Woonsocket Call

First the downtown train depot, now potentiall­y a city residence

Wheels appear to be in motion for BSRC chairmain

- By RUSS OLIVO rolivo@woonsocket­call.com

WOONSOCKET — The Boston Surface Rail Company just leased the historic downtown train depot from the state, but there are signs the company’s chairman is considerin­g buying a home here as well.

Vincent J. Bono is under contract to purchase a sprawling Georgian manse located at 507 Harris Ave., according to Edward Bishop, the seller’s agent.

Bishop said he’s still accepting backup offers on the North End property in case the deal falls through, but he said he’s anticipati­ng Bono will close on the sale.

“This is where I think it’s going,” he said.

Bono, who holds various business interests, is chief executive officer of Boston Surface Railroad Company, which was formed over a year ago to establish commuter rail service between Worcester and Providence. BSRC’s $3 million, privately financed plan calls for one intermedia­ry stop in Woonsocket – the only one – a move that would restore passenger rail service to the city for the first time in decades. Bono aims to get the company up and running by the second quarter of 2017, though the city-based pit stop is likely to be the last peg of the plan to fall into place.

BSRC has also begun leasing the Providence & Worcester Railroad depot

located at One Depot Square. The state Department of Transporta­tion, the owner of the building, has signed a $1,000-a-month, five-year lease with BSRC, which intends to use the picturesqu­e site as a passenger depot. The lease is good through December 2020.

The residentia­l parcel Bono has dibs on is one of the best-known architectu­ral landmarks in the North End. It was built in 1955 as a home for Syvia Darman Medoff and her husband, Dr. Edward Medoff, a prominent city physician. Both are deceased.

The property was built for the couple by Arthur I. Darman, the late industrial­ist who is best known for erecting the Stadium Theatre in 1926, along with the adjoining Stadium Office Building. Darman was already living in an impressive brick mansion with his wife, Frances, when he decided to build a home for his daughter next door to his own. Both properties are listed as having addresses on Harris Avenue, but they are accessible only from Winter Court, a secluded cul-de-sac opposite Cold Spring Park

The Darmans were also famous for getting cozy with American presidents. Richard Gordon Darman, a nephew of Syvia and grandson of Arthur, served as budget director to President George H.W. Bush. He also held senior White House positions under President Ronald Reagan. Darman died in 2008.

A few weeks ago, the contents of the 507 Harris Ave. were auctioned off in preparatio­n for the sale of the property by surviving members of the Medoff estate.

Bishop intentiona­lly omitted the address of the home from real estate advertisin­g, apparently in an effort to discourage curious trespasser­s from bothering the neighbors. It is currently the most expensive home for sale in Woonsocket on the real estate search site, RI Living. The asking price is $459,000.

The home is described as a brick Georgian manor with four bedrooms, 3.5 baths and 6,564 square feet of living space. The property includes 41,363 square feet of land – more than an acre, which is rare anywhere in the city.

Even in the North End, which flourished as a 19th century enclave of mill barons, bankers and whitecolla­r profession­als who commission­ed architectu­rally unique homes for themselves, the Darman residences stand out – or they would, if you could see them. Both are largely hidden from street-side view by dense, mature landscapin­g.

Neighbors of 507 Harris Ave. are aware of Bono’s interest in the property. One man who asked not to be identified didn’t recognize Bono by name but he said all the direct abutters know the buyer is associated with an individual who is launching some kind of railroad business.

“We heard it was a done deal,” he said.

If the sale goes through, it would actually be Bono’s second known real estate acquisitio­n in the city. On Monday, the City Council approved the sale of a parcel of roughly 4,000 square feet on Cato Street to Bono for $12,075.

“This purchase is purely

The personal,” Bono told

Call

via e-mail earlier this week. He did not elaborate, however, and efforts to reach him for comment about the North End property on Wednesday were not successful.

Bono is a Massachuse­tts resident whose business interests have been largely centered in the Greater Boston area. Some of his past experience includes highlevel positions in the telecommun­ications and fiber optics industries.

A partial list of past profession­al positions listed on his LinkedIn page includes chief operating officer of Boston Datacenter­s Inc.; president and chief operating office of Genesis Fiber Communicat­ions; managing partner, Space and Power Systems; vice president for engineerin­g, Global NAPs.

From January 2012 to August 2014, Bono was also the owner of Diamond in the Rough Bar and Grill in Yarmouthpo­rt, Mass., on Cape Cod.

 ?? Ernest A. Brown/The Call ?? Vincent J. Bono, chief executive office of Boston Surface Railroad Company, is reportedly under contract to purchase this sprawling Georgia mansion in Woonsocket.
Ernest A. Brown/The Call Vincent J. Bono, chief executive office of Boston Surface Railroad Company, is reportedly under contract to purchase this sprawling Georgia mansion in Woonsocket.

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