Carpionato to buy nearly all Benny’s store locations

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Real-estate development company Carpionato Group has reached an agreement to buy 29 Benny’s store locations, Eyewitness News has confirmed.

Dante Bellini, a spokesman for Benny’s, confirmed the news Tuesday. The deal involves 14 Benny’s locations in Rhode Island, 11 in Massachusetts and four in Connecticut. The other two of the 31 Benny’s locations were in leased properties and are not part of the transaction.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. It is expected to close in the first quarter of next year.

“It is a privilege for our organization to succeed the Bromberg family’s ownership of these properties,” Alfred Carpionato, president of Carpionato Group, said in a statement. “Benny’s has been such a vital part of our community for generations. Like Benny’s, we, too, are a longstanding member of the same community.”

The Brombergs, who have owned Benny’s for nearly a century, announced in September they would close the retailer by the end of this year. They said at the time they hoped to sell their real estate – though not the Benny’s name – to another entity that would use it for retail.

“We’re especially pleased to be able to sell these properties to a local real estate development and management company who understands the Benny’s legacy and is familiar with our locations,” Howard Bromberg, president of Benny’s, said in a statement. The company declined further comment.

Carpionato, which has developed many major properties across the region, is expected to seek new retail tenants to take over the locations where Benny’s stores are currently.

“Mr. Carpionato has a great vision for properties, and he will apply the Carpionato touch and bring vibrant retail to each of these stores that will generate significant real estate tax dollars for the local community, lots of local jobs, and hopefully we’ll be able to re-employ all the former Benny’s employees,” Kelly Coates, a senior vice president at Carpionato, told Eyewitness News.

Benny’s said it had 715 employees at the time of its closure announcement and has been slowly laying them off as operations wind down. Only three stores remained open as of Monday.

Coates said Carpionato has already begun analyzing the individual Benny’s properties to determine the best potential uses for them, and said he is hopeful the company can move quickly on redeveloping them next year, though he cautioned that the planning and negotiation process “takes a long time.”

Tim Howes, associate business professor at Johnson & Wales University, said the Brombergs were likely pleased to sell all the locations in one deal rather than negotiate 29 separate ones. “I think this is a win-win for both parties,” he said.

The Brombergs are likely to make a substantial amount of money from the transaction. Just one of the 29 Benny’s locations involved in the deal, on Branch Avenue in Providence, has an assessed value of about $1.5 million, city records show.

Alfred Carpionato, 75, has become one of the best-known names in Rhode Island real estate over more than five decades in the business, and earlier this year was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. His properties include Chapel View in Cranston and the Crowne Plaza hotel in Warwick.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

Caroline Goggin contributed to this report.