State grant allows local businesses to expand. See how these shops plan to use the monies

September 27, 2023 : The Herald News, Audrey Cooney

FALL RIVER — Three local organizations will undergo major expansions thanks to a state grant aimed at rehabilitating aging buildings.

“We’re really bringing back all that history in the building,” said Shannon Raposo, co-owner of Primo Hospitality Solutions.

Raposo was referring to a brick building on Water Street near Battleship Cove. Her business is a new recipient of a $125,000 grant from Mass Development that will enable her and her partner, co-owner James Primo, to renovate the building and transform it to include a full-service Italian restaurant and event venue.

They plan to rebrand their business as Primo on Water Street, to encompass the new restaurant and venue plus their existing bartending school and catering operation. The renovated space will include windows to allow restaurant diners to watch bartending students as they practice during classes.

“It’s gonna be completely immersive for the guests," Raposo said.

What is MassDevelopment?

MassDevelopment is a state agency focused on development and economic growth. On Monday, it announced $2.2 million in grants to support rehabilitating 22 properties in gateway cities across the state.

“These projects will bring new life to highly visible properties, helping draw in new patrons, advance business growth and entrepreneurship, and improve the vibrancy of neighborhoods," MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera said in the announcement.

Raposo said they hope to unveil the new and improved bartending school plus the event venue in November and the new restaurant by the new year.

Thyme Blossom expanding, new commercial space

Along with Primo Hospitality Solutions, two other Fall River groups received grant money from this round of funding.

RCSI Property LLC received $125,000 for a major overhaul of its building at 10 Purchase St., an office building in downtown Fall River that includes the Thyme Blossom coffee shop.

Joseph Holdiman of RCSI Property LLC says Thyme Blossom will expand to a new space across the hall from its current location.

"We’ve been wanting to do that for several years so we can do more job training," he said.

Along with its current offerings like coffees and sandwiches, the expanded Thyme Blossom will include what Holdiman described as an Italian market, with specialty meats, cheeses and dressings.

"It’ll be more of a market set-up than just a café," he said.

The old Thyme Blosson space will be transformed into a revolving space to host new businesses that are transitioning from a pop-up or home-based model to a brick and mortar location. Holdiman said they plan to cover part of tenant's rent so they can develop their new businesses.

The project will also include redoing the nearby parking lot on Bedford Street to become a hosting spot for pop-up markets and community events and the nearby old bank drive-thru as new commercial space.

"We’re really trying to focus on community-building with these spaces," Holdiman said.

The 10 Purchase St. project is set to wrap up next spring.

Youth Musical Theater practice space

And, Youth Musical Theater Corporation received $110,000 to finish its practice and performance space at the Creative Class building at 64 Durfee St.

The three-building complex at 64 Durfee St., commonly known as Durfee Tech, was built in 1895 and originally housed a textile school. Two years ago, it was redeveloped into apartments and commercial space.

“The completion of this project will allow the organization to operate at full capacity, stage full productions, and explore new revenue streams by renting out its rehearsal space and theater,” MassDevelopment said.