NEW ROCHELLE, NY --Demonstrating its continued support to the New Rochelle community and the ongoing revitalization of the North Avenue corridor, Iona College today announced plans for a community restaurant and market on North Avenue.
Called SAGE Café, the proposed restaurant and market will serve the needs for both Iona students and the broader community, and will be located in taxable commercial space on the ground floor of the newly built seven-story mixed-use facility located at 690 North Avenue -- the former site of the Mirage Diner.
The announcement delivers on a commitment the College made when it purchased the Mirage Diner in 2014 and follows several significant North Avenue improvement efforts supported by the College, including North Avenue land acquisitions, roadway improvements and a storefront enhancement program.
"Iona College is excited to move forward on a commitment we made several years ago to provide the community with a casual, convenient, and contemporary dining destination," said senior vice president for finance and administration, Anne Marie Schettini-Lynch. "With the SAGE Café, we are not only delivering on our pledge, but complementing our other broad based efforts to beautify North Avenue, add to its commercial base and provide needed on-campus housing for our students."
The initial design of SAGE Café incorporates a 3,000-square-foot contemporary intercontinental-cuisine-influenced restaurant with a 2,000-square-foot market and bakery. The vision for the establishment is a relaxed atmosphere with a gourmet-style convenience market, a high-quality bakery, gourmet coffee station, juice bar and a "grab- 'n -go" area offering fresh food prepared by the Café. Because it will be located within commercial property, it will generate both property tax and sales tax dollars for the city.
Sage is known as the Mediterranean herb of wisdom. It literally translates to mean "wise one," a play on words that is appropriate for a college setting.
If approved through the city planning process, SAGE Café will be located on the ground floor of the College's new building, which is the latest show of campus improvements and beautification. Additional investments in North Avenue have been made by the College, such as providing funds to the City for roadway improvements on public property in the vicinity of the College, and providing financial assistance to property owners along North Avenue to improve the appearance of commercial storefronts. Through the College's meal plan, more than $2 million in revenue is generated for the local participating vendors on North Avenue.
City officials, elected officials and college leaders have all recognized the impact the College has had in the New Rochelle community as the second largest employer in New Rochelle as well as the significance of the College's contributions to the improvements along the North Avenue corridor.
Iona's improvements come at a time when a recent study by a commission of independent colleges and universities shows that the College contributes as much as $258.5 million a year to the regional economy. The study, conducted on behalf of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) by the Center for Governmental Research, concluded that in 2015 the College's spending translated into roughly $99.4 million in wages; was responsible for 1,850 local jobs and contributed $7.3 million in state income and sales tax revenues for state and local governments. Additionally, another $37 million is estimated to come from student and visitor spending.
The results showed that the impact of Iona College actually increased by $8 million from 2013 estimates by the same organizations. The economic impact is measured in Iona's direct purchases of goods and services, as well as the spending by its employees, students and visitors. Further, last year students, faculty and staff of the College contributed more than 66,000 service hours to the region.
"Since its inception, Iona College has worked diligently to be a good and responsible neighbor to the people of New Rochelle and the surrounding communities," said Iona President Joseph Nyre, Ph.D. "We are pleased with the progress we have made in recent years for our student body and community as a whole, and we will continue to be a vital part of the community at large and the regional economy."