By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, October 12, 2012
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Pizza mogul Sal Lupoli shares vision for Hampton Beach Casino
HAMPTON -- As the new majority owner of the Hampton Beach Casino property, pizza mogul Sal Lupoli said he's already spent a half-million dollars aimed at breathing new life into the century-old Hampton Beach landmark and plans to invest more dough.
"This is the beacon of Hampton Beach," said Lupoli, real estate developer and owner of Sal's Pizza. "The beach exists because of the Casino. This is about how we enhance that, not alter it."
Lupoli said he has no desire to tear down the building, but hopes to enhance the local icon, keeping the local businesses in place but also bringing in new attractions.
The site where he sees future redevelopment is the property he owns north of the Casino building that encompasses the Water Slide Park.
But, he said, no definitive plans are yet on the table.
Lupoli met Tuesday with local and state officials and Hampton Beach business leaders at the Ashworth by the Sea to introduce himself and tell them about his vision for the property now that he has acquired 75 percent ownership of it.
He purchased those shares of the property last March from John P. Grandmaison, Joyce Grandmaison and the Sam Waterhouse estate.
The Schaake family, which runs the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, retained its 25 percent ownership.
"I just wanted to introduce myself to the community," Lupoli said regarding why he wanted to hold the meeting. "I wanted to let them know where I'm coming from."
Lupoli said he plans to take the same approach he did when he purchased Riverwalk Properties, 1.4 million square feet of business property along Interstate 495 and the Merrimack Valley in Lawrence, Mass.
While he could have easily torn it down, he didn't. Instead he worked with the community and built upon it.
When Riverwalk Properties was purchased in May 2003, the complex had fewer than 35 businesses and 300 workers. By the end of 2007, it had grown to more than 200 companies employing more than 3,500 people.
"My job as a developer is create jobs, make a difference in people's lives and give them an opportunity," he said.
Lupoli said the Casino deal took two years to negotiate and he sees its revitalization as a "slow" but "methodical" project.
"It's going to take a number a years," Lupoli said. "I look at what I have done and my business as a marathon. This is not a sprint."
Having spent the last 15 years operating a satellite Sal's Pizza shop from the beach, Lupoli said he knows what the property means to the community and how important it is to the success of the beach.
"The goal is how do we elevate it, rise the tide so all the ships can sail."
Lupoli said he's also committed to the locally owned businesses who still want to operate at the Casino building, with the Casino Ballroom still being the main attraction.
"I don't see me replacing any business there," Lupoli said.
The only tenant he lost was Dunkin' Donuts, only because they gave him a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum.
"Instead we brought in a locally owned coffee shop," he said.
Lupoli said he did relocate some tenants, including caricature artist Paul Gaunt.
He also noted that he partnered with a local business person to open the Whale's Tale restaurant.
Lupoli said his firm spent nearly half a million dollars prior to the summer in renovations, calling it a Band-Aid.
"I don't think the Casino has seen a half-million in renovations in about 10 to 15 years," Lupoli said.
Some of the items tackled included a complete paint job, new outside stairs for the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom and opening up the back of the casino to serve as an entrance.
What's coming down the pipeline, he said, is to completely open up the first-floor boardwalk by relocating the dart game, hot dog vendor and other businesses. Plans also call for glass and brick frontage to be removed.
Lupoli said he also wants to see better lighting and uniformity when it comes to signage.
As for future developments, Lupoli said he's had several meetings with stakeholders of properties that abut his north of the Casino building.
"I think it's a wonderful piece of property to take a peek at coming out of the box," Lupoli said.
He's also looking into acquiring other properties.
"I have been enjoying Hampton Beach for many, many years," Lupoli said. "To become a part of that and hopefully be a part of the revitalization of it, is something I take great pride in."
Locals impressed by Lupoli's approach
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, October 12, 2012
HAMPTON -- After hearing about his work helping to revitalize the city of Lawrence, Mass., with the Riverwalk Properties, local officials say they are eager to see what Sal Lupoli will bring to the Casino property and Hampton Beach.
More than a dozen stakeholders of Hampton Beach, including local officials and business owners, met Tuesday with Lupoli, who is now the majority owner of the Hampton Beach Casino and property north of it, including the Water Slide Park.
Lupoli is president and CEO of Lupoli Companies, which includes Sal's Pizza and several real estate properties.
At the meeting, Lupoli emphasized that his goal is not to tear down but to breathe new life into the century-old Hampton Beach landmark, having already invested a half-million dollars in upgrades with plans to do much more.
"I think a lot of people were nervous and I think he reassured everyone that he's not coming in to totally change things and that he wants to reinforce what we already have," said Tom McGuirk of McGuirk's Ocean View Restaurant.
Lupoli said he called for the meeting because he wants to work with the community similar to the way he did with the city of Lawrence on his Riverwalk Project, creating jobs and stimulating the economy.
He said it would have been held sooner but he was attending the MIT Sloan School of Management Fellowship Program.
John Nyhan of the Hampton Beach Area Commission said he was impressed by what Lupoli had to say, including his vision for the property.
"It appeared as if he read the Hampton Beach Master Plan page by page," Nyhan said.
"He talked about his emphasis on revitalization, consistency in the look, jobs, economic development and extending the season. All the things we have been talking about at the beach commission meetings."
Chuck Rage, chairman of the Hampton Beach Village Precinct, said they are looking forward to working with Lupoli.
"I mean look what he did in Lawrence," Rage said. "It was the biggest project that Massachusetts had ever seen and it was done in one of the worst sections of the city."
When Riverwalk Properties was purchased in May 2003, the complex had fewer than 35 businesses and 300 workers.
Lupoli redeveloped the property and by the end of 2007 it had grown to more than 200 companies employing more than 3,500 people.
Phase II — the development of an additional 1.5 million square feet — is currently under way and is projected to create 2,500 new jobs.
"I think he showed himself as someone who cares for the community that he does business in," Nyhan said. "I think it showed in Lawrence and I'm hoping the same type of impact made there will be made at Hampton Beach."