Robert Deeb, a long-time Winthrop resident who won a state basketball championship as a guard at Don Bosco High School, is in a key position to shape Winthrop’s future growth and overall image and appearance of the Winthrop Center business district.
Deeb, part owner of MSA Mortgage, a firm located on Fremont Street, has purchased a number of landmark properties in town over the past few years and has begun a transformation of the buildings, overseeing massive rehabilitation projects while planning major cosmetic changes that will enhance the beauty of the Center.
Deeb’s first acquisition in 2006 was the building at 5 Fremont St. that houses MSA Mortgage and four other offices. Deeb and his business partner, Chris Young, completely renovated the formerly vacant building that once housed a bowling alley.
Deeb then acquired the well-known Wadsworth Building on Winthrop Street that consists of commercial storefronts including Brown’s Pharmacy, the Meat Market, Cimino’s Café, Gio’s Barber Shop, Ferrari Estate Jewelers, along with offices on the upper floors. Once again, Deeb conducted a total rehabilitation project of the three-story building.
Deeb has added the landmark Michael’s Mall, long a staple of the Center and owned by the Caruccio family, to his real estate portfolio. He bought the property, which includes the parking lot in front of the mall, for $3.1 million.
At Michael’s Mall, Deeb’s influence is already visible and residents will see a new and softened look to the exterior of the stores and the parking lot.
Boston Tae Kwon Do karate studio has moved into the former 9,000-square-foot site of the former Move Fitness facility. Young opened a new yogurt store, Yo So Good, that was designed by Winthrop resident Joanna Ciampa, a prominent interior designer and artist. The T and T Convenience Store, United States Post Office, and Paul Caruccio’s Hallmark store will continue to operate at the mall.
There are big plans for Paesan’s Restaurant’s owned by Robert Pisani. Deeb and Young will join with Pisani to expand and renovate Paesan’s Restaurant, making it a 5,000 square-foot restaurant. Ciampa will be the interior designer for the restaurant that will remain open during renovations.
“That project will completely solidify the whole mall where everything will be completely rented and occupied with long-term leases,” said Deeb. “Now we can focus on renovating and designing the exterior of the building and the landscaping and lighting of the parking lot.”
Deeb said he has not made a decision whether to change the name of the mall.
Deeb’s most recent acquisition for a price of $250,000 was the Somerset Avenue property that formerly housed CVS and Dollar stores. He purchased it from the East Boston Health Center, who had intended to open a clinic on the site. Deeb has gutted the vacant building and fixed the water system.
“We have developers looking at the property,” said Deeb. “I’d like to see some different businesses I’m looking to create [business] traffic in the center.”
Deeb also purchased the two stores adjacent to the Somerset property for more than $200,000. The Blackstrap Barbecue restaurant will soon have an expanded restaurant and bar area.
Away from the Center, Deeb and a business partner have purchased the vacant 2.8 acres of land at the end of Tafts Avenue, located to the left of the entrance of the Deer Island Treatment Plant. That real estate transaction was for $1.2 million.
That’s four major acquisitions in the past year for Robert Deeb.
“I believe in the town of Winthrop,” said Deeb. “I believe that businesses can prosper here. I want to bring people to Winthrop Center and make is a business-friendly district. I’ve seen businesses like La Siesta and Hong Kong Dragon who made investments in our town, have run really good businesses, and have been successful. People in Winthrop are coming out of their houses and there’s something for them to go to and enjoy.”
At MSA Mortgage, Deeb has seen first hand the arrival of new residents in the town. “We’re the leading lender in town and we find a lot of young professionals moving in to Winthrop because of its proximity to Boston, the amenities, the overall safety of our town, our beaches, and our people.”
Deeb believes that the new Winthrop middle/high school will be a tremendous draw for families with school-age children.
He said the leadership and cooperation of Winthrop officials is crucial to the town’s continued growth.
“[Town Manager] Jim McKenna has been great for the town in moving it forward, but we have to be business friendly,” said Deeb.
Deeb grew up in the South End of Boston and moved to Winthrop in 1983. His father and three brothers also reside in the town. His son, Robert, is a senior at Curry College, while his younger son, Zach, is a captain of the Winthrop High School football team that is considered a strong contender for a Northeastern Conference championship.
Deeb also has two older daughters, Bianca and Christina, who are products of the Winthrop school system.