Carpionato aims to add hundreds of jobs with Benny’s redevelopment

By Shaun Towne and Nancy Krause Published: November 30, 2017, 10:46 am  Updated: November 30, 2017, 7:25 pm

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Carpionato Group announced Thursday it expects to add hundreds of short- and long-term jobs as it works to redevelop 29 current and former Benny’s store locations.

Kelly Coates, a senior vice president at Carpionato, said the real estate development company is committing more than $100 million to the project. That amount doesn’t include how much they are paying to buy the properties, which is not being disclosed, from the Bromberg family that owns Benny’s.

“We’re grateful for this honor, being entrusted with it, and we take the obligation heavily and believe that we can produce vibrant and performing retail sites,” Coates said.

Dante Bellini, a spokesman for Benny’s, confirmed Tuesday that Carpionato had reached an agreement to buy 14 stores in Rhode Island, 11 in Massachusetts and four in Connecticut. The other two of the 31 Benny’s locations were in leased properties and are not part of the transaction.

The Brombergs, who have owned Benny’s for nearly a century, announced in September they would close the retailer by the end of this year. They said at the time they hoped to sell their real estate – though not the Benny’s name – to another entity that would use it for retail.

Carpionato is seeking a mix of national, regional and local retailers and restaurants to fill the sites, according to Coates. He said the group expects to begin announcing tenants starting in the first quarter of 2018.

Coates said the improvement and maintenance of the Benny’s buildings and parking lots will create dozens of construction jobs while hundreds of permanent positions will be available once the new tenants in the locations start opening.

“We anticipate construction jobs of approximately 350 and the eventually permanent positions in excess of 1,000 jobs,” Coates said. “We hope to have the first stores open for business in Rhode Island for Christmas 2018.” Redevelopment of the other properties in Massachusetts and Connecticut will follow, he said.

Benny’s said it had approximately 700 employees when the closings were announced. Coates said those laid-off Benny’s workers will be given preferential treatment once the new tenants start hiring.

Carpionato also has 200 Rhode Island-based design and permitting professionals currently working on the project, according to Coates.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio were on hand for Thursday’s news conference. Despite the State House backdrop, Coates said Carpionato is not seeking state aid for the project.

Mattiello spoke highly of the Carpionato Group, saying they have an aggressive plan for the redevelopment of the Benny’s locations.

“Their construction is exemplary. It usually serves as a model for everybody else to try to replicate,” he said. “If you want to see what their work is, just look at the Chapel View development in Cranston.”

“This is good news for the state of Rhode Island,” Mattiello added. “This is a good example for the direction the state is moving in.”

David Ortiz, a spokesman for Gov. Gina Raimondo, said the news conference was scheduled at the last minute and she was unable to attend. He said she thanks Carpionato “for stepping up to purchase the former Benny’s real estate and for their commitment to hiring Rhode Islanders.”

Ted Nesi contributed to this report.

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