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Community-driven investment initiative launched to help revitalize Edmonton’s Little Italy

Click to play video: 'Community effort being made to revitalize part of Edmonton’s Little Italy' Community effort being made to revitalize part of Edmonton’s Little Italy
WATCH ABOVE: In an effort to revitalize Edmonton's Little Italy, a group of community members are hoping to raise $1 million by the end of the month. Sarah Komadina explains why. – Nov 5, 2019

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally included a statement from the Edmonton Community Development Company’s website that the offering memorandum had been approved by the Alberta Securities Commission. On Nov. 5, the ECDC retracted that statement. The initiative explained the commission “does not approve offering memorandums issued by any agent or securities dealer and has not approved this offering memorandum of the McCauley Development Co-operative in particular. According to regulations, the offering memorandum will be filed with the Alberta Securities Commission 10 days after the closing of the share offering.

A unique investment project was launched in inner-city Edmonton on Monday in an attempt to help spur community-driven revitalization of Little Italy.

Miranda Ringma, board chair of the McCauley Development Co-operative, is involved with the launch and said there are many things that make the area in the McCauley neighbourhood a great place and that she just wants to make it even better.

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“We have Giovanni Caboto Park, which is amazing,” she said. “It’s one of the best parks in the city in my mind. We have the Italian Centre, we have Zocalo, we have Sorrentino’s, we have a lot of really great local businesses.

“This piazza project hopes to get more local investment, local businesses… think gelato stand and Italian leather shoes and family-friendly bistros. And that’s what we hope to create here — improve the walkability, community-minded investment.”

WATCH: Fiesta Italiana takes over Little Italy

Ringma said the goal is to start by purchasing an area strip mall for $2.86 million. It was built in 1989.

“We have a very short window to raise funds,” she said. “We have until the end of the month. That’s when the purchase closes, so we need to raise $1 million, and that’s not easy.

The McCauley Development Co-operative is the investment vehicle for “The Piazza” project and will manage the investment portfolio. It is able to take investments by way of RRSPs and TFSAs.

“People work hard for their cash. What’s nice is this development co-op is able to take people’s RRSPs and TFSAs and convert them directly into the investment co-op,” Ringma said.

“So that opportunity means if you have RRSPs sitting in bank X and they’re not doing much anyway, you can take your local investment dollars and put them directly into a community project that’s going to make a real difference.”

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Ringma was among those who delivered a presentation to potential investors on Monday evening.

“Investment co-ops aren’t a new thing — they’re across this country,” she said. “But it’s a new thing for Edmonton, so we’re pretty excited about that.”

According to Ringma, the strip mall is currently fully-occupied and the project will honour existing leases while working on a plan to help The Piazza and the community evolve.

“It’s a pretty tired-looking building right now,” she said when asked about the strip mall the community hopes to purchase. “It has a certain draw [and] some of its tenants are not always helpful to those that are struggling. So I think in some instances… they will prey on the less fortunate, and I think what we need to do is create a community-oriented, friendly spot so that everyone can thrive.

READ MORE: McCauley Cup celebrates 10th anniversary in inner-city Edmonton

“Little Italy has so much going for it. It’s a hidden gem,” she said. “[In five years], I hope it’s full of local, independent retail that’s doing fun things.”
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Potential investors will be required to purchase a minimum of five shares of $1,000 each and not be able to remove their investments for a minimum of five years.

If the investment initiative does not reach its $1-million goal, investors are being told they will get their money back.

View photos in the gallery below:

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A community-driven investment initiative was launched on Monday night to purchase a strip mal in Edmonton's Little Italy. Global News
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A community-driven investment initiative was launched on Monday night to purchase a strip mall in Edmonton's Little Italy. Global News
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A community-driven investment initiative was launched on Monday night to purchase a strip mall in Edmonton's Little Italy. Global News

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