NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Demonstrating support for North Avenue development, Iona College announced several North Avenue initiatives including land acquisitions, roadway improvements and a storefront enhancement program.
Iona College acquires North Avenue properties.
Iona College announced it has agreed to acquire properties located on North Avenue, which include the Mirage Diner and an adjacent parking lot. As part of the agreement, it is anticipated that the Mirage Diner will remain in operation in accordance with the existing lease. The College plans to develop a mixed use commercial and residential building. Working plans include community restaurant(s), bookstore, and other commercial uses on at least the first floor with residential units on additional floors.
"We approached the College in the late summer about buying the diner and related property. They have been a good partner and will develop the land in a way that supports the surrounding area" said Nick Triantafillou, owner of the Mirage Diner. "As part of the transaction, the Mirage Diner requested a nondisclosure agreement which precluded the College from disclosing the purchase until this time" said Anne Marie Schettini-Lynch, Iona College Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration.
In November of 2013, the College also acquired the former Cannone's Pizza and Campus Wings. The College pays real estate taxes at that location. The College will also pay real estate taxes on the Mirage Diner and expects to add additional taxable square footage once the property is developed.
"Iona is committed to increasing the number and quality of student living options at the College" said Charles Carlson, Vice Provost for Student Life. Iona recently completed and opened a new residence hall in the center of its campus and also renovated Rice Hall to add living spaces for students. As a greater percentage of students are opting to live on or near the campus, the college has added residence hall staff, increased security, and a Director of Off-Campus Housing to support students and the surrounding neighborhoods. "Consistent with the recommendations of the Community and College Planning Committee, Iona has demonstrated its intent to pursue development on North Avenue. This is one of several recent positive advances on that front" said District 3 Council Member, Jared R. Rice.
Roadway and storefront enhancements also planned.
Additional investments in North Avenue were also announced by the College, whereby Iona is investing funds to assist the City in making roadway improvements on City property in the vicinity of the College. Further, Iona initiated a partnership with the City to launch a Storefront Enhancement Program, which will provide financial assistance to property owners in an effort to improve the appearance of commercial storefronts located along North Avenue.
"Iona College is the second largest private sector employer in the City of New Rochelle, serving as a significant economic and service engine for the City. I'm pleased the College is working with the community to develop property outside its traditional walls and to revitalize North Avenue" said Luiz Aragon, Commissioner of Development for the City of New Rochelle who indicated that “adding residential facilities and commercial uses on North Avenue and supporting physical improvements to existing properties, will be important initial steps in the revitalization of the North Avenue corridor.”
What is prompting the development?
Since President Nyre's arrival, the College has engaged in a series of community meetings with neighbors and elected officials resulting in renewed support from the College and City of New Rochelle to develop North Avenue. “The collaborative process involving the City, Iona College and neighborhood representatives began over two years ago and resulted in a zoning change for North Avenue, which allows additional student housing while promoting the revitalization of the North Avenue corridor” said New Rochelle City Manager Charles B. Strome, III. The zoning change enacted on June 18, 2013, allows for the development of college-related uses in the North Avenue Zoning District. "Based upon the level of interest we have received from property owners and developers, the impact of the zoning changes is apparent" said Schettini-Lynch. "This is a positive development and concrete example of how a college, community and city can work together to develop a particular area" said Iona College President Dr. Joseph E. Nyre.