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Troy's Little Italy Marketplace receives state funding to boost redevelopment effort

A view of Troy's Little Italy Marketplace, which has received long-awaited state funding to begin a transformation project
Lucas Willard
A view of Troy's Little Italy Marketplace, which has received long-awaited state funding to begin a transformation project

An underutilized former brownfield site in the City of Troy’s Little Italy neighborhood has taken another step toward revitalization with the award of state funding.

Standing in the large vacant lot at the bottom of Hill Street in the City of Troy’s Little Italy neighborhood Thursday, New York State Democratic Assemblyman John McDonald presented an oversized check.

“I’m pleased to announce today, thanks to the support of Speaker Heastie, we are designating a $375,000 grant to the City of Troy for the specific express purpose of the Little Italy Marketplace,” said McDonald.

Empty for decades, the concrete lot was once home to a thriving market that served as the center of the city’s south central neighborhood in the late 19th and into the 20th Century.

Democratic Mayor Patrick Madden…

“Farmers came in and traded with each other and residents came and bought their produce for the week here. There are some outstanding old photographs of this and it’s shoulder-to-shoulder with people. It’s amazing. It highlights the way people lived in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s,” said Madden.

Republican City Council President Carmella Mantello says her father grew up in the neighborhood and says he use to share stories of coming to the market for groceries.

“Well, you know, as someone whose dad grew up around the corner, this is extremely overdue. But the good news is this is grassroots. It’s coming from the communities,” said Mantello.

The project to restore the market has long been a goal of Troy’s Little Italy Quality of Life Committee. Co-facilitator Sam Chiappone described the project as restorative for the neighborhood just south of downtown.

“Once transformed, this market will foster positive neighborhood and community relations, as well as economic growth for the Little Italy-South Central area of the city,” said Chiappone.

In addition to an outdoor multi-use space, a playground, dog park, bocce ball court and a splash pad are imagined for the refurbished marketplace.

In addition to the state funding, the project is also under consideration for an American Rescue Plan Act allocation.

Again, Mayor Madden…

“Hopefully we’ll have some announcements coming on the heels of this one that will complete the financing picture, and then we’ll go into a design phase and then drawings. So realistically, it’s hard to imagine much will start in this building season. It will probably be next year,” said Madden.

And when completed, McDonald, a member of the New York State Conference of Italian-American Legislators, which holds an annual gathering at Troy’s nearby Italian Community Center, hopes to show Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie a revitalized marketplace.

“We always have our big celebration here at ICC, it’s actually one of their biggest events of the year. And who knows, if things move along, maybe we can get the Speaker to play a little bocce,” said McDonald.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.