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Council considers proposal to rename parts of downtown

By Staff | Sep 15, 2009

Though downtown Cape Coral might never be mistaken for lower Manhattan, the two might one day share a distinct cultural center.
Paesano’s Italian Market owner Jerry Furio wants to name the area on Candia Street between Cape Coral Parkway and Miramar Street, and on Lafayette Street between Candia and Coronado Parkway, “Little Italy” in hopes of creating a shopping district populated with Italian themed establishments.
Community Redevelopment Agency Director John Jacobsen said Cape Coral needs districts like the one being posed by Furio.
“There’s 110 square miles of the same thing in Cape Coral,” he said. “This is an opportunity to create neighborhoods … this is what you see in true urban areas.”
Councilmember Dolores Bertolini related stories of her youth, tales of visiting the real Little Italy and Chinatown, both of which she could walk to while growing up in New York.
Taking the culture aspect from the equation, Bertolini said the city desperately needs “destination.”
“It’s not about cultures but destination areas,” she said. “I think it’s what Cape Coral really needs.”
Though Furio was not present at Monday’s workshop meeting, there seemed to be little resistance from the council to the idea, just a curiosity as to the possibilities.
Councilmember Gloria Tate thought the idea could be a selling tool, used to package the Columbus Day Parade and Italian Food Festival, along with the proposed Little Italy district.
“It’s kind of a unique flavor for Cape Coral and I look at it as a positive thing in the CRA,” she said.
If approved by city council, Jacobsen hopes that people would coalesce into small groups that could one day help to build a neighborhood’s future identity.
He praised Furio, calling him a hometown hero, and Paesano’s a Cape landmark.
“This is the kind of activity we want to encourage,” Jacobsen said. “I think this is the start of something that could be absolutely wonderful.”