NORTH KINGSTOWN—When Lynn Moran sits in the conference room of her office at the Meadows Commercial Office Building located at 1130 Ten Rod Road, she is not far from reminders of the past, present and future.
On the wall hangs an oversized framed newspaper article about her father, longtime North Kingstown developer Paul Lischio, with a headline that reads “Builder aims for heritage of quality”. A quick look outside the window shows a pile of dirt where a new septic system will be installed on the Meadows property. On the conference room table lies a stack of blueprints for all the other projects she and her husband Steve are up to as part of Moran Management, LLC.
This small space says everything you need to know about the Morans, one of the busiest families in terms of development in North Kingstown today. With an eye on what has happened before, what the current trends are and what the future will one day hold, it is here that the Morans put their plans together for what they consider the future of ‘their town’.
It’s a process that spans three generations, and counting, and all you have to do is take a look at the results to see that it’s working.
“A lot of it had to do with his foresight,” Steve says of Lischio. “I swear he’s got a crystal ball hidden somewhere. That guy just sees the future and had long-range plans and properties that he bought that he knew wouldn’t come to fruition for years and years and now we’re starting to see it.”
Steve and Lynn started simply. While he was a former Providence police officer turned developer, she knew pretty early on in life what her calling would be.
“My family had always been in the business,” Lynn says, explaining that, apart from a year away for grad school in Dallas, she has always been involved in one way or another with the properties her family owns. “I came back when they started Fiddlesticks and then, when my dad retired, he split the businesses between my sister and brother-in-law and us.”
Lynn and Steve’s work relationship is one of give and take.
“I tend to take the concept to fruition from the development, the construction, the process,” he says. “She’ll handle all the financing, the day-to-day operations as far as personnel and that kind of thing so the joke is I’ll have an idea and she’ll say go get it approved and ask how much and then she’ll tell me to do it cheaper and get the financing for it. Then I’ll do it, give her the bills and tell her to pay them.”
“It seems like a good fit,” Steve says.
The impact the Morans have had on NK, especially recently, is undeniable.
At a time when North Kingstown appears to be one of the most business-friendly communities in the state—a brand new Marriott hotel just opened in Quonset two weeks ago, the Wickford Junction train station is rapidly coming together and it appears the Walmart on Ten Rod Road is gearing up for an expansion—the Morans sit in the middle of some of the biggest projects on the town’s slate.
In addition to the Meadows, the Morans own the Scrabbletown Professional Center, a series of Commercial Office Buildings located in the Wickford Junction area, have an interest in both the land where Stop and Shop is located on Rt. 1 and 102, and the Fiddlesticks site and have recently begun outlining plans to rebuild the Heritage House Apartments Complex.
This is on top of their work at the Residences at Saw Mill Square, a set of residential condominiums and apartments located between Rts. 1 and 403 in NK, that recently finished construction of two of a planned nine buildings.
Not everyone is in love with the changes Lynn and Steve have made.
For some people, the expansion of business in North Kingstown is a cause for concern. At what point does the desire for growth ruin a community’s character?
It’s a question Lynn and Steve make sure to keep in the back of their minds any time they begin a project.
“I think a part of it is people need to have a longer-range vision sometimes,” Steve says. “People don’t want to hear it but business is the lifeline of a community. Where do you get your money? Property tax. And you know what? Homeowners are hurting. Businesses are supplying the property tax and I think that’s something that people are getting a rude awakening to.”
It’s that type of criticism that drove the Morans to focus on community first when designing SawMill Square.
When Lynn and Steve were originally designing the project, the idea was to create condos and apartments that provided people with the basic amenities. But after a detailed survey found that potential residents wanted features like a clubhouse or a patio, the Morans spent the extra money to make sure those features were included.
Ultimately, it’s that attention to detail that Lynn and Steve hope keeps them moving forward.
Because if there’s one lesson they’ve learned from their long pedigree in the world of commercial real estate, it’s that you’ve got to be proud of the items you put your name on.
Reputation, as they say, is all you have in the business world.
“I think the important thing is her father’s philosophy, which has always been to grow the family business and at least give the next generation an opportunity to do something with it,” he says. “I tell my guys on a regular basis that my name is literally on this … I don’t want to be embarrassed and rent it to somebody that’s unhappy with what we do and, more importantly, if my kids ever decide to get into it, they need to get into a business that’s got some strength and the only strength you have in that business is your reputation.”
Next for the Morans is phase two of the Sawmill Squares project. Beyond that, Steve and Lynn are focusing their efforts on rebuilding Heritage House by knocking down the 34 units currently located on the property at 165 Namcook Road and turning it into a 104-unit mixed-use development.
That effort is currently still in the planning stage and is, at the very least, according to Steve, a “couple of years out”.