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      Growing pains in Syracuse's Little Italy

      Rome wasn't built in a day and it took ten years and millions in investment to get Syracuse's Little Italy to where it is today. The mix of restaurants, shops and businesses along North Salina Street has slowly grown - but so have some problems. At multiple points along North Salina, weeds have sprouted up and upkeep has been a concern. Armory Square and Downtown Syracuse businesses pay extra for special maintenance. George Angeloro has helped redevelop several north side buildings and says a special district is a possibility for Little Italy at some point in the future.

      "If you were to add a small cost to doing business in the area but improve the business environment, that's a win situation," said Angeloro.

      Many of the Little Italy banners that lined the street had to be taken down but the Northside UP organization recently received a grant to replace them. Director Dominic Robinson says a majority of Little Italy businesses are in favor of a special tax assessment but the area needs to grow before it would be effective

      "The fundamental issue is we need to continue to attract investment and occupy some of the vacant buildings and get more money circulating through the community and as that happens then things like a businesses improvement district are more viable," said Robinson.

      While some parts of Little Italy are still rough around the edges, others are immaculately maintained. Many businesses note it took more than a decade for Armory Square to fully take off. Travel agent Kathleen DiScenna says people need to appreciate the progress that has been made and remember that Little Italy is still being built up one piece at a time.

      "If we could show pictures from before and after you would see immediately the big changes that have gone on here. And we're not done yet - it just takes a little more time," said DiScenna.