Pet food distributor buys Chester Building for $2.2 million

Pet food distributor buys Chester Building for $2.2 million

PAWTUCKET – Pet Food Experts Inc., a major pet food and pet supply distributor, has agreed to buy the downtown Chester Building at 175 Main St. for $2.2 million. The deal, which was announced Wednesday evening by representatives from the company, the city and the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency, will allow the company to make the building its corporate headquarters.

“We are very excited about what this means for Pawtucket, especially for our downtown,” said Mayor Donald Grebien in a statement. “Pet Food Experts will bring an influx of professionals that we believe will provide a catalyst for further economic investment in our city. My economic team and I will continue working closely with them to assure their entry into Pawtucket is as smooth as possible.”

Pet Food Experts would bring an immediate 70 jobs to the three-story office building, according to Grebien's administration, helping to build the "greater urban density" city officials have been targeting. The building also houses the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center and Blackstone Valley Tourism Council. The purchase preserves the Visitor Center, Tourism Council, theater and bus stop areas on the first floor of the building.

City officials had listed the building for $3.2 million.

“With so much of our company and family history here in the state of Rhode Island, we are thrilled to find the perfect place in the heart of Pawtucket to accommodate our growing company,” said Michael Baker, owner and president.

“This is an outstanding Rhode Island based, fast-growing company that will bring new jobs and investment to the city’s downtown,” said Barney Heath, executive director of the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency. “We look forward to assisting their continued growth and success.”

Pet Food Experts has engaged Vision 3 Architects to plan the interior renovations needed for its headquarters office space.

Pet Food Experts is a fourth generation family business that began in 1936. Originally named Rumford Aquarium (now Rumford Pet Center), its owners say it has developed into a leading pet food and pet supplies wholesale distribution company. Pet Food Experts currently delivers to more than 3,000 independent retailers in 22 states from three warehouse locations, including nearby Cumberland. The company was named recipient of the 2012 Ken Chancey Distributor of the Year award by the Pet Industry Distributors Association and has been named one of the state’s best places to work by Best Places to Work in Rhode Island.

The Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency, a quasi-city agency, acquired the 55,863-square-foot brick building at 175 Main 1992 and after renovations has operated it for a number of tenants. The 1969 Chester Building was home of the former Peerless department store.


Is a pet food distributor the highest and best use for a property in the city's arguably most visible and photogenic touristic zone? Remember that this is not a privately owned building; it was purchased, redeveloped and maintained with public funds.

Perhaps if they had lowered the $3.2 million listing price closer to the $2.2 million that they accepted, they might have been able to attract other offers.

But at least a pet store is better than a pot store.

If you read this story you will understand this is not a pet store, it is going to be the national corporate office for a growing local business.
There will not be any pets or animals for sale but it will employ 70 people looking to eat in local restaurants and shop in local stores. It is a clean business bringing professional people into an otherwise underused building.
So it's to the mayor's credit he sought out a business owner looking to spend money to redo this building. Seeing that the rest of the city is full of senior citizen towers and social service agencies, this is great news.