be drastically reduced.
* Insufficient common areas. More acreage is needed for common areas such as a train-themed playground, green space, cultural plaza and outdoor dining. These features could be a fabulous amenity to Fourth Ward residents and a destination for residents area-wide, making this a true legacy project. Presently, common areas are too small a component of this massive project.
* Lack of respect for the historic train station. This 1912 station, designed by William Botsford and on the National Register of Historic Places, should be the jewel in the crown – the most prominent architectural feature – of this redevelopment, yet it has been subjugated entirely. View corridors and sightlines to the terminal, particularly the monumental Waiting Room, are blocked or interrupted by the vast mass and bulk of the proposed buildings.
The plan has not adequately addressed how it will preserve and highlight historic components of the train station, such as the train station building, the train sheds, the track platforms, the steel piers that supported the canopies over the platforms, the horse trough, and the stairs to Grove Street. According to the Office of New Jersey Historic Preservation, the Lackawanna Station was once called the “ Handsomest and best arranged suburban railroad terminal in the United States.”
* Location of the grocery store. Consider putting the grocery store east of Grove Street instead of next to the train station’s historic buildings. That east parcel is not within the Town Center Historic District and may be a more appropriate area for a modern supermarket.
Part of the process for any development are meetings providing the opportunity for the public to say what they want in a project.
Below is what the public requested in community outreach meetings for this project.
* Make Lackawanna Plaza less of a barrier, and better connect it to the surrounding community.
* Create a vibrant place with a mix of uses that bring activity to the Plan Area.
* Promote redevelopment opportunities that create a positive fiscal impact for Montclair, which will complement existing uses in the vicinity and improve the streetscapes within the Plan Area.
* Provide a regulatory framework that fulfills the Township's vision for the Plan Area while accommodating market preferences and reasonable economic factors.
* Protect and enhance historic aspects of the Plan Area through preservation and appropriate new development.
* Coordinate redevelopment efforts for the entire Plan Area to minimize disturbance to surrounding residences and businesses during construction.
* Provide a land use mix that results in a sustainable positive fiscal and social impact for the Township of Montclair.
* Ensure that one of the uses is for a quality grocery store and encourage supportive food-related uses.
* Provide stores and services for local residents and workers while also drawing patrons from the broader community.
* Provide plazas and public gathering spaces at key locations, connected by walkways to and through the site.
* Provide mixed, multi-generational housing opportunities, with a variety of unit sizes ranging from small micro-units to larger three-bedroom units.
* Provide affordable housing, including workforce housing.
* Incorporate arts and culture into the redevelopment project, but do not compete with other redevelopment initiatives.
* Encourage shared parking in structures that are hidden from view.
* Create programmable indoor and outdoor spaces that provide for year-round multi- cultural and multi-generational events.
* Require high-quality design and building materials that reflect historic local design and materials.
* Reduce the existing block pattern with visual breaks and pedestrian connections through the Plan Area.
* Provide bulk and setback regulations that allow reasonable development but reduce building mass and minimize impacts on adjoining areas.
* Promote high-quality architectural design of new buildings that complements existing historic buildings in the Plan Area and vicinity.
* Create an inviting and attractive pedestrian-oriented atmosphere at the sidewalk level.
* Enhance the public realm by providing an attractive and welcoming pedestrian environment through active ground floor uses and public spaces.
* Minimize the amount of street frontage devoted to driveways, parking garages and loading areas.
* Preserve and adaptively reuse historic features and structures on the site.
* Establish view corridors that protect the visibility of important historic features. Mobility and Circulation
* Improve safety for all modes of travel and circulation - vehicles (cars, buses, taxis), pedestrians (patrons/shoppers, commuters, young and old), and bicycles - by providing clearly defined and distinct areas for all modes of travel and safe access into and out of the site.
* Provide multiple pedestrian connections to and through the Plan Area that creatively use lighting, landscaping and design to create a pleasant walking experience.
* Improve connections to train stations and transit service.
* Activate Grove Street, making it less of a barrier and more of a connector for both sides of the development.
* Minimize traffic impact through appropriate design of driveways and parking and traffic calming improvements on area roadways.
* Achieve economic benefits through green site design, including green solutions to stormwater management and use of pervious pavement.
* Reduce dependency on solo automobile trips by leveraging the Township's transit assets and encouraging walking and biking.
* Promote active and passive "green" building technologies.
* Ensure the redevelopment project is compatible with the carrying capacity of the utilities servicing the Plan Area.
* Evaluate Toney's Brook to determine if it can be daylighted and/or relocated as an open space asset.
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Details of Redevelopment Area Proposals
Council Email addresses, Meeting Agendas and Minutes
HPC Meeting Agendas
Planning Board Agendas