Montclair, NJ – It will not only be home to a future grocery store, anticipated to be the largest one in Montclair, but Lackawanna Plaza, site of the former historic Lackawanna Station, will also be home to a restored train that once served commuters at the station.

A former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western (DL&W) commuter coach — an electric Pullman M.U. that has been preserved as part of the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum‘s collection for 37 years – has been returned to its home state of New Jersey to be restored and then permanently displayed in Lackawanna Plaza, as part of a community-oriented redevelopment project in Montclair, owned by BDP Holdings LLC.

Train car 2628 returned to New Jersey and awaiting restoration. Photo: Michael DelVecchio, Tri-State Railway Historical Society, Inc.

The historic train – Car 2628 – was acquired by the museum in 1985 and was part of its collection of more than 40 pieces of historic railway equipment. But when galvanic corrosion began to compromise the train’s roof, the museum transferred the historic train to non-profit Tri-State Railway Historical Society, Inc. to be professionally restored. In a plan developed and orchestrated by Tri-State Railway Historical Society, Inc., David Placek, Managing Partner of BDP Holdings, acquired the train car and will fund its restoration which will be completed in the Morristown & Erie Railway shop in Morristown, NJ. The restoration project is estimated to take 12-24 months to complete. Once the train is fully restored, Placek plans to display the DL&W Car 2628 at Lackawanna Plaza, a former train terminal where the original car once served commuters for more than 50 years. Lackawanna Plaza is being redeveloped by BDP Holdings LLC and its anticipated completion is sometime in 2024. At that point, the train will be installed on the property.

“Bringing the restored DL&W 2628 to Lackawanna Plaza is going to take the project to a whole new level,” said Placek. “Once Lackawanna Plaza is redeveloped, it will be home to the township’s largest food market, as well as offer a wealth of affordable housing and environmentally friendly buildings and landscaping. And once we install the train car, it also becomes a place where people can see a piece of Montclair’s history as they climb aboard DL&W 2628. I want to thank everyone at the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum and Tri-State Railway Historical Society for helping us bring this amazing piece of history back to the Montclair community.”

The DL&W 2628 has extensive historical significance and is arguably “the best surviving example of a Lackawanna motorcar,” according to Richard King, President of Tri-State Railway Historical Society, Inc. DL&W 2628 was built in 1930 by Pullman as part of an order of 141 electric multiple-unit commuter coaches that ran off a high-voltage direct current system designed by NJ resident Thomas Edison’s General Electric Company. The Railcar operated for more than five decades, passing through the ownership of Erie Lackawanna, Conrail, and eventually NJ Transit, finally retiring in August 1984.

“Dave Placek is the right person in the right place at the right time for all the right reasons,” says Mike Del Vecchio, Director and past president of the Tri-State Railway Historical Society, Inc., who also serves as the project leader, history consultant and coordinator for Tri-State. “In nearly 40 years, none of the surviving “Edison Electrics” have been restored until Dave came along. We look forward to installing the restored car in Lackawanna Plaza sometime in 2024 and celebrating this grand and famous fleet.”

“We feel so grateful to have had a significant piece of history – DL&W 2628 – in our collection for nearly four decades,” said Otto M. Vondrak, President of the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum. “We are deeply appreciative of our partners at the Tri-State Railway Historical Society for their collaboration in returning DL&W 2628 to New Jersey and providing the best possible setting for historic interpretation. We also thank the team at BDP Holdings for making the transportation and restoration possible.”

For more information on the historic train car, visit the dedicated webpage here.

8 replies on “Historic Train Car 2628 Will Come Home To Montclair’s Lackawanna Plaza”

  1. How exciting! I road those wicker seat train cars to and from Lackawanna in the early 70’s!

  2. Frank, you want to take any guesses on number of proposed units in the new plan? 200? 250? He’s doing a lot of endear himself to the township, there is always a price to pay. Will be very interesting to see how the NIMBYs feel about this one. You get your supermarket, I bet he’ll even preserve the entire train shed, but how many units in exchange? Six stories for sure. I bet the initial application is 300 units knowing he’ll have to negotiate down.

  3. The train shed issue is long settled. The Council, the Planning Board, the courts and the court of public opinion all agreed the train sheds are not historic. Therefore, there is no public preservation benefit to trade on. He can’t trade on something that has been determined does not exist. If he choose as the property owner to preserve some of them, for whatever reason, he can’t be given any land use consideration.

    As of right, which you know well, he can build 6 stories and I have no problem with that height here. Of course, the Planning Board will posture a lot because they have not landed on what is an appropriate height for this neighborhood.

    Parking is no longer an issue as the BID has decided there is now a glut of parking capacity downtown and we are clearly in no rush to open the the Midtown Deck…and we have already discounted the rates for the top floor. The open court case is more about parking, mass, etc.

    If he trades on an additional story or two in exchange for, say, open space or strong pedestrian/bike amenities, I’m sure he will make a strong case.

    I would not be surprised at 200 housing units especially if he does 20% affordable or workforce priced units. However, I expect his plan will be a unique “zone within a zone” that reshapes our C-1 here. In short, I think he will surprise us with another, as yet to be announced element.

  4. The original landmark train station is historic in its entirety…. sheds and all no matter who has decided what for whatever reason. Here are the Secretary of the Interior Standards for treatment of public historic properties on the National Register.

  5. frankgg,

    Your own organization, the Montclair NAACP, said they were not historic. Mr Pelham said the preservationists like yourself had your priorities twisted. Preservation is about action, not words, and simply comes down to what will be preserved for the future. Our local institutions concluded, after considerable fact finding, public input & one expert’s obfuscated testimony, that the train sheds were no longer a historic part of our future. The only remaining authority to decide otherwise is Mr Placek. It is his town, too and has sole responsibility as the property owner over the property’s historic legacy. I will just amuse myself watching the Council and the Planning Board chasing the coattails of his commitment to preservation, whatever that ends up to be.

  6. Mr Placek is a good person. He is aware of the historic components and I’m sure that he will do what’s right. Sometimes preservation for the future also includes covering up elements or putting them away for the next design.

  7. Mr Placek appears to, in a short time, demonstrated many qualities any town would want in a developer.

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