Sal Lupoli Sets Sights on Restoring Another Mill Building


A decade after Salvatore Lupoli imagined the transformation of 1.4 million square feet of abandoned mill space at the edge of the Merrimack River in Lawrence, Mass., into an office and retail center, the chief executive of Sal’s Pizza, is poised for the next phase.

The Lupoli Cos. has purchased Ruk Realty Corp., owner of the 132,759-square-foot former Comfort Furniture building at 145 Thorndike St. in Lowell. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Lupoli bought the corporation and not the property directly. Lupoli signed a loan for up to $1.5 million loan on the parcel from Lowell Five Cent Savings to purchase the four-story property, according to public records.

For decades before Lupoli arrived in Lawrence, millions of square feet of Lawrence mill buildings stood vacant and decaying, an eyesore along I-495. Lupoli began his quest in 2003 when he searched for space to build a larger commissary for his growing chain. While one developer never delivered on a promise to transform the abandoned Wood Worsted Mill on Merrimack Street into condominiums, Lupoli bought an adjacent mill for $3 million in 2003.

Following the purchase of the first mill, Lupoli bought nine more dilapidated buildings on the 25-acre parcel that he renamed Riverwalk Properties, spending nearly $100 million on acquisition and renovation since 2003. The investment has paid off with nearly 200 companies and 2,000 employees.

Later, Lupoli spent another $20 million to renovate the three-story factory at 354 Merrimack St. into office and retail space that features exposed brick, wood beams and river views from floor-to-ceiling windows. Today, Lupoli oversees a family empire that started in 1990 with an 800-square-foot pizza shop in Salem, N.H. His holdings include more than three dozen retail outlets and $40 million in annual sales.

Gerry-Lynn Darcy, vice president of real estate for the Lupoli Cos., said the company plans to work with the city of Lowell to devise a creative mixed-use development. She said construction is not expected to commence until next year.

“Over the next 12-14 months, we intend to have a thoughtful, collaborative approach to developing the site,” she said.


By Thomas Grillo  ·  January 23, 2014  ·  Boston Business Journal  ·  Original Article