Mr. Joseph A. Festa, one of the most successful and prominent real estate developers in the city’s history, died on March 26 at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, after a valiant battle against illness. He was 89.
Mr. Festa and his company, Joseph Festa Construction Company, built more than 200 homes in West Revere and many other properties throughout the city, including the current Citizens Bank Building on Broadway, the adjacent TD Bank Building (formerly the Broadway National Bank Building), and the well-known Atlantic Towers apartment building at the beginning of Revere Beach.
Mr. Festa was highly regarded as a visionary who always had the best interests of the city in his heart. As far back as the 1960s, Mr. Festa foresaw the need for additional parking in the Broadway business district and worked toward the creation of the current Municipal Parking Lot.
He was a founder and president of the Revere Chamber of Commerce, mentoring other business owners and speaking on their behalf at government meetings and business events.
Mr. Festa, always professionally attired in a shirt and tie, was a man of many accomplishments who had an outstanding work ethic, often working long hours at his offices on Broadway. But despite his work commitment, he always found time to spend with his wife and family and enjoy the achievements – athletic and academic – of his three children and four grandchildren. Holiday gatherings, family barbecues and pool parties were a fun time at the Festa home – “a happy home.”
“He was such a family man,” said his son, John Festa. “He loved his kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. He was always there for us. He always made you feel like you were the best. He was a very proud man.”
John Festa said his father loved watching his children and grandchildren play sports. He was also a huge boxing fan, often watching greats such as Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and George Foreman compete in mega-fights when the heavyweight division ruled the sport.
Boarding a boat with his mother, Assunta, and his siblings, Joseph Festa came to the United States at the age of two.
“My son, who was working in New York at Ellis Island, framed the boat that he came over on and gave it to him before he passed,” recalled John Festa.
Mr. Festa started his construction company in 1953. He purchased land near the current Whalen School and built 35 homes in a development known as Colonial Acres. The new homeowners praised their homes’ sturdy construction and the integrity and honor in which Mr. Festa conducted his business.
Interestingly, Mr. Festa chose to live in the development himself, building a home where he and his wife, Camille, raised their three children, Joey, John, and Ann. Many of the streets in West Revere are named for members of this proud family: Ann Road, Joey Road, Johnny Road, Camille Road, Assunta Road, Festa Road.
Mr. Festa’s sons would later join him at the family’s construction company. John handled the property management, financial planning, and accounting divisions of the company while Joey oversaw the construction. Ann Festa is a retired school administrator in Revere.
Mr. Festa was a true American success story, a man who worked hard to rise from meager beginnings to establish a phenomenally successful company with an impeccable reputation.
“My father would tell me, ‘John, you don’t what it’s like when you don’t have enough money to buy an ice cream,’’ said his son. “But the one thing he did have was the drive and the determination to get better. He would always say that to me, ‘you always want to get better, you always want to learn.’ “My father was so high on education and always learning and reading a lot. I truly believe that’s what made him successful. He was working days and then he would go to night school at Wentworth Institute.”
John Festa said his father, Joseph, and mother, Camille (who passed away in December, 2016) were “a team.” “My mother sacrificed a lot, too. They worked together. They were married for 67 years.”
Mr. Festa stayed active in the family’s construction company until two years ago when his health began to decline.
“What was very important to him – one of the major things was his reputation – he was so proud that when he built the 200 homes, he lived within in that area – a lot of developers don’t do that,” said John Festa. “He took a lot of pride in what he built. He didn’t rush to get it done. He was very particular about what he was building. He wanted to make sure, if you’re going to do it, just like your work ethic, you do it the best you can and you make sure you’re doing it the right way.”
Mr. Joseph Festa did it the right way throughout his long and successful career as a real estate developer. The city has lost a great and generous man from a great Revere family.
Memorial observances for Mr. Festa will be held early next week.