Flatiron Building springs back to life with five new offices

Flatiron Building springs back to life with five new offices

'We want to see Main Street be a vibrant place again.' - Garrett Mancieri, Vice President of Gateway

WOONSOCKET - It's considered the gateway to Main Street and has a long history as a place for business, from banking and law, to commercial real estate.

After years of vacancy, 2 Main St., known as the Flatiron Building, came to life this week with a grand opening celebrating the start of Gateway Realty, Guerra Law Offices and Statewide Title & Closing Services. The attorneys and real estate brokers opened up shop in refurbished spaces in the beautiful, historic downtown building, with corner offices set aside for Michael Tarro, an attorney with offices currently in Providence, and former City Councilor Stella Guerra, the ex-wife and past business partner of a former state representative, Jon Brien.

"It's a good working relationship because we're all doing kind of the same thing," said Garrett Mancieri, vice president and real estate broker for Gateway. "We really want the building to be known as the place to go for law and real estate."

The highly visible structure at the corner of Main and Arnold streets was built in 1874 to house National Globe Bank. The building was originally three stories tall with a mansard roof and received its "flatiron" nickname because of its unique shape.

It was last occupied by Attorney Michael Demarco, who closed the office and moved to Providence several years ago.

The project to collaborate between a number of independent attorneys and the new real estate office began when Peter Wasylyk, a former state representative for Providence who works as an attorney there and also owned Teamwork Realty, took interest in the building. He approached Mancieri to handle the real estate portion of his new enterprise in northern Rhode Island, while Wasylyk ran Statewide.

As an agent for Keller Williams for the past five years, Mancieri had extensive knowledge and experience with downtown Woonsocket, particularly Main Street, and was glad to jump on board.

"He wanted me to be the face of the company," Mancieri explained. "And it was time for me to make a change."

But first, Mancieri felt the business could use a new name.

"I chose Gateway because it's a point of entry or exit," he said. The business's slogan is "guiding our clients through their entry or exit in real estate."

Mancieri is a member of the Main Street Streetscape and Beautification Committee and the Main Street Block Party Fundraising Committee. So for him, it was also an opportunity to practice what he preaches.

"When I was a struggling real estate agent and I had just started out, I didn't really have any business and the area that I focused on was Main Street. I saw how many vacant buildings there were and how beautiful they were inside," he said. Mancieri has since listed some major properties including the Hospital Trust building and the Stadium Building. "I work so hard on filling Main Street I might as well be right in the heart of it."

For Guerra, who used to work with Brien and Brien Law, the move to a fully independent corner office in the center of downtown just made sense.

"It's a great location because we're in the heart of the city," said Guerra.

Guerra's bilingual office handles real estate closings, specializing in short sales, and also works in family law, personal injury, bankruptcy, criminal law, and other fields. She said she's excited to be near the great downtown restaurants and part of a gradually rejuvenating Main Street.

"We all have to help each other in this economy so it's nice to be part of a group of small businesses," Guerra said.

In addition to practicing law related to real estate, Wasylyk works in consumer protection. He has additional offices in Johnston and East Providence.

Tarro, Mancieri said, "does everything else."

"We're trying to make sure every aspect is covered so that when somebody walks in the door, we'll have someone here to help them."

Tarro specializes in personal injury, wills and criminal defense. The businesses share a large conference room on the building's first floor, and a final tenant is in the process of signing on for the fifth and last remaining office space.

Mancieri said he's glad to lead the charge toward revitalizing downtown and that it's easier for this group to do it, since most of their business comes from referrals.

"We don't really need the foot traffic that a ground floor establishment would," he said. "We want to see Main Street be a vibrant place again, so it just makes sense for us to move in first."