Wareham native, business mogul has big plans for Main Street

Mar 15, 2021

When Danny Warren first saw the old Greer Lumber site on Main Street between Besse Park and the British Landing Condominiums, it wasn’t much to look at — but that hadn’t stopped a Wareham family from appreciating it. Among the rubble and broken bottles, a family was enjoying the fresh air as a child drove a remote-control car. 

Warren found himself inspired to turn the location into a new local hotspot — while also maintaining the land as a space for the community. 

Warren grew up in Wareham, and went on to launch several companies that earned international success due to his unique environmentally-friendly epoxies and machinery used to apply those epoxies.

That technology, used in sewer repairs in Swifts Beach and projects across the world, has earned Warren significant wealth that he wants to invest in his hometown. 

Warren’s plans for the site include a 16-slip marina, a restaurant and wedding venue, a restaurant that will be open year-round and an ice cream stand. 

The plans for the marina were presented to the Conservation Commission on March 3, when commission members said they wanted more details before issuing a decision.

In part because the land is in a flood plain, and in part because he hopes to make the space one enjoyed by the community, Warren plans to put both buildings on stilts to preserve open, park-like space underneath. The restaurant would have glass, garage-style doors that could be pulled down at night. 

“The vision for the site is to preserve as much open land as possible and make it beautiful,” Warren said.

Warren said he hopes the site will be one that is frequented by people from Wareham and surrounding towns, and said it could host events like flea markets or dog shows on the weekends. 

The proposed buildings would be designed to reflect period-authentic details from notable buildings in town like the Tremont Nail Factory office building and the Fearing Hill Tavern, and would be built with authentic techniques and materials. The restaurant and wedding venue would have a modern twist: glass walls affording those inside views of the river and Besse Park. 

The entryway of one building would be copied from that at the Fearing Hill Tavern.

“If I can do the things I want to do, it’s going to be an extremely unique place and, hopefully, people will have the opportunity to run their own small business,” Warren said, noting that he hopes to have at least the ice cream stand operated by a local businessperson.

Warren also hopes to find a way to share the history of the site, including the Revolutionary War battles fought there, with visitors.

Warren said the development would be high-end, and he would make certain that it did not host late-night parties or become a noisy disruption.

“When I say high-end, I don't mean high-end expensive," Warren said. "I mean high-end nice." 

Among the precautions he’s taking to protect the neighborhood would be a firm end-time for events and extensive soundproofing on the side of the building facing British Landing. 

Warren said he hoped the wedding venue, in particular, would also bring customers to other local companies like hotels.

The restaurants are, in a way, a return to Warren’s roots. His first business was washing dishes at several local restaurants, where he developed an interest in cooking.

“I’m an accidental millionaire that’s really a cook,” Warren said. 

After selling two of his companies — Warren Environmental and A&W Maintenance — Warren still owns and operates Warren Composites International, but he has a little more time on his hands.

“I’m 69 years old and I’m just excited as hell to end up where I started: cooking in Wareham,” Warren said.

So far, he said, he’s loved working with the town. 

“You could not have asked any town to be better to work with than Wareham,” Warren said. “They’re there for you.”

Warren hopes to invest in Wareham through a program developed during the Trump administration that allows people to avoid paying capital gains tax by investing in “opportunity zones” in low-income areas like Wareham. That means that he is under some time pressure, as the Biden administration has expressed no interest in extending the program. If Warren is not able to spend the funds fairly quickly, he’ll be hit with a large tax bill, plus interest.

But he’s committed to the work.

“Wareham is a diamond in the rough, as far as I’m concerned,” Warren said.

Warren said one of the remaining challenges for the project — typical for Wareham — is parking. However, he has secured a parking lot nearby and could offer valet service if necessary. 

Warren will be at the site, weather permitting, from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 20; Sunday, March 21; Saturday, March 27; and Sunday, March 28. He invites anyone to come by and see the site and his plans, and share their ideas about how to make Wareham a better place.

The project will be back before the Conservation Commission on April 7.