MONTCLAIR, N.J. — Montclair turns a new page in the ongoing saga that is Lackawanna Plaza.
BDP Holdings, a New Jersey-based real estate investment company, announced Tuesday the acquisition of Lackawanna Plaza, an approximately 7.6-acre development site which includes the historic Lackawanna Terminal.
“As a Montclair resident myself, I understand both the historical and current significance of Lackawanna Plaza for the community,” said David Placek, managing partner, BDP Holdings. “BDP is very excited to acquire this extraordinary property, and we look forward to realizing its full potential, which includes bringing a grocery store back to the neighborhood. It’s an incredible opportunity for us to bring a fresh vision to the property, while still paying homage to the history of Lackawanna Terminal.”
Built in 1912, Lackawanna Terminal served as the Montclair Branch of the Delaware Lackawanna and Western Railroad from 1913 until 1981 and helped to establish Montclair as a location of major importance just 12 miles from New York City. The terminal was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
Lackawanna Plaza is the largest development site in Montclair, consisting of two parcels separated by Grove Street. The parcel to the west side of Grove Street includes a nearly vacant enclosed mall, former supermarket and office building. The east side parcel currently serves as surface parking.
Lackawanna Plaza has remained vacant — and without a supermarket — since November 2015. In August 2020, Lidl, the supermarket chain which was top open in the space, did not include Montclair in its list of new store openings, raising questions about the site’s future.
The Planning Board approved the plan for Lidl in February 2019, but One Greenwood, LLC and A Better Lackawanna, LLC filed a complaint in June 2019 against the Montclair Planning Board and the Township of Montclair regarding their approval of the Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment application.
Placek, who owns other properties in Montclair, is a member of the Montclair’s COVID-19 Recovery Task Force and is also on the board of the Montclair Community Pre-K. BDP Holdings, along with Placek and his wife Bridget, have helped sponsor Fresh Air Montclair art exhibitions around town. Placek and his wife are active in other philanthropic endeavors in Montclair.
Brian Stolar and The Pinnacle Group previously owned Lackawanna Plaza.
“The redevelopment of Lackawanna Plaza represents a significant opportunity for our township,” said Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller. “From my perspective, a successful redevelopment will breathe life into the community, maintain the character of the historic station, and most importantly, provide an affordable grocery store for area residents. I am encouraged that the new owner has indicated a desire to move in this direction.”
Kathleen Bennett, chairperson of the Montclair Historic Preservation Commission, called Lackawanna Terminal a vital part of Montclair’s history.
“This is an opportunity to provide a link to our storied past with the needs of our current citizens,” says Bennett. “Intelligent development of the site can adaptively reuse all historic structures for contemporary living. We look forward to a solution which will provide both”