BY CHRISTIE ROTONDO
For Montclair Local
Third Ward Township Councilman Sean Spiller addressed residents’ concerns and provided updates on plans for the Seymour Street Redevelopment Area and the future of the shuttered Pathmark at Lackawanna Plaza at Tuesday night’s community meeting at the Montclair Inn.
The redevelopment plans at Seymour Street, near the Wellmont Theatre, were presented to the Planning Board just a few weeks ago, and are designed to create an arts district on Bloomfield Avenue. Concerns expressed by members of the art community at the March 27 Planning Board meeting about the space’s actual dedication to the arts were echoed by some Third Ward residents Tuesday.
“It seems like the art element was a real afterthought,” resident Jack Dorner said at Tuesday’s meeting. In particular, Dorner was concerned about the project’s plan to dedicate about 30,000 square feet of the project to retail, while only 10,000 square feet will be reserved for the arts. That 10,000 feet is also located at the interior of the site, while retail has been granted more space at the street level.
Ira Smith, the township’s consultant on these redevelopment projects, said the plans to incorporate the arts into the Seymour Street area “are far beyond what a typical development would see.” Smith pointed to designated areas around the site where developers Pinnacle Cos. and Brookfield Properties will include artistic installations, including a new passageway that will be created between South Fullerton Avenue and the new plaza. He added that while the 10,000 square feet of dedicated arts space is on the building’s interior, a large plaza will be outfitted to be used as an event space, where performances could be held. That plaza will also include an “iconic sculpture” — the plans for which have not yet been released.
A hearing about the Seymour Street Redevelopment Area will continue at the April 24 Planning Board meeting.
As for Lackawanna Plaza, Spiller said that plans are also being developed to bring a ShopRite to the site, but that the township and the developer are still discussing exactly how the space should be used. At present, the developer is interested in creating a space with not only a supermarket, but also more residential units to ensure the supermarket has a substantial customer base.
While residents in attendance were eager for a supermarket to reopen, some were concerned about adding more residents to an already congested space in the township. Smith said the township has already worked to contain some of the development — for example, the area was originally zoned to be six stories high, and the redevelopment plans for the site have reduced that to four stories. The area must also include some sort of public space, as per those guidelines.
Spiller added that there isn’t a timeline for that project yet, as it’s still in the early phases of planning. One of the reasons for the delay in redevelopment, he said, was that the township had originally planned to move its municipal offices and police headquarters there. Mayor Robert Jackson confirmed last month that the township was not moving forward with those plans.