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Providence, RI - Paolino Properties, led by Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. has purchased the historic Cherry & Webb building on Providence's Westminster Street, for approximately $2.3M.
The building was formerly owned by Belvoir Properties, led by James Winoker. Current tenants include WLWC the CW-TV affiliate for Providence-New Bedford, the Rhode Island Disability Law Center, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and Broadview Networks, Inc.
One entrance to the Tri-Store Bridge – an elevated walkway constructed to accommodate shoppers as they passed between the Cherry & Webb, Gladdings, and Shepard department stores – is accessible from the building, once a proud part of the capital city's downtown shopping district. In addition, Cherry & Webb is an important part of Rhode Island's media landscape. The company originally owned and operated WPRI-TV 12 (then WPRO-TV) which debuted in 1955, and owned WPRO 630 AM which was purchased by Cherry & Webb in 1931.
“We are excited about the acquisition of this building and happy to continue expansion of our properties along Westminster Street,” said Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. “The Cherry & Webb building has long been a part of Rhode Island's collective memory, many have visited and shopped there over the years.”
“I'd like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Jim Winoker and his family for their part in this transaction. Uniquely – we didn't need a written agreement to make this acquisition happen, just a handshake, which seldom happens in this day in age,” Mr. Paolino noted.
ABOUT PAOLINO PROPERTIES
Paolino Properties is a leading real estate investment, management, and development firm headquartered in Providence, RI. The company was founded over 100 years ago and remains family-owned and operated. The team at Paolino Properties believes in the importance of honest communication with each and every. www.paolinoproperties.com
By Ian Donnis, RIPR
Former Providence mayor Joseph R. Paolino Jr. sat down at his Dorrance Street real estate office earlier this week to talk about his recent property acquisitions; downtown Providence; the city's economic challenges; the Superman Building; a possible mayoral run by Buddy Cianci; and the future of the Providence Journal.
Paolino Properties acquires all interests in Providence Rhode Island's 100 Westminster Street, 30 Kennedy Plaza, and 110 Westminster Street
Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. is now only Rhode Island owner of a Providence high-rise
Providence, RI - Paolino Properties, led by Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. this week announced the approximately $64M acquisition of all interests in three downtown Providence properties. The purchase includes 100 Westminster Street, 30 Kennedy Plaza and the surface parking lot and facade at 110 Westminster Street.
"This purchase is a proud moment for my family. Providence is my home, and I am so pleased to continue our family's history of public service and private investment by acquiring one hundred percent interest in these landmark properties," said Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. "I have long considered 100 Westminster Street to be the best office building in Providence and look forward to ensuring that it remains so."
100 Westminster Street is a 350,000 square foot class A office building in the heart of Providence's Financial District. The space is home to Providence Equity Partners, Hinckley Allen & Snyder LLP, Nortek, Bank of America, the US Attorney, Wells Fargo and others. It is a Postmodern skyscraper and opened in 1984. The building is part of one of the most iconic sections of the Providence skyline and will now be the only locally owned high-rise in the city.
"Significant local investments like this signal to the rest of the country that Providence, and all of Rhode Island, is open for business," said Governor Lincoln D. Chafee. "Members of the Paolino family have been champions of our capital city for generations. They are enthusiastic, civic minded Rhode Islanders who care deeply about the future of our city and state. This acquisition sends a message beyond our borders that Providence is a great place to live, work and visit."
Paolino Properties plans to fill the renovated, modern lobby at 100 Westminster with a statement of art, by installing a gallery as well as a restaurant. For 30 Kennedy Plaza, the 35,000 square foot historic building next door, the company is exploring boutique hotel options. Paolino Properties intends to save the historic Providence National Bank Building facade on the 110 Westminster Street parcel. The company is studying various development options for the site.
“I commend Joe Paolino for his many years of unwavering faith, commitment and investment in our Capital City,” said Mayor Angel Taveras. “This is another great example of development in Providence’s vibrant, historic downtown.”
Paolino Properties is a fourth generation family-owned and operated real estate investment, development, and management company. With roots in downtown Providence the company's holdings include office, industrial, retail and residential properties throughout the state and beyond. Local counsel to Paolino Properties was Thomas V. Moses of Moses Afonso Ryan, Ltd. In addition, Andrew Lance of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, New York also represented Paolino Properties through this transaction.
"Hinckley Allen has been a long standing member of the Providence business community, we recognize the importance of local investment of this kind and understand the positive impact it will have," said Marc Crisafulli, Managing Partner at Hinckley, Allen & Snyder, LLP. "We look forward to remaining a tenant at 100 Westminster and to working closely with Paolino Properties."
Bill Hatfield, Bank of America Rhode Island president and a tenant of 100 Westminster, said, "This is great news for downtown Providence and the hundreds of Bank of America employees who work at 100 Westminster. Joe’s vision for the heart of the Financial District encourages growth while maintaining a sense of history, something he has a deep appreciation for given his local roots.”
"I have faith in my home city of Providence, and strive to be one of our City's most committed citizens," said Paolino. "My family is fortunate that my great grandfather, grandfather and father worked so hard to establish a strong foundation, one that my sister Donna Paolino and I will continue to build on. Today would be a very proud day for my father, as the pioneer of the revitalization of downtown Providence; I only wish he could be here to see this. I believe in the potential of downtown Providence. We are home to world-class academic institutions, trusted hospitals, leaders in industry, incredible restaurants, beautiful shops, and most importantly - good, hardworking people. I am proud to invest in Providence, and even prouder to call this city my home."
Two decades ago, Rhode Island was in the grip of a harsh and unrelenting recession. Soon after taking office, Governor Sundlun was forced to close failing credit unions across the state in order to prevent the loss of more than one billion dollars in personal savings. By 1992, the unemployment rate had risen to nearly 9%. Rhode Island was worse off than most of the rest of the country, and the mood in the state was grim. As Yogi Berra would say, “It’s deja vu all over again.”
One night in 1992, while I was in my office at the R.I. Department of Economic Development about 6:30 p.m., I received a call from Jim Skeffington, the prominent Providence attorney, and from Terry Murray, chairman of Fleet Financial. They told me that Fleet had a big decision to make: Expand in Rhode Island or in other, more business-friendly states. Would I, as economic development director, recommend legislation similar to Delaware’s that would make Rhode Island attractive to Fleet? Several thousand new and existing jobs were at stake.
I called Governor Sundlun, who was still in his office at 7 p.m. (of course he was), and told him about my conversation with Skeffington and Murray. Sundlun asked my opinion, and I said we should go for it. Within an hour, the four of us were sitting in the Governor’s office, and Governor Sundlun made a decision that evening to support the needed legislation. Upon approval by the General Assembly, Fleet began a major build-up in Rhode Island and our state became an important player in the financial-services sector. Several years later, Governor Lincoln Almond, with the help of legislative leaders, won passage for even more sweeping legislation, and Fidelity Investments came to Rhode Island.
In 2013, under similar circumstances, Governor Chafee, Speaker Fox and Senate President Paiva-Weed are well-positioned to turn a crisis into an opportunity for the people of Rhode Island. As far back as the 1950s, when the renewal of College Hill began, and as recently as 2000, when Providence Place opened its doors, state and local governments have provided political leadership, financial muscle and legal authority that promoted new investment and created new jobs. Electric Boat, high-tech businesses on Aquidneck Island, Fleet, GTECH, Fidelity, Amgen, Providence Place -- all benefited from strong partnerships with government. The 38 Studios fiasco, wherein a prior governor placed a very high bet on a new and unproven company, should not dissuade government from resuming its essential leadership function -- or from employing the R.I. Economic Development Corporation to this end. The 38 Studios loan-guarantee was not a decision by the Economic Development Corporation, but a political decision by the previous governor -- and a bad one at that. Now we must put that experience behind us. Too much is at stake for our workers and their families.
However, there are a number of steps that we must take if Rhode Island is to reach its economic potential. Rhode Island is a wonderful state to live in. The problem is that it’s not a great state to do business in. Government needs to help make capital more available to small business, provide more job-training and career education, fight at the PUC for lower energy costs, contain health care costs, and ease regulatory burdens related to the building code, fire code, occupancy permits, and environmental permits issued by the DEM. These are the fundamentals of job creation and job retention that often are overlooked.
Government also needs to adopt a working strategic plan for the state economy. Twenty years ago, it was obvious to Governor Sundlun and to me that financial services was a rapidly growing sector in the Northeast. Today, it is “eds and meds” -- the major research universities and teaching hospitals that have emerged as important foundations of the Northeast economy, including the Rhode Island and metropolitan Boston economies.
There is plenty of opportunity for Rhode Island to grow this vital sector. Back in 1992, as director of the Department of Economic Development, I contracted with planner William D. Warner to come up with a master plan for the corridor in downtown Providence that would be freed up by the demolition of Route 195. Warner’s plan made the Providence corridor attractive for biotech and medically-related companies in what we now call the Knowledge District. Certainly the presence of R.I. Hospital, Women & Infants, Johnson & Wales, and now Brown University’s medical school makes the district particularly attractive. Excellent highway access and proximity to medical assets in the Boston area are big pluses as well.
Now that dozens of acres of prime land are cleared, there is tremendous potential to attract new investment and create new jobs. Yet there is very little evidence of activity. I am sorry, but this is not complicated. At a time of ten-percent unemployment, we need to be proactive. Our leaders need to call in all of the stakeholders and say, “Let’s take your ten-year plan of development and do it in three years.” With all of that land just waiting to be developed, and thousands of Rhode Islanders desperate for jobs, we should be moving full speed ahead. If we can begin development on an accelerated basis, then the battered construction industry and its workers will be among the beneficiaries as well.
Rhode Island can also look to other states for models of development that we can employ. Just as we made Rhode Island attractive for financial-service companies in the 1990s, we can follow the example of Texas, North Carolina and other states in making Rhode Island attractive to medical companies today. We can also learn from the success of Massachusetts, working with MIT and Harvard, in making Cambridge an international leader in biomedical research and development. Private companies are spending two billion dollars in the Bay State because they want to be close to the research mecca of Cambridge. Rhode Island can showcase its own medical and educational institutions and also pull in new investment. Providing financial incentives is always important. Here we might look to New York in search of solutions. After the terrorist attacks on lower Manhattan, New York State created “Empire Bonds” to help finance the revitalization of the Ground Zero area. This is the kind of bold thinking we need here.
In addition, I agree with Senator Paiva-Weed that Rhode Island should waive sales taxes for the sale of art works. There is real potential for Providence to become a true creative capital if we exploit our long history of art and design and the presence of Rhode Island School of Design, America’s premier school of art. Working with RISD, we have the potential to create an annual festival of art in the revitalized downtown, following the example of Art Basel in Miami Beach. Every year, thousands of art dealers and buyers from around the world come to Miami Beach to display and buy art works during a festival week. Could Rhode Island pull off something similar in its capital city? With the right governmental leadership, yes it could.
So let’s not dwell on our high unemployment rate and lack of investment. Let’s concentrate on all of our strengths, and all of our assets just waiting to be exploited. With strong governmental leadership, we can become one of America’s more prosperous states once again. I don’t think it’s that complicated if we work together and do what Governor Sundlun used to say: “Just get it done. Now!”
Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. was Mayor of Providence from 1984 to 1991 and director of the R.I. Department of Economic Development from 1991 to 1995. He is a commercial real estate owner in Providence.