McCauley residents, businesses raise $1M to buy strip mall

A strip mall in the McCauley neighbourhood is under new ownership after a community co-op raised $1 million to bring the building under local ownership.

Roughly 70 investors pitched in as members of the McCauley Development Co-operative to round up the $1 million — 34 per cent of the property value.

A few members invested $100,000, which was the maximum amount allowed under the co-op's rules. Many others made the $5,000 minimum contribution, helping the group meet its fundraising goal by the deadline. 

"The community, basically, they rallied and stepped up," said Sian Williams, one of the founding investors in the co-op that formed in September when they learned The Piazza was for sale.

"It was like a political campaign. It was door knocking, it was talking to people who are dog walking, it was talking about our ideas for why this was important."

The Piazza is across the street from the Italian Centre and the Zocalo gift shop. It also borders Giovanni Caboto Park.

Investor and Italian Centre president Teresa Spinelli said the co-op members want the mall to house more family-friendly businesses.

"People are investing in this thing, not to make money because it's not a money-making venture. You're investing just for the good of the community, which is so amazing to me," Spinelli said.

At present, there are six tenant bays, currently occupied by a variety of businesses that range from a barber shop to restaurants to a pharmacy.

The current leases will be honoured, but once they run out, the co-op plans to work with each business to determine a way forward, Spinelli said. 

The early focus has been on rounding up the capital to purchase the building, but Williams and Spinelli said they'd like to see a business that capitalizes on proximity to the park. 

"In my dream, it would be a great ice cream place, for example, or a nice restaurant," Spinelli said. 

The group said their co-op is the first of its kind in Edmonton.