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Inside Bulloch Business with DeWayne Grice - Puglianos help bring student apartments to Boro
Grice-H-DeWayne Web
DeWayne Grice

             On Friday the 13th, local real estate matriarch Lorriane Pugliano will celebrate her 80th birthday. This will be her seventh Friday the 13th birthday, in fact.
        Pugliano grew up in Jesup and left the small town after graduating from high school to live with relatives in Pittsburgh. While living in Pittsburgh she purchased a car from Dominic Pugliano, a man who not only won her over as a customer, but also won her heart.
        "Bug, as his friends called him, always kidded me that if he knew we were going to get married he would have given me a much better deal on my car," Lorriane joked.
        After they were married, they moved back to Jesup where he began in the construction business. In 1967, then Statesboro Mayor Bill Bowen convinced Dominic Pugliano to move to Statesboro and build houses for him. Mayor Bowen was quite an entrepreneur. In addition to his construction business, he owned a real estate company and W.A. Bowen Furniture in downtown Statesboro.
        The first year Dominic worked for Bowen, he built 56 houses in 11 cities. When Bowen died in 1974, the Pugilano's began their own construction business. In addition, Lorriane and her daughter Lori, who had just graduated from high school, became licensed realtors. The next few year's interest rates skyrocketed making borrowing money very difficult.
        "I had just signed a note for a construction loan for 19 percent and decided that we simply could not survive simply building houses," she said. "I was listening to Paul Harvey on the radio when he told a story about a man who had an idea to build 102 units and he sold them out in 30 days. The units were very small 24x32 not much more than a carport. Then he went to a commercial bank.
        "Before he could come back with the rest of the story, he had given me the idea to build apartment complexes for college students. He explained the rest of the story, which was a 102-unit garage complex in downtown Dallas, Texas. Parking was a real challenge back then in larger cities and this was a unique solution."
        In the early 80s, Georgia Southern College had grown to about 5,000 students with no off-campus housing. Pugliano recalled the challenges as a real estate agent trying to get citizens to rent apartments or houses to college students. No one really wanted college students in their neighborhood.
        "It was a very difficult time for families of college students moving to Statesboro," she said. "There were no rental houses on the market for students."
        That was about to change. The Pugilano's started acquiring land adjacent to the then GSC campus and began their first apartment complex, Southern Villas, which included 68 units. They began construction in January1984, started selling the units in March, sold out in June and moved them all in during August.
        "More than half of them sold to families from Claxton," Pugliano said. "The units sold out so quickly that there was actual bidding wars for the units. One unit sold in 30 days for twice what the original owner paid. We knew that we had a successful model."
        They kept repeating this model with great success. Next was Eagles Nest, College View, Plantation Villas and then Park Place. In 1991, half way through the construction of Plantation Villas, their most ambitious project to date that included over 300 units, Dominic died suddenly.
        When completed, they had constructed and sold nearly 700 apartments targeting the student market. In seven years the Pugliano family had forever changed the real estate market for college housing in Statesboro.
        Lorriane's daughter Lisa, son Tony and granddaughter Amber oversee the business now, which includes property management and new construction. The Hammocks on Fair Road is one of the family's most recent projects.
        "Our life was so positively impacted thanks to Mayor Bowen," Lorraine said. "He was the most brilliant and honest man I ever knew. He and his wife Honey had such an impact on this community and my family. They matched like bookends. He was mayor for 25 years and not one street or project has his name on it. He named something after every person he knew, but never for himself. He was a jewel of a guy."
        Hard work, innovation and creativity continue to be this family's formula for success. As they celebrate another "lucky" Friday the 13th with Lorriane's 80th birthday, we can all pause and reflect on the impact this family has had on positioning our community and now university for growth.
        Please email DeWayne at or give him a call at (912) 489-9499.

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