Published: May 24, 2010 11:32 PM EDT
Updated: May 24, 2010 11:31 PM EDT

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - The building at the corner of Candia and LaFayette Streets in Cape Coral has been many things. "It's been a bar, it's been a restaurant," Tom Murphy said, who lives nearby.

At the present, it's a blank canvas. But months from now, Jerry Furio, owner of Paesano's Italian Market next door envisions a thriving community. The goal is to take the empty building and fill it with 6 Italian-themed retail stores or restaurants, making it Cape Coral's very own "Little Italy."

"He'd love to have an Italian leather shop, Italian bakery, things of that nature,
Helen Ramey of Cape Coral Community Redevelopment Agency said.

Furio hopes the new business will attract more visitors and raise property values. Cape Coral's CRA, through grants, will help new tenants with rent for the first year. "Now we are going to focus more on the existing businesses, helping them survive, grow and expand and also highlighting how wonderful they are so everyone can experience the shopping experience here," Ramey said.

Aside from stimulating the economy, Furio hopes this will create a sense of pride and community, and he's planning to host heritage festivals and parades.

"It helps the economy, their food is good, the people that work there are hard-working people and I think they do a good job," Murphy said.