Montclair Planning Board – The Lackawanna Redevelopment Saga Continues


The Montclair Planning Board held a special meeting on May 14 to move the currently stalled application over the redevelopment of the Lackawanna Plaza project.  The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) expressed serious concerns over the removal of the train shed, which had been remodeled into an atrium in the 1980s in the redevelopment scheme that turned the Lackawanna Railway Terminal into an indoor shopping center with an attached Pathmark supermarket.   But Brian Stolar, CEO of the Pinnacle development company, indicated that the HPC’s opposition to the removal of the shed would make it all but impossible to build the sort of supermarket that today’s grocery chains demand.

The facade of the Lackawanna terminal train shed

Stolar said he still hoped to find a workable solution that would preserve the building’s historic character and allow a grocery store to take up residence in the complex.   He even hinted at plans to add a water element to the horse trough and possibly make a working fountain out of it.  But he said that preserving the metal columns of the train shed was out of the question, insisting that grocery stores would have a hard time designing and placing shelves and aisles around them.  He also suggested that the train shed included glass and several beams of 1980s vintage that were welded onto the original columns, and he noted the railroad tracks were covered by the floor and “create more depth,” resulting in smaller stores facing inward, a design that he suggested led to the failure of all but two of them.  The resulting façade, Stolar concluded, was not attractive or appealing.

Stolar also added that the open-air market idea was a “non-starter,” saying it would be useless during the winter months and no one can afford to rent such a space for only five to six months out of the year. He also dismissed the idea of two separate parking lots, because he thought that would be too confusing for supermarket customers. Several such ideas had been bandied about at the HPC’s April 26 meeting.

Planning Board members took a jaundiced view toward Stolar’s testimony.  Martin Schwartz said Stolar had made such assertions without having presented any witnesses or clients, and he asked him if he’d heard and reviewed other ideas for how to reuse the atrium.  He also expressed a desire to know who the prospective tenants of the new grocery store might be.  Stolar replied that he had reviewed ideas for the atrium, but he refused to divulge the identities of the prospective clients, because there was no one ready to sign a lease for a building that hasn’t been redeveloped yet.  On the subject of the old Pathmark’s size, Carmel Loughman opined that the size of the store obviously worked for Pathmark during the chain’s more profitable days.  Stolar countered that it had always been an underperforming location in the Pathmark chain. Board Chairman John Wynn responded by saying that the store had in fact done well, but the roof was always a problem for the Montclair Pathmark Location.  As an attorney for the store who had done contract work with the proprietors, Wynn said the leak in the roof could never be fixed and that the problems would have been solved if they had the ability to repair it.

Vice Chair Keith Brodock tried to provide Stolar with the chance to come up with an alternative solution after board member Stephen Rooney insisted that Pinnacle and Hampshire, Pinnacle’s partner, could do more to save the train shed.  Brodock suggested alternative designs that included a two-story grocery store, a store on top of a parking garage, or vice versa – a parking garage on top of a store.  Stolar said a two-story grocery store might work, but when it came to the ideas for a parking garage-and-store complex, he drew the line. The former solution, he said, was unworkable, and the latter would cost too much.  Stolar also ruled out a subterranean garage, saying it was impractical.

Complaints about Pinnacle’s proposal to demolish the rain shed just kept coming, though.  David Greenbaum of the HPC insisted that the train shed could be used for a produce section or a dining area in the supermarket, similar to the setup in Newark’s Whole Foods in the former Hahne’s building.  If parking or loading was a problem, he suggested that the parking lot could remain on the eastern parcel of the property and the passageway under Grove Street could be used to allow customers to enter the store, as had been the case when Pathmark was open, or it could possibly used for merchandise deliveries.  The latter idea did not get a positive reaction from Stolar.

Public comment was still generally in favor of a new supermarket.  James Cotter of Cloverhill Place said he hoped to present input from himself and his neighbors in preserving pedestrian safety and their quality of life and supported the HPC’s effort to maintain the historic character of the Lackawanna Terminal.  William Scott, however, had no time for such concerns.  He said the historic value of the train shed took a back seat to economic development for the Fourth Ward, and he said it was long overdue for a working supermarket and new housing with affordable set-asides to be built there. Urging that the project be approved, Scott said it was time for Fourth Ward residents to be treated no longer like second-class citizens.  His comments were well-received from the audience.

There were only two other witnesses.  Engineer Kevin Webb presented diagrams showing how tractor-trailer trucks could enter the loading dock off Glenridge Avenue, which he proposed repositioning by joining it to an 831-square-foot addition in the back of the building.  He suggested scenarios in which trucks could either approach the loading docks from Glenridge Avenue eastbound or Glenridge Avenue westbound, using complicated turns to avoid the edges of the street while briefly encroaching on the adjacent property to the west or backing up Glenridge Avenue from Grove Street without having to encroach on the adjacent property.  Board members agreed that Webb should take a closer look at pedestrian safety, especially with regard to the post office across the street.  Barton Ross, the board’s architectural consultant, told the board that while the design could keep the supermarket and some of the train shed for an urban-style market or seating area or maintain the atrium as it is, he said his favorite idea was to leave the train shed columns in place and let motorists park cars beneath them.

The board carried over Lackawanna Plaza for a special meeting on June 18.  While the Lackawanna redevelopment plan continues to be hashed out, the area around the terminal is showing more signs of life.  The once abandoned but since completed ten-unit apartment building at 194 Bloomfield Avenue is finally open for rentals, with both units in the adjacent wooden-frame house at 192 Bloomfield Avenue – one of them affordable – also ready for occupancy.

The 10-unit apartment building at 194 Bloomfield Avenue, its apartments finally for lease; 192 Bloomfield Avenue, with two units, is visible on the left.

On the subject of affordable housing, the board reviewed pending affordable housing policy referred by the township council that recommended preferences for Montclair residents.  The board recommended that there should be latitude in how affordable-housing preferences should be defined, and it found the proposed changes to the township’s affordable-housing policy consistent with the master plan.  It also recommended a rewording of the terminology to clear up various issues and inconsistencies.

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  1. The developer spun quite a tapestry of BS last night. They are making no attempt to reuse the train sheds. It is clear that Mr. Stoller has no interest in this concept and is looking to build the ugliest, cheapest big-box store possible. The use of the trusses as light fixtures is a joke.

    The area of the train sheds is more than enough to house the supermarket. If the area is too large the end facing Grove Street could be an open porte cochere, or the west end additional retail. The notion that a split parking lot wouldn’t work is nonsense. The current configuration of the site has a split parking lot (across the street no less) and the site was a successful business model for 3 decades. The current proposal is careless and unimaginative, and quite sad that the planning board is even considering it.

    We are letting a “potential tenant” of a supermarket, who has no stake in our town, dictate what happens to our historic architectural heritage.

  2. In addition to demolishing 100% of the front facade, the developer’s latest scheme is to demolish 60% of the back facade to fit the tractor-trailers. So, they are demolishing the train sheds for more customer parking in front AND more room for trucks to unload in back. The Chair said his first-hand, intimate knowledge (as an executive of Pathmark) was that the roof had an ongoing & insurmountable water-leaking problem. So, the roof sucks, most of the front & back facade is coming down and they are going to push the building out to within 1 foot of Glenridge Ave sidewalk.

    An architect on the Planning Board said solving the problem of preserving the sheds and having a large grocery store is an architectural challenge at the level of a 3rd-year architecture student. Best line of the night.

    The developer now admits they can’t make a “supermarket” (his defintion) happen, but just a smaller “grocery” store. And best of all – and the entire Township Council and the Montclair History Center should really love this one – the developer is bringing in a historic preservation consultant who will testify the train sheds are no longer historic.

    We installed a plaque of appreciation to The History Center for preserving the train sheds back in 1980’s. I guess that plaque will have to be discarded, too. See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya.

    What is really ironic is the silence of our elected representatives – the Council, Freeholder Gill, Senator Gil, et al all – who voraciously championed saving the Upper Montclair Train Station which only had 15-20% of its historic fabric left. But, in their defense, that was a separate “community”. We now are Balkanizing Montclair into separate “communities” and with separate & distinct public goods.

    Yes, redrum, it is quite a “sight” we are seeing.

  3. The developer’s lawyer said they had yet to locate the easement agreement with Essex County for the existing pedestrian passageway under Grove Street. This application is in the site plan approval phase and no one knows if the planned restricted access complies with the easement agreement. If the agreement can not be found, it seems prudent for the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders to direct a replacement agreement be written. And shouldn’t the ECBoCF insist the easement require the passageway to be open to all of the public for any of the planned commercial uses?

  4. Mr.Scott, of the Montclair Fair Housing Commission, testified last night that if this landlord needed to demolish some historically valued concrete and steel (think back to Mayor Giuliani wanting to demolish & The High Line) for a grocery store, then we must do it.

    This is the very same Mr Scott who is currently championing a rent-control ordinance to protect residents from overly-greedy landlords.

  5. Frank, Mr. Scott’s comments last night were incredibly disingenuous and ill-informed. It’s not going to cost the developer much to relocate the store from the store structure, currently existing, to the trains sheds, currently existing. I don’t see the overwhelming need he expressed to demolish a historic structure for the sake of pushing ahead the construction of 30 affordable rental units to go to people who do not live in Montclair and who will not be paying any taxes as tenants. Considering this project will further the gentrification of the 4th ward, Scott’s support of the project is suspicious at best.

    Last night was a sideshow. A complete sideshow.

  6. Mr Scott’s is not uninformed. Just the opposite. Nor do I think he is disingenuous. To me, Mr Scott has always been one of the biggest & public proponents of development. He believes the 4th Ward always gets screwed out of their fair share of the Township’s economic prosperity and services. Our downtown economic development strategy is the biggest opportunity in decades for a significantly higher and proportionately larger economic share for 4th Warders.

    I don’t see that he has much use for past history or shares any concern for the interests of other wards. He is a forward-thinker, with a laser focus, who favors hyperbole to make his points.

  7. I do disagree, as you can imagine. Bad development doesn’t do anyone any favors, except the developer, who stands to profit from it. A poorly planned project that is rushed for the sake of opening a supermarket will not have the same benefits for the 4th ward as something more thoughtfully conceived.

    Lackawanna Plaza is the 4th Ward’s major architectural asset, and there is more to be gained by preserving it than hastily tearing it down.

  8. Following is not directed at you redrum.

    Montclair’s approach to setting the parking requirement for all new mixed use projects applications uses very zealous, but not uncommon minimums.

    The ordinance requirements are onerous. The Township has the option to accept an alternative called a shared parking plan. It, as the name suggests, based on sharing parking from a common pool of spaces on site. Due to varying schedules of demands of each use over the avg day, retail can park in the daytime and residents in many of the same spaces at night.

    Following this approach, the applicant projects the peak parking demand at the PEAK HOUR, on the PEAK DAY, in the PEAK MONTH of the year…then adds a 5% buffer. That amounts to 105% of peak/peak/peak demand. Typically, for site like Lackawanna, this peak occurs in the December pre-holiday period.

    This then becomes the minimum required number of parking spaces a developer has to build.

    The developer builds all this parking capacity based on what will happen in the December pre-holiday period. But, that capacity is there all year long; month in, month out. It doesn’t matter if only 60-80% is used in any other month. It doesn’t matter that in the hours on either side of the peak hour, demand also drops off by similar percentages as monthly does. That is what is built.

    In this case, as surface lots. No parking decks.

    The Lackawanna application is proposing to build to 117% of demand. Yes, there is extra, extra capacity in the peak/peak/peak period.

    Imagine the vacancy rate of these surface lots at the other times of the year. That’s bad land use. It even worse because of this bad land use is in the dense downtown & transit core. It becomes tragic if they demolish the historic train station to build this crazy, excess capacity. And that’s if they find a grocery store tenant.

    That’s if today’s grocers need all 44,000 sf. instead of the more prevalent 30,000 sf.

    This application has always been about parking. This is why they need all that parking.

  9. And the Planning Board is applying the same, obsolete suburban parking mindset used in the Montclair’s 1968 Conceptual Lackawanna Urban Renewal proposal. 50 years ago! Let’s mark this milestone anniversary this year, too. Dumb and dumber. That’s what can happen when we don’t want to learn from our mistakes. Gimme the grocery store. I want it. Now.

  10. Train stations seem preservation worthy but storage sheds? They’re unattractive, even by shed standards, and what’s the historical interest when actual train run through town. Will we fight to preserve “automobile storage sheds” when we’re all using transporters and hovercrafts? Insisting on grocery store in same location where previous failed and with others nearby is dumb too. Glad advocates are not insisting on another radio shack there. Dumb debate all around. Actually makes me sympathize with developer

  11. They were never storage sheds. They are more accurately canopies over the former train platforms.

    Thie developer is a corporation created from a partnership among other corporations. Corporations are not people. I would suggest your empathy for a corporate is misplaced.

  12. “I think it shows a lack of respect for the community that has patiently for four years waited for a food source,” Baskerville said. “The plan was sound. Brian has done a good job presenting a good balance [between] density, preservation, housing, a supermarket and listening to the community. This could drag on with no end point. Enough is enough.”

    – 4th Ward Councilor Baskerville, from today’s Montclair Local article

    No disrespect Dr Baskerville, but Hampshire/Pinnacle doesn’t have a grocery store tenant. This is what is dragging on. Without the tenant, they really can’t finalize the design. Hampshire/Pinnacle was the one who in the middle of the hearing process went out and got a new parking consultant and then didn’t present the consultant. Hampshire/Pinnacle has been working on this design for 2 years and they still keep modifying it…in the middle of the hearing process. No disrespect Dr Bakserville, but you need to follow this application a little closer than arm’s length and relying on hearsay. Let’s step up your game.

  13. Here we go again…It’s the 4th ward “we’re minority victims without enough cars to drive to Shoprite and are getting gentrified out, so we don’t have to follow town laws that don’t help us” (in this case local preservation ordinances) v. more well-off Montlclair whites saying “we must restore this no longer used, but historically designated train station to fully celebrate and respect Montclair’s illustrious past.”

    Mr. Scott has turned it into just this kind of “moral” debate as he called it and therefore another tale of two cities. Scott said: “Not once did I hear preservation of a community. I have only heard preservation of a building.”

    The town Councilors are already starting to use this 4th ward supermarket pressure to try and steam roll over local preservation laws they don’t really care about. Laws they only give lip service to at election time. And I bet the developer will use this “give me my supermarket” pressure to try and force the Planning Board to approve what he wants.

    It looked like he was just waiting to see which way the wind was blowing before starting to respond to the HPC from their last meeting. But those Planning Board people didn’t just roll over. They didn’t appear ready to just give him a pass. Hard to tell who wins here, or do they split the difference.

  14. redrum, this goes to your previous point about the sideshow soapbox moments.

    I always love the Council’s political CYA mechanizations when it comes to this development.

    It is one year since the public dust up between the Mayor and Councilor Baskerville. You might recall the Mayor’s “holding feet to the fire” venting back then over the slow pace in reaching a plan. He not only questioned the developer’s dawdling, but also made thinly veiled comments directed at Council Baskerville and the Council’s Development Review Committee as an obstsacle.

    Councilor Baskerville’s retort? “I think that sometimes we present things in a certain way, the community begins to perceive things that may not be accurate, because it hasn’t really been that long a period since this body made up our minds what we wanted to do.”

    This quote is definitely worth reading a 2nd time.

    That was a reference to their holding out for the Mayor’s pet idea of a new municipal complex in Lackawanna (that wouldn’t fly) as the pot in this pot & kettle exchange.

    So, the Mayor first plays the “enough is enough” card and now Councilor Baskerville, with her long memory, plays the same card.

    And yes, to get out of this predicament, there will be no problem for the Council to throw historic preservation under the bus…in a heartbeat. Let’s hope the Planning Board is of an independent and thoughtful mind.

  15. My design solution would to be to use the existing footprint of the old Pathmark only. in order to leave the train sheds as a public space. I’d create a multi level glass skinned “hangar like building” with two levels of parking from the street level, (and truck docks for the market) then, a couple of floors of supermarket and a green parklike roof with seasonal outdoor dining. Something looking vaguely like this to juxtapose with the landmark station structure that should left in tact…”Faux Historic” looks bad next to real historic. The views of NYC would be fabulous and the building would glow at night… like a bacon. Nowhere near Lackawanna plaza would be good to excavate to make lower level parking or anything because Toneys brook flows underground past it. The eastern parking lot was a lake. The new supermarket is such an opportunity to make Montclair Center fun and pop and the market should be big to best serve the community. Make it glamorous!

  16. Frank Rubacky is possibly so tired of hearing me say this like a broken record… I really think that Montclair has a cultural legacy of fine old buildings that must be repurposed and preserved when feasible. But what I would like to see for the new buildings are technological glass boxes and spires that glow in the dark at night. That would look so cool and interplay with the NYC Skyline. If the new buildings are going to block some valuable skyline views, do it creatively as an aesthetic composition. Today, REVIT designed buildings are creative glass skinned constructions because fake masonry panels don’t last long enough as well as looking anti aesthetic. I’d like to see the new buildings dazzle instead of playing “dress up” to look old.

  17. I never tire of your posts frankgg. I might not share your views at times, but they prod our imaginations. There were numerous comments Monday night to the lack of imagination with this project. Redrum pointed out that Lackawanna Plaza is the 4th Ward’s architectural anchor. I would argue that, commercially, its is the only one. At this one intersection, there is the train station and Mullen’s Livery bldg – with the 3rd Ward’s contribution of the Crawford bldg. It is a unique 360 snapshot of Montclair as it was 100 years ago. What is being built now will not be around a 100 years from now. Historic preservation as a major public policy will also not likely be around if this council and like-minded future councils have their way.

  18. Why was there never a parking ordinance enforced for restaurant row on glen ridge ave? Seems like Crosby, Fin, salute, and mish mish were given a hall pass. No? This is the first example I’ve ever seen of valet parking that uses side streets for spaces. Did someone turn a blind eye when these applications were entered? Seems like a lot of time and energy are being put toward traffic flow and sufficient spaces for LP, but there’s an existing serious issue just up the hill.

  19. Thank you Frank. I do not believe that “nothing” has been said about preserving people or community in the conversation about preserving our historic buildings. Its the people that shaped the buildings and foster their legacy. I have a very strong, proactive and informed point of view regarding the issue of preserving a community in place within an existing social fabric. Its very important for me, especially for the Fourth Ward where I was born and have many life long friends. The notions I hear about affordable housing in Montclair seem to me to be painted with too broad of a brush. There seems to be a lack of understanding that the current policies of affordable housing really don’t preserve Montclair’s community within its own social/neighborhood fabrics. Instead it drives long standing residents out of their neighborhoods, privileges “gentrification” and provides affordable housing to people on long waiting lists from elsewhere. If there has been some adjustment to this dynamic, its possibly getting too late and possibly not enough. Those of us who feel that the much needed supermarket should remain in the Pathmark’s original footprint and that the sheds should be a multi purpose community market are very strongly advocating for a change thats a good fit and positive for the community, because it would offer local ‘people” (not out of town corporations) outstanding and creative commercial opportunities, that would be more characteristic with what Montclair is all about.

  20. frankgg,

    I’m not following. The “nothing” sentence refers to Mr Scott’s comments?

    Mr Scott’s views represented not only that of the Housing Commission, but by the round of applause they received, a large contingent of 4th Warders present. Their “community” clearly puts economic development as a must have & an issue of class equity. Historic preservation is, at best, secondary and I suspect that they just fine if the 4th Ward gets the shorted on their fair share of historic protections. And remember, as the 4th Ward votes, so votes the majority of the Council.

  21. There were maybe a dozen or so residents at the meeting, I wouldn’t go so far as to say they represent the majority of the 4th ward. It was clear that those present wanted a supermarket to open quickly. Of the public comment received, only Mr. Scott’s was against historic preservation, the others (two?) were in support it. The gentleman that spoke on behalf of the Cloverhill / Grove Terrace Block Association stated they were in support of preservation of the sheds. It is unfortunate that we have arrive at this conjecture. The planning board wasted a considerable amount of time and are now using the perceived desperation of the “4th warders” as an excuse to overrule historic preservation and destroy the ward’s only historically and architecturally significant structure.

    The developer, of course, is basking in it. Desperate residents and a confused planning board make for hasty approvals. Hopefully that won’t be the case.

    There is also no guarantee that the future grocery store will be “affordable.” What if Kings or something similar is the only tenant who ends up being interested in the space?

  22. Yes Frank, I’m referring to Mr. Scotts comment, “Not once did I hear preservation of a community. I have only heard preservation of a building.” Its my whole message about preservation – Preserving existing streetscapes, neighborhoods and the neighborhoods’ social fabric. Finding new economic solutions so that residents aren’t forced out. Preserving the Train Station Landmark is an excellent opportunity. I’ve made this point at the last HPC Meeting on record and to the press several times. I wish that Dr. Baskerville, who is a friend that I admire, would find a 4th Ward spokesperson with expertise in planning and architecture instead of making confusing statements. She is an excellent Medical Doctor but unfortunately the 4th Ward has lost and still loosing too many AMERICAN historical landmarks and its even bad economics.

  23. You are correct about the 4th Ward representation at the meeting. However, if you include Councilor Baskerville’s position & subsequent comments, I think I’m on safe ground as to the prevailing majority viewpoint of the 4th Ward.

    The application was characterized as being at an impasse. I assume that status is because of the revised HPC response to the PB’s referral. The applicant will now attempt to negate that with expert testimony that what is being demolished was not part of the historic designations or is no longer historic. The Planning Board members hear a “He says/she says” from experts and the public.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a 3rd testimony from a recognized historic expert – maybe even one that is local & has served Montclair’s interests well over the years. Maybe the Montclair History Center would like to weigh in soon? Beats sitting silent on the sidelines watching.

  24. Further to the issue of excess parking, the Township’s 2015 Parking Study found that the 27-space Greenwood Ave (Crane Park) lot adjacent to Lackawanna Plaza and the two dozen or so Glenridge Av on-street spaces by the post office had consistent availability (25-50%) at the same peak weekday demand period as Lackawanna. The study was conducted from mid-October to mid-November. Pathmark closed 11/16/15, so its a fair indication of demand without an active Lackawanna shopping center. More excess parking capacity from a disinterested party to the application.

  25. I’m not clear why some Councilors are acting like everyone else is tying to delay and tie this project up now. Developments take time to do them right. Didn’t the Council first try to bring the entire town government down to this site but ended up spending like 2 years with this developer on that approach before giving up? I remember there was that residents committee that met first and told everyone it was a great idea – one stop shop government. Then some fiscal consultant came out and announced it would be a great win for the township to do this. So what happened to that plan?

    Regardless, why is their finger pointing now at the Planning Board, the preservation people and everyone else just when things look like they are finally coming to a head with decisions?

  26. It may be difficult for the Montclair History Center to weigh in, Frank Rubacky. Is its executive director married to a Hampshire executive?

  27. I don’t know who anyone is married to. You raised the issue so is it so?

    My understanding is that the MHC Executive Board calls the shots. They could designate an alternate if there is any perception of a conflict of interest.

  28. “Corporations are not people.” Nice hippy sentiment, Frank, but people own corporations, and I (perversely) sympathize with the people that own the corporation trying to turn Lackanything into something useful, profitable (obviously), and less ugly against “must have grocery store!” and “save the canopies/sheds!” constraints. Do you imagine families visiting the redeveloped, historically intact site saying, “look kids, these canopies are where people in olden days stood while waiting for trains.” Kids: “Like we do when we wait for the train at Upper Montclair?”

    Train stations may be worth preserving, and maybe train lines with interesting footprints (ala High line), but what’s interesting or beautiful about outbuildings like “sheds” or “canopies?” Just don’t see it.

  29. lacamina,

    I understand you mindset more than you realize. This has been the prevailing mindset of our Township for some years now. The Council mimics this. I think the trend is driven by 3 things: increasing diversity, a wave of political progressiveness, and long-time residents reaping the benefits of the market.

    I understand that historic way-finding signs & water-activated, horse trough styled kiosks are economically more efficient and are better educational tools in giving the who, what, when, where & how. I’m sure this could all be put on some location-driven streaming app that offers ultra high definition images. That horse trough kiosk with a hi-def display would then be kicking’ it. Anyway, same concept as planetariums and the night sky.

    This corporation will likely divest itself of its Lackawanna investment once leased because that is what real estate investment corporations do.

    There is a corporation and owner that I do have deep empathy for – and I’m sure that kid in your above example was wearing their logo:

    The Mara Family, owners of the New York Football Giants. They are dedicated to the local market, live here, try to put the best product out on the field and make a fair profit. They have to deal with malcontents who think an offense that has yet to score more than 20 points/game in the last 3 years should retain/preserve its quarterback. I cry in my beer every week during football season.

  30. Saving the horse trough is interesting. It was obsolete the moment it was built. It’s primary historic symbolism is to contrast Montclair’s shift away from a rural transportation mode to cars and trains. That we’re preserving this over the station is kind of an amusing take on how preservation has shifted to a Disney-like interpretation.

  31. Why did it take so long for the apartment building at 194 Bloomfield Avenue to finally be open for rentals? Thank you.

  32. Within the longstanding community, there are taxpaying “Hippies” whose sentiments should be weighed in on as well, in order to maintain Montclair’s unique, irreplacable character.

  33. How to create a temporary grocery store to address the immediate need? Seems like the Lackawanna Plaza grocery store would take a couple of years to get sorted out and redeveloped and the neighborhood still goes without a grocery store.
    There must be a way to create an emergency “pop-up” grocery-store/food vendor(s). That way the community is served without waiting for a new building to be built. Here’s just an idea… something like the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side or like the cities’ communal markets in Italy,
    Looking around the immediate vicinity of Lackawanna Plaza a solution could be…(I’m just trying to put ideas out there) There’s 180 Bloomfield Avenue, an available 5000 sqft space (thats what the listing says) where Don Miller painted his MLK Freedom Mural. Across the street on Bloomfield Avenue, there’s that vacant wall where the housing complex is. Pop-up sidewalk market vendors could be parked there when the market is open. Temporary shoppers’ parking could be set up in the open land on Bloomfield Ave at New Street. Or what about a pop-up market at Glenfield Park? The Catchings Center? There must be some place(s) to set up temporary market(s) so that the neighborhood no longer goes without a food store. Thats an important social responsibility that must be addressed ASAP.

  34. I know you’re just trying to put ideas out, but I think you are missing what the Councilor Baskerville’s “community” wants. It is an issue of driving there.

    The developer’s projections say that 4 out of 5 households drive their cars to the new GROCERY STORE. (He said not to call it a supermarket because it won’t be big enough to be that. I think when we demonstrate our ignorance by calling a grocery store a supermarket it only serves to shut down his ability to listen. But, that’s JMO.)

    Anyway, 4 out of 5 driving. That will be the testimony. The other 1 out of 5 will either use mass transit, hire cars, or walk.

    There are numerous supermarkets, at all price points, all within 8-12 minutes drive. A more convenient supermarket is not possible. A grocery store is. Councilor Baskerville keeps confusing people with her terminology. Maybe Brian can straighten her out before she speaks again?

    Anyway, this is about convenience. Time. A “food convenience desert”, not a “food desert”. To maximize convenience based on the car-based mode of getting around.

    The market place has shown a grocery will not come into this space as is. There is doubt that it will even with the new, adjacent housing.

    This plan offers very, very little as incentive to a grocer when you think about it. There is not enough density to justify a supermarket. I said this all along, but everyone wants to ignore the numbers.

    That’s the great thing about Montclair’s diversity, we have diversity in stupidity. One of the better consumer retail consultants used to live in /practice from town. I suspect there are many other good ones within 45 minutes drive or a train ride away. Maybe like other serious afflictions, we should get a 2nd opinion? Maybe having the PB Chair act as the sole retail expert to the Township is not a really good idea?

    My favorite logic the PB has embraced is the applicant’s argument over their expertise. Hampshire, Pinnacle’s partner, supposedly knows shopping center tenant’s businesses because they are their landlords for a while. So, the argument is a landlord who leases commercial uses is an expert in these uses. This is the spectacular argument that Mr Stolar has used and the PB has accepted. The next time a PB member needs a medical 2nd opinion, they should just go to Mr Plofker! That’s the logic! Hugs and kisses all around.

  35. LOL…grazie…baci a tutti!
    Yes, I believe that we haven’t fully understood the confusion and contradictions in terminologies regarding the food store. I don’t think it will be like the Pathmark or the type of food market that we’re all imagining. (I’ve always shopped at the Pathmark… loved it) The same goes for the affordable housing scenario. I don’t think its what the community expects or understands. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t the affordable housing amenities open to anyone in NJ by regulation, rather than serving people from Montclair first? I had heard mention that there would be affordable housing exclusively for Montclair residents… a really really good thing, but I see no language about that anywhere on line. Frank, could you possibly explain it a bit more?

  36. Frankgg,

    Yes, our affordable housing ordinance waiting list does not give a preference to Montclair residents. The Council is in the process of changing this, but I do not know if this would impact Lackawanna.
    Not believing in coincidence here, I suspect the new rules will apply.

    Based on the applicant’s proposed smaller and smaller grocery store footprint and their willingness to take down more and more of its facade, I suspect this site Plan may change again. The developer has this one-time shot of using the existing “up to 6 stories” zoning and then it reverts to the new 4 story zoning. While Pinnacle’s sweet spot is residential development, Hampshire’s is commercial investment and the associated return on investment. The West parcel has zero new commercial. In fact, it has a smaller commercial component than exists now. So, I have to ask why Hampshire would invest in this parcel as proposed? Maybe it got such a good purchase price that simply re activating the uses gives them an acceptable ROI. Maybe the delays in approving this have an upside? All I know is this application is about creating a two hundred twenty six space surface parking lot and retaining a crappy, one story cinderblock building. It’s just an unusual plan for developers known for big.

  37. I try to follow a policy of not singling out members of our municipal bodies for individual criticism or praise at the expense of other members. My posts here and elsewhere have not always adhered to this policy and as such, are unfair and imbalanced by my standard. Further, what I believe the Planning Board may think or doesn’t think of this revised Lackawanna application is based on some outdated statements or conjecture. I think everyone’s thinking and insights, myself included, have evolved from where we were last December. I apologize for not recognizing this and any offense I created.

  38. Frank, I am truly appreciative for your attention to details of the regulations. I wouldn’t be able to understand the process and steps correctly without your posts. You are correct and a voice that I trust. Grazie!

  39. Congratulations Frankgg on your Preservation Service Award from the Montclair HPC! A well deserved recognition of your efforts and so appropriate in Montclair’s sesquicentennial anniversary.

  40. Thank you Frank! Thats all thanks to the Don Miller Family for generously donating Don’s working model of the MLK Freedom Mural that he did for the National Library in Washington… The Montclair Rotary, Linda Cranson and the Montclair Library all made it happen. It was just an idea that I had that took ten years to achieve.
    I’m wondering where your Preservation Service Award is, Frank! Soon I hope!

  41. Downtown Montclair’s suburban classification is a thing of the past, but we are having difficulty accepting it.

    Our Master Plan treats downtown as urban although it falls just short of giving it the official moniker. We zone at urban density levels. We have removed the housing density constraints on the smaller parcels to realize urban densities. We just added higher densities & more intensive uses to the adjacent blocks. We will soon have 7 downtown parking decks for over 2,000 cars. We talk about urban streetscapes and our desire for new buildings to provide continuous “street walls”. We encourage activating the downtown day & night throughout the year. We light it up like a urban center. We learn about the urban heat island effect & green rooftops because most all open space downtown is limited to asphalt & concrete.

    This Council’s land-use consultants Phillips Preiss Grygiel and Clarke Caton Hintz called downtown urban. The surrounding streets are classified as urban arterials & urban collectors. The County has relented and is adding a traffic signal at Midland because the days of a suburban pace & courtesy to pedestrians in crosswalks are gone. Even the Montclair Business Improvement District dropped the “where the city meets the suburbs” for being obsolete.

    The developers are arguing against using the suburban designation to receive the benefits we bestow on an urban core. Even if those that argue that downtown has not matured to the level of older urban centers will, in the not too distant future, accept without caveats its urbanity.

    All agree it should be a well designed one.

    If we want a well-designed urban core and not a mongrel, we must acknowledge this rite of passage from a suburban downtown to an urban center.

  42. “compris!” (s’il vous plaît excuser ma faute de frappe!)

    Oh… with regards to Urban vs. Suburban…

    the big problem is that Bloomfield Avenue could never handle urban traffic conditions

  43. The Council is going to pass a resolution tonight supporting the Lackawanna application as presented. It basically parrots the developer’s argument that the train station has to be demolished if Montclair wants the grocery store.

    I guess there is no need for the Planning Board to continue with the hearing if they want to keep their seats.

    The Council doesn’t feel there is a need to hear all the testimony and any public comment. They know better. They wrote the original plan. They are not only throwing preservation under the bus, but essentially taking over the PB’s role.

    I’m will be particularly disappointed with 1st Ward Council Hurlock if he votes for this. The Councilor has made a point for all the years in office and during his campaign about how he likes to do his research, get all the facts, and all the views of his constituents before making a decision. I recall Mr Hurlock making a point about his process with the historic designation of the church on Mt Hebron and Valley.

  44. This application is all about parking…and the Council didn’t even give the Planning Board or the public a chance to hear the testimony on parking. They have another conference meeting on June 12th, but they decided that they have to drop this into tonight’s agenda at the last minute.

  45. The Council did not write this resolution on their own. They had to have had help. Let’s see, who would help the Council compose this who is not conflicted? Do you think they ran this by the developer? Probably not. A member of the Planning Board? Probably not. You know what? They did write this all by themselves. Yes, I’m sure they did. Never mind.

  46. Urban planning and architecture are very specific sciences, like medicine and cooking. If you do not have an education in medicine for example, you shouldn’t be deciding what prescriptions to hand out to people. Likewise with cooking. If you have no culinary experience or education, you shouldn’t try to whip up a public banquet. It could possibly be doing harm.

  47. I am not sure why we need a grocery store to begin with. Why is this being mandated or even considered. I say level the property and build five star luxury residences. As many as you can fit.

    Grocery Store…ridiculous. We have three more then Glen Ridge and two more then Bloomfield! Whole Foods is right on on Blomfield Avenue, an easy bus ride up the street for all fourth ward folks who don’t have cars however ,most seem to since they constantly park their cars on Elm Street/Lower Grove and throughout the 4th ward streets all night, every night and never get tickets since they, well we know why they.

    The Pathmark complex was a disgrace on every level. A residency for homeless, infested with rats, drugs, cheap pawn shops, beggars, and boarded up store fronts. The market was so filthy it was stomach turning and the people who worked there looked and acted like they were from a third world dumping ground. It was scary and i wold never allow my wife or children to go there, ever! It was a haven for crime and someone was even shot in the parking lot!

    No one is going to food shop in that neighborhood except the few that did. No business in their right mind is going to commit to a lease on a building that is not built in that neighborhood. The majority of the population in the 4th Ward survives in affordable housing and entitlement programs. That is not the kind of socio-economic demographic that any investor would even consider. This is regardless of what Ms. Baskervile’s unfounded statement of sensational posturing suggests. Seemingly, most former clients have found their way to a grocery store or they all would have perished from starvation by now.

    Forget it and get real. Go for luxury and cater to those who have worked their asses off to afford it.

  48. Dispatch. I’m ok if you’re ok with it. Dispatch. I’m ok if you’re ok with it. Dispatch. I’m ok if you’re ok with it. Dispatch. I’m ok if you’re ok with it.

    No joke. Literally 20 minutes that I, or anyone that watched it, will never get back. It was the life-span equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes.
    The only thing that was close was listening to the $1MM spent on the Friends of Edgemont Park idea for a Parallel Parking Challenge For Seniors.

  49. The dispatch and the 20 min life-span equivalent of smoking a pack cigarettes pretty much characterizes what went on. Your statements, those of HPC Chair Kathleen Bennett, Commissioner David Greenbaum and Historian Mida Caleb were the only voices that cut through that pathetic cloud of smoke. I got so much done after watching it because it took me hours to stop gasping for breath. The only ray of light through that cloud was the amendment for the affordable housing but I still don’t understand how that will technically work.

  50. F. Rubacky: speaking sense to nonsense. Respect.

    Mark129: sounds like the Republican uncle at wedding sometimes, but the voice is refreshing ’round here. Like to see Mark129 and Montclairvoyant square off sometime.

  51. I’d be willing, lacamina. Or I could get my cousin Montclairvoyant129 to stand in for me…

  52. Excerpt from an excellent article today written by Kelly Nicholaides for Montclair Local:

    It took a decade to get Miller’s model mural up, thanks to Godlewski’s persistence. “My attempts with the Montclair High School failed in 2004. I organized a presentation/fundraiser with Judy Miller and the son Craig, but the MHS just let the ball drop. The board of education didn’t care, and neither did the art department at MSU. The Fourth Ward elected officials and the local NAACP don’t care much about fostering Montclair’s Black History legacy,” Godlewski said.

    I applaud Frank Gerard-Godlewski’s passion and commitment in making this happen. That the BoE, the 4th Ward leadership and the NAACP didn’t care a whit is not a surprise. It would have been a surprise if they did care. Mr Scott continues the legacy of historic apathy.

    History is something in the rear-view mirror for this town.

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