Starting over, staying put – Professionals hit hard by the economy may be out of work but not out of time

April 7, 2010
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For the past several years, Gary Ferragamo was the face of Revere Beach’s most exciting new development, the Ocean Club.

He lived, breathed and ate Revere Beach – and even resided at the head of the Beach in the Point of Pines.

He was the Beach’s greatest salesman and a native of Revere as well.

Then September 2008 happened.

And the economy – and all the momentum that had been gained on the Beach through hard work from guys like Ferragamo – went south.

Now, the Ocean Club is on hold and has been for some time. Recent reports in the Boston media have all but buried the project.

Ferragamo’s position there was sidelined last May.

However, the rough economy hasn’t put his life on hold.

Last November, he married his girlfriend, Pepperell native Jennifer Coutu, and now they are planning to start a family – expecting a child in August.

And all of that without the security and satisfaction of being involved with a steady development such as the Ocean Club or any other local opportunity.

“There’s a lot up in the air now, but I want to stay in Revere and I’m looking for another opportunity to highlight my home town in the way that I was at Ocean Club,” he said. “No one is paying me, so yes I am officially unemployed right now, and I do not want to be. I want to work, and I would love to be involved in something great for Revere. What I don’t want to do is leave my hometown again.”

Starting Over, Not Giving Up

Ferragamo is just one of many stories of upper-echelon professionals who met with the worst of the economy and didn’t let it stop their lives. Many professionals who, under normal circumstances, wouldn’t find themselves unemployed, are ending up in improbable circumstances. None of them, though, are giving up.

All over the country, volunteerism is higher than it has been in decades as out of work professionals turn towards helping others and engaging in their community while they look for work.

Just as well, people like Ferragamo who have concentrated on their careers for so long have turned towards meeting their family goals.

Getting married.

Having children.

Becoming involved intimately in their neighborhood.

Ferragamo said he is taking the same tack as he looks for a better opportunity for work – and he’s hoping that soon he’ll land something in Revere so his enthusiasm for the city can continue professionally and privately.

“Revere still has the sleepy little beach community feeling,” he said. “I can’t think of another city within a 100-mile radius that has more potential than Revere. It remains undervalued, under-developed and still under the radar. Mix in the possible addition of gambling and beachfront development coming to Revere, and considering all the benefits of Revere, it’s proximity to Boston, the modestly-priced homes and its beautiful beach, and this has to be one of the most explosive cities in the country.”

Growing Up Here,

Staying Here

Ferragamo said he had the typical Italian upbringing in Revere.

His grandparents immigrated to Revere from Italy in the early 1900s, raising their children in the neighborhoods around Revere Beach.

Ferragamo’s father, the late Anthony Ferragamo, courted his wife, Francesca, on Revere Beach.

They, in turn, started a family and raised their children in Revere. And of course, they frequented the Beach.

Anthony Ferragamo was a successful photographer, operating Coronet Studios across from City Hall for nearly 50 years. Gary Ferragamo said that it was his father’s love for the city that rubbed off on him.

However, Ferragamo set off for California in his early adult years and stayed there for two decades until coming back home six years ago.

He relocated in the Pines, and soon after, he had become the face of Developer Steve Fustolo’s $170 million Ocean Club.

Ferragamo sold two-thirds of all the units himself, which amounted to about $33 million in pre-construction sales in the beginnings of the tough real estate market. And despite where the project sits now, Ferragamo said that it was quite successful and would have been quite successful had a down economy not hit.

“Show me a similar project anywhere in the country that has done better than we have, and in the same time frame, and I’ll eat my hat,” he said.

The Job Search

For those in Ferragamo’s shoes, the job search is tough, frustrating and sometimes impossible.

While scanning the papers for jobs that fit his experiences, he often sees opportunities in other parts of the state or in other states entirely.

The urge is to pick up his budding family and move out of Revere.

However, he said he also sees the front pages of those same newspapers, and in those articles are details of emerging developments and opportunities in Revere – such as Waterfront Square on Revere Beach and expanded gaming at Suffolk Downs.

That, he said, gives him hope that there is an opportunity in his hometown on the horizon, and that he has a good chance at being a part of, once again, selling others on the possibilities in Revere.

“There’s a lot of potential here and there always has been,” said Ferragamo. “That’s what my father saw in this city and his father before him. That’s what I want my children to see, and perhaps they can even live out that potential as well. I’d like to be a part of making that happen.”

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