Industrial Trust Building aka Superman Building aka Bank of America Building. 111 Westminster Street. 2017. Photo by Kenneth C. Zirkel. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Governor Dan McKee, joined by state, local, and federal leaders, the Rhode Island Foundation, and the High Rock Development team today announced rehabilitation plans for Providence’s Industrial Trust Building, commonly referred to as the “Superman Building.”

The $220 million project will convert the long-vacant, yet iconic, tower into 285 residential apartments, 20 percent of which will be affordable to low- and moderate-income Rhode Islanders, 8,000 square feet of commercial office space, and a mix of retail, event, and community uses in the 26,000-square foot banking hall.

Governor McKee said that today’s historic announcement is possible because of collaboration between the State of Rhode Island guided by the Executive Office of Commerce, the City of Providence, Rhode Island Housing, the Rhode Island Foundation, and the project’s development team led by the building’s owner, David Sweetser, and Zachary Darrow of Darrow Everett, LLP. Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor led the negotiations on behalf of the McKee Administration.

“As Rhode Island continues to lead the region in our economic recovery, this project will help to maintain that momentum by reinvigorating downtown Providence, creating good-paying construction jobs, increasing our state’s market-rate and affordable housing supply, and generating further opportunities for the residents and businesses of our capital city,” said Governor Dan McKee in a statement. “My thanks to everyone involved in the negotiations for coming together to bring the ‘Superman Building’ back to life.”

“We have finally met a moment both economically and politically where everyone has come together to find a solution to repurpose this historic building in a manner where it will again contribute to Rhode Island’s economy and provide much needed housing for Rhode Islanders,” said David Sweetser, principal, High Rock Development in a statement. “All told, the redeveloped ‘Superman Building’ will create 285 residential units – 20 percent of which will be dedicated to affordable housing. The building will also create hundreds of construction jobs and be a community gathering point for the residents of Providence and the great State of Rhode Island.”

“Redevelopment of the ‘Superman Building’ is crucial to activating Greater Kennedy Plaza as the civic heart of our city and symbolically, as Rhode Island’s skyscraper,” said Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “As we continue to see more and more activity return to Downtown, it is exciting to announce the redevelopment of this iconic building in the heart of our city. I am proud to support the revitalization of this property and especially that this opportunity will create more low- and moderate-income housing here in Providence.”

According to Governor McKee’s office expected sources of financing include:

  • High Rock Capital has committed to providing over $42 million towards the project which includes up to $32 million in cash equity, as well as the land and building.
  • $26 million in contributions from the State’s existing housing and economic development programs (this is 45 percent less than the developer’s recent financial request to the State)
  • $22 million in federal Historic Tax Credits
  • $10 million in a loan through the City of Providence Housing Trust through the Providence Redevelopment Agency
  • $5 million in a direct contribution from the City of Providence
  • $2 million in federal New Markets Tax Credit proceeds
  • The Developer intends to seek a Tax Stabilization Agreement from the City of Providence.
  • The Rhode Island Foundation is providing bridge financing for the Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credits which reduces the project’s financing costs.

The rehabilitation and conversion of the Industrial Trust Building will lead to almost 1,600 direct construction jobs throughout the project. It is anticipated the project will involve a project labor agreement, ensuring a prevailing wage for construction workers. The developer has committed to recruiting local minority- and women-owned construction firms (MBE/WBE) and ensuring that its general contractor utilizes best efforts to achieve 20 percent MBE/WBE participation in the project. Additionally, as an early signal of partnership with the community, High Rock Capital shared that they have also committed to making a charitable contribution to Crossroads Rhode Island, totaling $500,000 and payable over a 10-year period in the years following completion of the project.

State leaders expect that the revitalization of this iconic building is expected to bring added vibrancy to downtown Providence, with hundreds more Rhode Islanders living in the downtown district.

Various state and city funding contributions will need approval from entities including the Commerce Corporation, Rhode Island Housing, the Providence Redevelopment Agency, and the Providence City Council. We expect those processes to begin in the coming weeks.

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