Poughkeepsie, NY – Vassar College will transform its campus bookstore into an Arlington neighborhood business for the general public, as well as for Vassar students and employees, by expanding and relocating the operation in 2009 to the Raymond Avenue storefront currently occupied by Juliet Pizza and Billiards. While business plans for the new store are still in development, the college expects the new bookstore to be open longer hours, sell a wider selection of general interest books, merchandise, and Vassar clothing and gifts, and include an entertainment space. The store will also continue to serve Vassar faculty members ordering textbooks and other class materials.
Plans call for an architecturally distinctive exterior and interior renovation of the building, to respect its historic façade and location. The property is at the corner of Raymond and Collegeview avenues in the Town of Poughkeepsie.
"We're very excited to be creating a new retail anchor and gathering place in our neighborhood," said Vassar College president Catharine Hill. "We expect the bookstore will bring even more life and activity to Arlington, and help the neighborhood continue to attract new businesses. I also hope the store helps Vassar and our Arlington neighbors feel even more connected."
Vassar reached this decision after more than four years of market research and planning, including focus groups, surveys, and conversations with a wide array of community members, business people, and public officials.
"I feel that the plans for the Juliet building fit nicely within the town center concept for the Arlington area that we created in the new Town of Poughkeepsie master plan," said Todd Tancredi, 6th Ward councilman. "I am both optimistic and excited about the potential of Arlington and the changes we are beginning to see."
Added Bob Raisch, director of the Arlington Business Improvement District, "The move will introduce many more local residents and Vassar people to our neighborhood retail businesses. This will also be the first time in my fifty years of operating a business in Arlington that visitors and local residents will be able to purchase Vassar memorabilia off-campus. The new retail bookstore, along with the further scheduled physical improvements on Raymond and Collegeview, are very likely to attract other serious investors to the Arlington area."
The plan for the new Vassar store at 60 Raymond Avenue will also make greater use of the approximately 10,000 square-foot location. In earlier years the building was home to the Juliet movie theater, and as part of Vassar's market research on the property the college actually investigated the possibility of bringing back a movie theater.
"We found that it would have been a very risky undertaking," said Elizabeth Eismeier, the college's Vice President for Finance and Administration. "Among many findings, our research showed that a bookstore, in contrast to a movie theater, will bring people and business to Raymond Avenue at all times of the day, which should be an added benefit for the neighborhood."
The Juliet building is owned by College Properties, LLC, Vassar's real estate subsidiary, which makes investments in commercial real estate near the campus with the purpose of enhancing the neighborhood. The company pays full local property taxes on all of its holdings. It owns three properties along Raymond and Collegeview avenues, which are home to such popular businesses as the Beech Tree Grill, Baby Cakes Bakery Cafe, Three Arts bookshop, Foreign Affairs women's clothing, Fresco Tortillas, Zorona restaurant, and Chan's Peking Kitchen.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.