Rhode Island company plans to redevelop former Benny's stores

Dec 4, 2017

The Dartmouth Benny’s may not remain vacant for long, as a Rhode Island-based company has announced its plans to purchase and redevelop the property and 28 additional former Benny’s locations across three states.

The Carpionato Group plans to invest $100 million into redeveloping the vacant buildings, once home to the family-owned discount retail chain known for its prices and iconic red facade. Twenty-nine of the retail chain’s 31 buildings in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts are included in the deal, which is still pending. Gregg Perry, a spokesperson for the Carpionato Group, said two locations were being leased by Benny's and not included in the sale.

In a press release, the company said it is seeking a mix of national, regional, and local retailers and restaurants to occupy the properties.

The $100 million price tag, which does not include the cost of buying the properties, will include renovations to building exteriors, parking lot and drainage upgrades, and will address any environmental concerns with the buildings.

The company will focus on the 14 Rhode Island properties first, and anticipates leases to be filled and retail stores to open by Christmas 2018. Perry said there is no deadline for when the Massachusetts locations could open. In a press release, Carpionato officials said redevelopment of the Connecticut and Massachusetts locations will follow "as quickly as possible thereafter."

Perry said as part of lease agreements between the company and prospective tenants, provisions will be included giving former Benny’s employees priority for jobs.

According to town assessment records, Benny's 696 Dartmouth Street location is appraised at $2.3 million, which also includes a fast-food restaurant located on the same property. The Benny's building includes 24,755 square feet of space and was built in 1967.

Benny's was founded in 1924 by Benjamin Bromberg. Its first location was on Fountain Street in Providence. Originally offering radio equipment and auto parts, the store soon expanded into everything from toys and bicycles to garden items and beach gear.

Citing a dramatic change in the retail landscape diminishing the value of 'brick and mortar' businesses, Benny's officials announced in September that all 31 stores in New England would close. In a statement released at the time, Benny's Vice President Arnold Bromberg said that those changes made it impossible for the family-owned chain to move forward.

The Dartmouth Benny’s closed in early October.