SALISBURY — While other developers pull back, waiting for the dour economy to brighten before investing in local communities, one Salisbury family is progressing at full speed, pouring millions into Salisbury Beach.
The Capolupo family, headquartered at SPS New England Inc. on Elm Street and led by President Wayne Capolupo, is working on reviving its third Salisbury Beach business with a complete renovation of the oceanside Pavilion.
Forty construction workers from a number of regional businesses have gutted the first floor of the two-story, 46,000-square-foot building and are working on building a new year-round restaurant, a function room and a music venue there.
"I'd estimate they're spending easily around $2 million based on the discussions I've had with Wayne," said Salisbury Economic Development director Chris Reilly. "He's a real player with a vision for the beach, and he's moving forward with it, while other developers — like Stephen Karp with his plans in Newburyport — are pulling back. Wayne's acting quickly and investing the family's own resources in the project, as well as other financing, I imagine. He's creating a place, taking a risk, and this should have a huge impact for Salisbury."
Capolupo said that a three-phase development planned for the first floor of the Pavilion by mid- to late-June will open a 175-seat oceanside restaurant, bar and deck on the south side of the first floor.
Planned for the fall, is the 250-person capacity function/banquet hall in the center, and by next spring, the hope is an entertainment venue will be complete at the first floor's north end, seating 400 people for performances.
Expected to create 130 jobs when completed, the Pavilion is not intended to be the new gathering place for the 20-something crowd. Its target market is a more sophisticated demographic of a 30- to 55-year-old clientele.
Although the Pavilion building and the real estate upon which it sits is still owned by Harold Nabhan, the Capolupos purchased the outdated Pavilion business a couple of years ago, at the same time they purchased the business portion of Nabhan's tired Sands and 5 O'Clock Club lounges. They also purchased options to buy all the real estate properties from him in the future.
One by one, business plans were developed and renovations were completed that turned the 5 O'Clock Club into to the seasonal SurfSide5 seaside lounge, and the Sands into the year-round Capris Italian restaurant. Not to duplicate the Capris menu, the Pavilion's soon-to-be-named restaurant will offer fresh seafood and steak, with a focus on local products.
It's clear the Capolupo family — whose main base is its heavy equipment construction, road and bridge building company — believes that Salisbury's currently deteriorated Beach Center has great potential and they're willing to bank on it, Reilly said.
Also evident is that the five Capolupo siblings aren't willing to wait for Cambridge-based Thompson Group to initiate its plans to raze and redevelop the Broadway nucleus of Salisbury Beach Center. After two years of negotiations with property owners in and around Broadway, Thompson Group principals still don't have ownership or development agreements in place with all property owners, Reilly said. A small group of holdouts, have delayed progress on the Thompson Group's redevelopment effort.
"The Thompson Group project could be five to seven years in coming," Reilly said. "But, Wayne's the only one who can do this in Salisbury now."
Wayne Capolupo said recent summer beach festivals he and his family helped organize and fund through the Salisbury Beach Partnership organization over the past two summers showed them the public wants Salisbury Beach brought back to the full-service family summer resort it was in the first half of the 20th century, and the one he and his siblings grew up enjoying. After a day at the beach, or enjoying a maritime festival, or while renting a beach cottage for a week, Salisbury's visitors are ready for quality places at Salisbury Beach, Capolupo said.
Reilly said Capolupo isn't charging in uninformed with unsubstantiated pipe dreams. Capolupo has traveled to investigate other Atlantic coast seaside resorts that had fallen onto hard time and come back, like the community in New Jersey that the Thompson Group helped resurrect, Reilly said. Capolupo did his market research and came away with the belief that Salisbury Beach's time is now, Reilly said.
Capolupo said the long-term plans for all three of the Salisbury Beach businesses is to tear them down, once he purchases the property itself from Nabhan. He'll then rebuild a large mixed-use, commercial/residential seaside development called Oceana Victoria. With the cost of investment, Reilly estimates that within the next five to seven years, Capolupo's renovations should pay off, and not only for the family.
"The usual (spending) multiplier for tourism businesses is that $3 (are generated within the local money supply) for every $1 (of tourism money spent)," Reilly said.
Along with the money added to the local economy from the construction and full-time jobs the Pavilion will create, Capolupo will buy and serve local ingredients at the Pavilion, such as produce and fish, prepared in an environmentally sound atmosphere. The family is also reducing the business' carbon footprint, Capolupo said, using the most energy-efficient building materials and restaurant equipment available, hoping to be certified as an official "green restaurant," by the Massachusetts Green Restaurant Association.
"This is very exciting and encouraging," Reilly said. "With Wayne's move, he's bound to stimulate others to want to invest in Salisbury Beach."