Historic Preservation Commission digs into Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment
by TINA PAPPAS
for Montclair Local
The Montclair Historic Preservation Commission reviewed details of the Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment plan on Thursday, Feb. 15, with an eye toward preserving the sites historic character.
Chairwoman Kathleen Bennett said that the major site plan application, with variances, was heard in January and that the commission had made a number of recommendations.
The property is the site of a nearly vacant shopping center that includes the operating Pig & Prince Restaurant and a historic train station. It used to house a Pathmark supermarket, which closed its doors two years ago. The site plan calls for a supermarket on the west side of the property and a four-story multifamily dwelling on the east side adjacent to Grove Street, now a parking lot. The residential building will contain an outdoor pool and deck. The plan calls for maintaining open space and parking without impacting the size of the supermarket space and would also uphold the historic appearance of the original railway terminal.
The plan’s architect, Bruce Stieve of Marchetto Higgins Stieve in Jersey City, walked the commission members through the renderings for the plan, which includes an apartment building to be built on the property. Stieve, along with Brian Stolar, the plan’s developer from the firm Pinnacle, fielded questions.
Stieve presented a compilation of images from the plan, which he said took into account commission member’s suggestions from the prior meeting. He said the team had tried to “address as many of those comments and suggestions as we could.”
“One of the primary things that were discussed was a process to identify the historic elements of the site, that we were either going to reuse or relocate, or keep in place,” Stieve said, adding that a horse trough would be relocated to the new entry driveway.
“The suggestion was to put it in a more prominent location, so we looked at the plaza space and one of the things we thought was very interesting is that this is a welcoming place where people can gather,” he said. “So we found this to be an attractive location.”
Another historical item for preservation is the Pig & Prince Restaurant.
“That piece is going to remain in place as is the platform at the head of the train shed,” Stieve said. “The original structure and framing will all remain in place.”
Additionally, three existing storefronts between the restaurant and supermarket would have their frontages exposed.
Stieve added that while extending the track memory through the parking lot was not feasible for a variety of reasons, he suggested accommodating each end of the sidewalk for a paving pattern, with a distinct color and pattern, different from the sidewalk pattern of the remaining sidewalk.
“It would be leaving remnants of the structural system in place of the original train sheds as well,” he said. “As the retail component becomes active, this space will become more exciting.”
Stieve also emphasized that the facade’s existing retaining wall will be dressed up with concrete piers and brick facing. New stairs will be built from salvaged materials and/or material that matches the existing materials that are there now.
“Another thing the board asked us to do is to show the before image with the after image,” he said, adding that certain modifications would set up a formal facade look on the frontage of Grove Street.
Deputy Planning Director Graham Petto gave a rundown of additional recommendations toward the end of the meeting and said he would submit them prior to the Planning Board’s first hearing on the project, scheduled for March 12.
Among some of the commission recommendations arising from the meeting focused on modifying some of the bays on the eastern side entrances of the building to address that entry as well as the north entry to the east building to reuse the support structures. Also addressed was the entry to the tunnel from the parking lot area and the use of historic lighting globes in place of the 1980s globes. Replacing the glass railing with the metal railing on the east building was also recommended, along with a memory board with photographs in the plaza space, as well as a memory plaque on the eastern facade of the retail section.
Making a wider pedestrian area rounding the corner of Grove Street and Bloomfield Avenue was also recommended, including incorporating lighting into the corner at Grove Street and Glenridge Avenue, and retaining the corner urns.
“Activating the Lackawanna Plaza facade for retail, as well as the parking lot side to encourage that there is some entry from Lackawanna Plaza so it’s an active side of the building,” Petto said, adding that consideration of additional outdoor seating at the site, including an entryway tunnel through Lackawanna Plaza through to the parking lot area, was also recommended.