The Little Italy Association, in partnership with H.G. Fenton Co., will officially break ground on Piazza Famiglia at 10 a.m. Dec. 1. This new project will transform West Date Street between Columbia Street and India Street into a 10,000-square-foot public piazza to serve the Little Italy community.
“This is going to be a special place for San Diego,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “Piazza Famiglia will serve as a thriving community center that brings people from all walks of life together to enjoy our great urban core. I am excited to break ground on what will become another community gem that reminds all of us why San Diego is a world-class city.”
The project was inspired by the grand piazzas of Italy and Europe and will feature classic Italian architectural details and design. The piazza will include attractive landscaping with a grand water feature and inviting seating and gathering areas. The piazza will become the new heart of Little Italy and a central community gathering space to host farmers’ markets, concerts and cultural events. It is scheduled to open in 2016.
Piazza Famiglia was approved by the City Council in July and is the result of years of collaboration among the city of San Diego, Little Italy Association, Civic San Diego, H.G. Fenton Co. and the Little Italy community. Mayor Faulconer and Council President Todd Gloria, who represents the community of Little Italy, will participate in the groundbreaking, along with representatives from the Little Italy Association. The Little Italy community was instrumental in the project’s design and approval.
“Piazza Famiglia will serve as a hub for residents and visitors alike to enjoy all that Little Italy has to offer,” Gloria said. “This project truly reflects what it means for a community to come together to turn a vision into reality. All of this was made possible only because of many people and organizations working hand in hand to better our community.”
The groundbreaking ceremony will take place on West Date Street at the intersection of India Street. Led by H.G. Fenton President and CEO Mike Neal, and featuring commencement words from Faulconer, Gloria and Little Italy Association Chief Executive Administrator Marco Li Mandri, the ceremony will be a symbolic milestone of the neighborhood’s urban modernization.
“This full-block piazza will be Little Italy’s cornerstone and a destination in the community that not only residents will spend time in, but one we hope visitors from far and wide will travel specifically to see,” Li Mandri said. “Public areas, parks and community areas are what make a neighborhood a home, and Little Italy has been creating these central meeting areas for years. It’s what sets us apart from other urban neighborhoods, and it’s what makes our neighborhood a coveted, desirable and truly iconic location.”
Piazza Famiglia joins several other public spaces in Little Italy, including Piazza Basilone on West Fir Street and India Street. It will be dedicated to the families who banded together to create Little Italy decades ago, residents and to the families that will set their roots in Little Italy in the future.
“We are privileged to be part of such a transformational project given our long history of working in the San Diego and downtown communities,” Neal said. “Piazza Famiglia is the result of what can be achieved through community collaboration, and we are proud to be breaking ground on a project that will bring the community’s vision to life.”