‘Superman’ building revitalization dead for this year

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The effort to secure millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies to revitalize Providence’s tallest building has again stalled at the Rhode Island State House.

William Fischer, a spokesman for “Superman” building owner David Sweetser, confirmed Wednesday his client does not expect legislation to help redevelop 111 Westminster Street will emerge before the General Assembly session ends later this month.

“I know we ran out of time,” Fischer said. “We don’t want this to be rushed. We want the opportunity to put forward a very specific proposal.”

The Providence Journal was first to report that legislation for the building would not be introduced this year.

Earlier this year, Sweetser joined a group of lawmakers and downtown stakeholders to call on the General Assembly to approve legislation that would help turn the dormant property into a mixed-use facility that would include office space and rental apartments. Sweetser previously sought around $39 million from the state.

The value of the 350,000-square-foot Art Deco skyscraper has taken a significant hit since Sweetser and his real estate investment firm High Rock Development bought it for $33.2 million in 2008. The building is now valued at $15.4 million, according to the Providence tax assessor’s office.

Fischer said representatives have been reaching out to civic organizations to let them know they can host meetings in the building over the next year. He also said a program is in the works to provide free tours of the space.

Fischer said the building owners “made a lot of progress” this year and expect legislation to be introduced early next year.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

 

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