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Plans for a New Lackawanna Plaza

Lackawanna Terminal by Evan Bakos

Lackawanna Plaza used to be a railroad terminal which eventually became a thriving shopping mall. There were stores like Pathmark, Roberto’s Pizza, a Radio Shack, and more. Pathmark was a supermarket which sold affordable groceries until it shut down in 2015. When it shut down, the rest of the mall severely declined. But, in early October of 2023, the Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment plans were passed by Montclair’s town council.

Although the people of Montclair care about the future of this mall, they are still trying to preserve the past. Lackawanna Plaza used to be a train station called Lackawanna Terminal. Lackawanna Terminal finished being built and opened to the public on June 28th, 1913 and was in use until March 2nd, 1981, when it was converted into a shopping mall.

The development team plans to restore one of the original Lackawanna train cars (one of the first train cars that Thomas Edison electrified) to be an interactive statue. 

Plans of redevelopment for Lackawanna Plaza floated around for eight years. The Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment Plan says that there is eight acres of available space. To put that into perspective, it is around 6 football fields.

Dattner Architects’ blueprint for Lackawanna Plaza

After eight years, the Montclair Council has finally approved the redevelopment plan. There will be lots of green space involved, making Lackawanna Plaza more of a community place and tourist attraction. 

David Placek owns BDP Holdings which is in charge of development of Lackawanna Plaza. He’s lived in Montclair for the past 10 years and is very determined about his projects. When asked if the plans could be denied, he said, “That won’t happen on my watch.”

They have spoken to Gilbane Building company, Sordoni Construction, Molfetta Construction as possible contractors.  The project is estimated to cost somewhere around the 250-300 million dollars. 

Looking at the blueprint there will once again be a big supermarket to bring back convenient food to mimic Pathmark. Pathmark shut down in 2015 leaving people who needed cheap groceries without accessible food nearby, making the majority of south end Montclair a food desert. The only food store nearby was far uphill by the Montclair Art Museum, Whole Foods. 

Some people in lower income downtown areas aren’t able to take transit every time they need fresh food. This leaves only unhealthy and expensive options until the new supermarket comes in. The only remaining shop in Lackawanna Plaza is Popeyes.

The Lackawanna redevelopments will offer a lot of good qualities to downtown Montclair. In an interview with Jason Gleason of Montclair Center Bid, he said “17,000 residents live within a 15 minute walk of downtown.” A new mall area with different stores and an outside area with grass instead of pavement will surely benefit residents in the area.

Jaji Packard, of MBID, said, “A lot of the people who will use the supermarket will be a comfortable walking distance.” It’s good to know that residents of the south end will have a supermarket in comfortable proximity to be able to walk to, after all these years they were left without one. They also plan to provide affordable housing for south end residents. 

It is still unknown which supermarket company will take over. There are rumors that it could be an Amazon Fresh or a LIDL, but these are just speculations. Since it is going to be a couple years until the supermarket opens up, the Montclair food desert will continue. 


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About the Contributors
Casey Blau
Casey Blau, Staff Writer
Casey is a 10th grader at MHS who enjoys drawing, playing baseball, and watching movies.
Evan Bakos
Evan Bakos, Staff Writer
Evan is a 10th grade student at Montclair High School. He likes to play guitar and write. He enjoys spending his time talking to friends and making music.

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