Proposed renovation, expansion of Benny’s site

Dec 13, 2018

A developer plans to turn Dartmouth’s vacant Benny’s store into the town’s newest shopping center.

The Rhode Island-based Carpionato Group has submitted plans to renovate the existing 696 Dartmouth Street property to support five retail operations, including an O’Reilly Auto Parts store.

The existing 24,572 square-foot Benny’s building would be renovated, and a 18,460 square-foot addition would be built to house a total of four possible tenants. The company’s plans also include an additional 7,250 square-foot building on the property which would provide a fifth storefront.

So far, the only tenant confirmed by the company is O’Reilly Auto Parts, which would be housed in the new building.

The Benny’s lot is also shared by a former Papa Gino’s, which closed suddenly several months ago. That building would remain unchanged.

The project is contingent upon parking changes and the approval of variances which the developers have requested from town zoning requirements. The site plan will be reviewed at an upcoming Planning Board meeting, while the Zoning Board of Appeals will hear variance requests in the new year.

Benny’s closed in October 2017 after the Rhode Island-based chain’s owners announced their intent to shutter all 31 stores in three states. The Dartmouth location was one of the last closures.

In a statement released at the time, Benny's Vice President Arnold Bromberg said that drastic changes to the retail landscape and the value of brick-and-mortar stores made it impossible for the family-owned chain to move forward.

The Carpionato Group, a Rhode Island-based real estate firm, announced its plans to invest $100 million into redeveloping Benny's sites in Dec. 2017. The cost, which did not include property purchases, will fund renovations to building exteriors, parking lot and drainage upgrades, and will address any environmental concerns with the buildings across three states.

Other sites in Massachusetts are being redeveloped, including the former Wareham location, which will become a Harbor Freight store.

It is not the only big project on Dartmouth St. The new shopping center would be located near a new expansion of the Solemar apartment complex.

Claremont Companies, which owns the Solemar apartment complex, is building its new 55-and-over complex on the site of the former Gifford Marine building at 676 Dartmouth St. The long-vacant boat showroom was demolished earlier in the year.