UPDATE: Providence's Superman Building Owner Asks for $75 Mil in Public Financing


Superman building owner, High Rock Development LLC, is asking for up to $75 million dollars in public financing to convert the space into apartments. These numbers came about this past Tuesday by consultants for the owner. The question remains whether this covers the costs of completely converting this building into livable apartments. According to a recent article from PBN, the total cost will be $130 million, says Cornish Associates of Providence and HR&A Advisors Inc. of New York.

“It is incredibly important that we get this right and adopt a plan that ensures the highest and best use of the building,” said Bill Fischer, spokesperson for High Rock Development. “These reports confirm that converting the Superman building into rental apartments is in fact the highest and best use of the building.”

Sure, it’s better than marketing the property for more office spaces. But does it have to come from public financing, our state’s money?

High Rock Development is asking lawmakers to provide almost $40 million in taxpayer money, $21 million in federal tax credits as well as a tax break. According to an article by WPRI.com, House Speaker Gordon Fox has similar concerns and hesitations towards the large amount. Fox wants to keep a cap of $5 million per project.

“As was announced last week as part of our economic development package, the House is introducing historic tax credit legislation with a $5 million cap on credits for any single project,” Fox said. “If this tax credit program is reinstated this year, the developers could apply for those capped credits.  Beyond that, I believe the state is not in any position to provide the level of financial assistance that the developer is seeking.”

Sounds pretty sensible if you think about. Why should we pay for this? Supporters believe that this new venture will generate more permanent jobs, more downtown residents, and more income in the future. But–how many empty downtown apartments do we already have? Plenty.

Is this worth it?