SWANSEA — “This is going to be a castle,” Joe Estrela said.
Perhaps not literally, but the Swansea resident says his multi-faceted activities and entertainment complex now being built on Route 6 will definitely have a medieval flair.
Estrela said the idea of creating a family oriented, indoor recreation and dining facility had been percolating in his mind the past 10 years.
A vacation stay in a former castle in Ireland that had been converted into a hotel sealed the deal in terms of historical motif.
The two-story 87,000-square-foot building that will house Silver Stone Castle & Family Entertainment is being constructed on a 19-acre site at 358 GAR Highway — which, up until 2016, had been a miniature golf, driving range and batting cage business called Coles River Family Fun Center.
Estrela estimates his total investment, including purchase of the land in 2019, eventually will likely come close to $20 million.
What types of activities are planned
The somewhat eclectic mixture of activities and amenities will feature a two-story, electric go-kart track, a “resort-style” 120-foot-long swimming pool and a restaurant/tavern with seating for 230 with an option for warm-weather, outdoor dining.
He said his independent restaurant won’t be a chain eatery and will feature basic American fare but with a Portuguese overtones.
Silver Stone Castle & Family Entertainment will also include a 220-person ballroom that can be broken up into separate sections, four to five smaller birthday party and private event rooms, an arcade with games and a rock climbing wall.
Estrela says if Swansea selectmen give him the green light he would like to keep the entire facility open from 11 a.m. to as late as midnight.
He initially considered incorporating laser tag, amusement rides and an overhead rope course but ultimately decided that it wouldn’t be feasible.
The rear of the building, Estrela said, will be equipped with an outdoor deck with a clear view of the Coles, or Cole’s, River that extends from Dighton through Rehoboth and Swansea.
He said the interior structure will be equipped with soundproof walls to prevent audible spillover from one section of the facility to the other.
Estrela says his father, Gabriel, owner and founder of Atlantic Lighting, a commercial lighting manufacturer in the Fall River Industrial Park, and his mother, Eduarda, have supported him in terms of monetary investment.
Estrela noted that prior to embarking on his ambitious project he’d spent 23 years working at his father’s business.
He says his mother, in particular, has collaborated with him to design and make the front entrance area of the property more attractive.
In addition to a photogenic archway, suitable for special events, and 8-foot-high rose bushes, plans are in the works to create a waterfall and at least two small ponds with water fountains.
Estrela expects to eventually hire as many as 120 people to work at Silver Stone Castle & Family Entertainment, which he said should be open to the public by next September.
He says his sister Aimee Cyr is the franchisee of the new Camp Bow Wow dog daycare and boarding center, which sits less than half a mile away at 222 GAR Highway.
“My family now owns the land from the edge of her building to Coles River,” Estrela said.
Estrela says the town’s board of selectmen have been “gracious and supportive” of his plans to redevelop what for the past five years has been a large, unused tract of land.
This includes, he said, their having granted him a full liquor license well in advance of opening his restaurant.
Traffic concerns on Route 6
Estrela said access to his site from heavily traveled Route 6 will incorporate a single entrance lane and two exit lanes for right- and left-hand turns.
What he really wants is for the state to install traffic lights to create a three-way intersection on the only section of Route 6 in Swansea that he says has a speed limit of 50 mph.
“It’s a long strip of road here (and) it would be beneficial for everybody,” he said.
For that to happen, Estrela said, the town would have to petition the state to agree to install traffic signals to ensure that visitors can more safely drive in and out of the site.
Estrela is a graduate of Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Fall River. He calls himself “a hands-on guy” who built his own house and still enjoys operating construction equipment.
Before embarking on his project he says he sought out market research on similar business ventures but had difficulty finding what he wanted.
He instead took trips in 2017 and 2018 to Orlando where an expo show with a variety of different vendors is held each year.
“That’s where I really learned most of my stuff,” Estrela said.
He says there will be 300 parking spaces, most of which will be behind the building.
Estrela initially planned to have closer to 400 spaces but was forced to reduce that number because of wetland and flood zone restrictions.
“I had to add eight feet to lift the building,” off of the flood zone, he said.
He’s going to remove a row of old telephone poles behind his building — which will also have a number of additions to accommodate various activities — where netting used to be attached to catch driving-range golf balls.
Estrela said he envisions Silver Stone Castle & Family Entertainment as a first-rate operation.
“I pride myself on cleanliness and beauty,” he said. “Everything has to be clean and look good.”
'A Swansea guy'
Estrela said he got offers from officials in Seekonk, Rehoboth and Somerset to locate his entertainment and activities complex in their towns.
And even though he said he believes he could have saved some money by settling in any of those three municipalities he ultimately opted for his hometown.
“I’m a Swansea guy,” Estela said. “I spent a little more so I could stay in my town.”
He also notes that the town stands to benefit from the property taxes he’ll be paying but says it’s too early to say exactly how much it will be.
Charles Winokoor may be reached at email@example.com. Support local journalism and subscribe to The Herald News today.
This article originally appeared on The Herald News: A $20 million family activities complex in Swansea to open next fall