Iona’s North Avenue Residence Hall Project planning in progress!

Written By: Bob McCaffrey

Iona’s North Avenue Residence Hall Project planning in progress!

Iona’s North Avenue Residence Hall Project planning in progress, there is a Public Meeting/Hearing for the proposed North Avenue Residence Hall Project at the old Mirage Dinner Site schedule for tomorrows planning Board Meeting.


3.5 PB 47-14 Application by Iona College, Owner, for a proposed seven (7) story building, with first floor retail and six (6) stories for a residence hall, and associated parking lot located at 690 North Avenue, Block 1556, Lot 106 in a NA zoned district.

PUBLIC MEETING / HEARING (Public Comment Allowed)
Tuesday December 16, 2014
7:30 PM, Room B-1
City Hall Annex
90 Beaufort Place
New Rochelle, NY 10801

Iona College this past Friday December 12, 2014 hosted a neighborhood community information meeting to show and discuss the plans for Iona’s North Avenue Residence Hall Project which will be shown to the public at the planning Meeting on December 16, 2014.

We are all aware that Iona College is in the planning stage for a multi-use building on North Avenue across from the main entrance to the campus, where the Mirage Dinner is now located and closed down.

Iona College Announces North Avenue Development Initiatives – Acquisition of Mirage Diner, Cannone’s Pizza By Talk of the Sou… On Thu, 01/02/2014

Back in early December Iona College informed area Neighborhood Association Leaders that they, Iona College have engaged Lisa Davis as their public and press relations leader. This step was taken by Iona College to ensure greater community awareness and involvement throughout the planning and construction of the new residence hall facility on North Avenue. The meeting on Friday December 12, 2014 was the first step. The public will be able to see and comment tomorrow night Tuesday December 16, 2014 at the regular scheduled Planning Meeting as listed above.

The proposal calls for a mixed use facility on North Avenue directly across from the main entrance to the campus. The ground floor of the facility will have a restaurant and retail space that will continue to provide taxable revenue to the City. The upper six floors will provide attractive apartment style housing for upper classmen. Parking for the retail will be in a new lot adjacent to the building. The students will be required to park on campus with a new sticker system and enforcement. The building has been designed to complement the surrounding community and nearby Iona buildings with a brick façade, enhanced lighting and enticing streetscape.

Here we are once again receiving updates from Iona College about their future development plans for North Avenue. I am very curious as to what role the city has taken in these plans. I know we have had committees and such. We know that Iona College needs to follow the same process for this project as with any development in New Rochelle. There have been meetings and planning for several years now. We have rarely seen nor heard anything from these committees, the city or the two City Council Members that represent the area involved. There was new zoning put in place last year on North Avenue to allow for seven stories above retail.

I know The City of New Rochelle has a lot on its plate; we have grand plans for a New City Yard, Echo Bay and Downtown being fine-tuned as well as budgets and so forth. Why do we keep hearing about Iona Colleges Master Plan for the City of New Rochelle’s North Avenue with not one word being spoken by the city itself and what the cities viewpoint is on the North Avenue Corridor?

I recently saw the plans at an Iona College Off Campus Task Force Meeting back on November 17, 2014 where we were told that they/Iona College does not need to add any parking as they have ample parking on campus. I question this thought of ample parking because back in September I saw tweets and had conversations about the actual lack of available parking on campus, this comes from their students as well as the neighbors.

Tweet: 1/28/14, 10:00 AM (I left out the name)
“It is actually impossible to find parking anywhere on campus any time after 9:30. Even earlier than that… But I’m being nice. ???#ionaprobsbs”

“The only students who are allowed to park on campus are seniors and juniors, commuters of any year, and those who have a valid reason to need a vehicle on campus (i.e. work). But I do know a few freshmen who have car at the school who find parking on side streets near the school”.

“If you are a freshman you can find a spot on the streets usually except it is harder in the mornings on Monday and Tuesday”.

I am not writing this post to complain about Iona College or the parking issues. We all know they exist. The 1996 Comprehensive Plan says that parking is a problem in the area as well as some studies done for the previous dorms at which time the representatives for Iona College acknowledged that there was a parking problem simply by the fact that when school was out, there were empty streets in the surrounding neighborhoods with plenty of parking. When school is in, the local streets were full of cars and limited parking.

Under Planning Issues section in the 1996 Comprehensive Plan:

“Over the past ten to 15 years, Iona College has expanded its student population and its physical campus into the adjacent residential neighborhoods east and west of North Avenue. It renovated a public school for college use, built a dormitory, improved its outdoor athletic field adding permanent seating and acquired properties in adjacent residential neighborhoods for college use. While its population has contracted and stabilized, neighboring communities are still impacted by competition for limited on-street parking spaces. Planned improvements to the campus identified several years ago, such as an expanded library, have the potential to create further tensions with the surrounding neighborhood”.

Iona College hosted an open forum back on October 7, 2013. Part of their Campus Master Planning meetings, everyone was invited to learn about the ideas and offer input. This was more about output. Back then no members of council attended the Neighborhood Forum meeting or any others that I have been at since. We are facing the exact same planning issues raised in the 1996 Comprehensive Plan and at all the other meetings of the past.

The problem is that there remains “A Big Disconnect”. We, The City of New Rochelle, the citizens and neighbors should see the finished Master Plan from Iona College along with The City of New Rochelle’s input to those plans before anything is done. There could/should be a presentation of the Final Master Plan presented by Iona College and The City of New Rochelle together.

Many of the neighbors are not against this development and the need to improve the North Avenue Corridor. There is just a concern that the planning is not inclusive of The City of New Rochelle, the taxpayers, the citizens, neighbors and the community that is so often forgotten. It comes across as if Iona College is the Master Developer for The North Avenue Corridor and not The City of New Rochelle.

New Rochelle must always come first!