Panelists included Montclair Township Planner Janice Talley; Redevelopment Architect Ira Smith from Smith Maran Architecture + Interiors; Professional Planner Keenan Hughes from Phillips Preiss; Traffic Engineer Joseph Fishinger from Brightview Engineering; Civil Engineers Peter Ten Kate and Selwyn Joy from Boswell Engineering; and Parking Expert Gerald Giosa from Level G Associates.
Ira Smith led the presentation, sharing how concerns raised by various community stakeholders were addressed in the revisions.
“Compared to what was last publicly shared, the project now is leaner, greener and has more robust Historic Preservation requirements,” Smith said.
Instead of plans to build 375 units, the revised plan shows 300 residential units with 20% designated as affordable housing. An additional 10% of the units will be reserved for workforce housing, down from the previous 15%.
The heights of all five buildings are shorter. Three of the five buildings were reduced from six stories tall to five stories.
“These are very generous step backs compared to prior redevelopment plans,” Smith said of the revised plan. “It’s lower and it’s less imposing on the neighborhood.”
Smith also addressed concerns about shadows over neighboring apartments and houses, saying the new plan will interfere with access to sunlight only a few days each year, for a very limited number of hours at the end of the day.
Smith also revealed the existence of a historic skylit passage, previously closed off to the public, that will be uncovered and utilized as part of the circulation route for the plan.
Keenan Hughes spoke to the greening of the revised plan.
“In general, we’ve gotten more specific about the landscaping requirements for each of the respective open spaces,” Hughes said. “For the main plaza, there’s a minimum of 25% of green space. [25%] shall consist of non hardscape, planted areas and also include a lawn area of at least 2500 square feet. Your feedback was saying that ‘we don’t want another pure hardscape within the downtown’ so we try to integrate as much greenery as possible.”
Hughes also showed an additional new fourth open space in the area of Toney’s Brook culvert, creating a triangular pocket park.
Montclair residents had raised concerns about the traffic study after the initial Lackawanna redevelopment plans were released, fearing congestion.
Joe Fishinger said the redevelopment plan’s impact on traffic would remain the same, even with the loss of 75 units.
“We did take a quick look at the reduction and confirmed that it wasn’t going to change the conclusions of the traffic study,” Fishinger said. “We did not do another formal report.”
The revised Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment plan is expected to be reintroduced at the next Township Council meeting on August 15, 2023.