Every day, thousand of lives are affected by the physical appearance, commercial vitality and traffic conditions along North Avenue. When I joined the City Council back in 1996, improving North Avenue was one of my top priorities, and I am proud of what we have accomplished since, including a new street-scape, better traffic patterns, and burial of utility lines. It’s a big positive change.
But public expenditures can only go so far. To continue moving forward, we need to attract additional private investment and work with key institutional partners, like Iona College.
The City’s zoning code can be a powerful tool for accomplishing those ends. That is why, following the lead of a neighborhood-college committee, the City adopted new zoning last year to encourage student-related growth directly on North Avenue, while also relieving pressure on surrounding neighborhoods.
And it’s starting to work. Last week, Iona announced its intention to acquire property on North Avenue in order to develop a mixed-used commercial-residential building. (Details still to be determined.) Iona will also be teaming with the City to refresh the textured pavement at its front entrance and to establish a storefront improvement program that will make grants available to property owners who want to upgrade facades or undertake other design enhancements.
There is more information in Iona’s press release on these subjects.
North Avenue continues to be a work in progress. In fact, the City Council will have a preliminary discussion about other potential zoning changes this week. But it is good to see diligent effort bearing fruit.