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Group behind concept to revitalize Edmonton’s Little Italy reaches $1M investment goal

Edmonton’s Little Italy raises enough money to save piazza
The community of Little Italy has managed to drum up a lot of support for a neighbourhood project. As Chris Chacon reports, members hope to transform an old strip mall.

A proposal to overhaul a portion of Little Italy in Edmonton’s McCauley neighbourhood will move forward after the people behind initiative said it has reached its initial investment goal.

Earlier this month, the McCauley Development Co-operative — one of the entities involved in the plan — launched the community-driven investment initiative.

On Wednesday, the community engagement and communications officer for the Edmonton Community Development Company said the urban revitalization project will now move into its next phase.

“I am excited to announce that, in spite of tight timelines, we have now reached our goal of $1 million in investments and can proceed with the next step in this community-led project to breathe new life into the historic downtown McCauley neighbourhood,” Matt Steringa said.

“Our non-profit company has been working for several weeks with the McCauley Development Co-operative on an effort to purchase a strip mall in Little Italy and transform it into a neighbourhood community hub.”

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The McCauley Development Co-operative’s vision for the project is to start by purchasing The Piazza, a $2.86-million strip mall, and try to breathe new life into it by encouraging small, independent businesses that would enhance Little Italy’s character, like gelato stands, Italian shoe shops or bistros, to move into the space.

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

“Our shop is right across the street from The Piazza,” Miranda Ringma, co-owner of Zocalo gift shop, said in a news release.

“We’ve had 16 years at this location to stare out the window and imagine what could be done with that strip mall. So we got invested and involved in the co-op immediately.”

Ringma also serves as chair of the co-op, which will manage the investment portfolio for The Piazza. The initiative is able to take investments by way of RRSPs and TFSAs.

“Our communities are important to us, and neighbours talk to one another,” said Sian Williams, another founding investor in the co-op. “We’ll rally around a project that benefits the whole community, and we can make it happen on ridiculously tight timelines.

“We are people of action.”

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Investments can still be made up until Dec. 10.

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The co-op said it will honour existing leases at The Piazza while it moves forward with its plan to help the strip mall and neighbourhood evolve.