By Staff Reports
Hampton Union, March 27, 2012
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[Deb Cram Photo]
HAMPTON -- Incoming majority owner Sal Lupoli said he plans to "enhance" what already exists at the Hampton Beach Casino property and possibly add a year-round hotel, rather than tear the building down and start anew.
"The Casino is an icon in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire and New England going back to the late 1800s," Lupoli, a Lawrence, Mass., real estate developer and owner of Sal's Pizza told the Eagle-Tribune, a Massachusetts newspaper. "It deserves respect. It needs an injection of energy and vision. I think my group has that energy. We aren't looking to change anything. We are going to enhance it.
"I'm not tearing down buildings and removing businesses," Lupoli added. "That couldn't be further from my mind. These are small businesses, I want to nurture them, because it creates a lifestyle, an environment, and a future for their children. I just want to take care of the small businesses and clean things up."
Speculation about Lupoli's plans has been growing in Hampton since March 12, when John P. Grandmaison told the Hampton Union his family is selling its shares of the Casino property to Lupoli. John P. Grandmaison and Joyce Grandmaison have both sold their 25 percent stakes to Lupoli, as has the Sam Waterhouse estate, giving Lupoli 75 percent ownership.
Fred Schaake Sr. has retained his 25 percent ownership. Fred Schaake Jr. remains general manager of the Casino Ballroom, the legendary music venue that is a centerpiece of the property. The property also is home to the Funarama arcade, Whale's Tale restaurant, Casino Fast Food and the Hampton Beach Casino Mall.
Fred Schaake Jr. has not returned phone calls over the past two weeks from the Hampton Union seeking comment about the sale.
Lupoli told the Eagle-Tribune he plans to meet with local and state officials about ideas for the property before making decisions. He said he plans to hear their ideas and pick the best one or two.
Hampton Beach Area Commission Chairman John Nyhan called the Casino deal "a giant step forward" for the 50-year Hampton Beach master plan. Nyhan praised Lupoli's success with Riverwalk Properties, 1.4 million square feet of business property along Interstate 495 and the Merrimack Valley in Lawrence.
Lupoli's purchase includes property north of the two blocks taken up by the Casino building. Combined, the properties total approximately 6.5 acres.
"Along with the Schaake family, the thought of having Sal Lupoli involved in the Casino block is a dream come true," Nyhan said. "With his progressive outlook, he turned a section of the old mills along the Merrimack River into a very successful business area that has been recognized by many regional and state governmental organizations as an economic development success story. His ability to recognize the importance of economic redevelopment can only improve the central point of the Ocean Boulevard business community."