Anytime anyone of my friends come to Providence for the first time, they always point out the Superman Building. It's sad to say the building is just a landmark in the skyline. No fancy HQ, no lavish restaurants, no shopping mall, nothing.
The Industrial National Bank Building has stood in the city since the 1920's. It's the tallest building in the state, and is and important piece of Art Deco architecture history.
It has ties to pop culture too. The building has the visual similarities to the headquarters of the Daily Planet Newspaper in Superman, hence the name. It is also in display on the skyline of Quahog, Rhode Island, in Family Guy.
Photo: Family Guy Wiki
But since 2013, the building has been left abandoned, after Bank of America departed. There's been murmurs of rehabilitation or new tenants, even knocking it down, but there wasn't much traction. That's probably because it was estimated that it would take $115 million to fix the building.
I always dreamed of revitalizing the building to shine light on the tourism in Rhode Island and creating a mini Prudential Center in Providence. It's main entrance would emulate The Biltmore, and a local "Eatily Style" marketplace would fill the ground floor. From above, maybe hotels or condos, and then a Taste of Providence skyline rooftop bar and restaurant.
Unfortunately I was too late, and a few hundred million short, but this week we found out the new fate of the building.
Governor Dan McKee and Rhode Island leaders unveiled a plan to redevelop the long-vacant “Superman” building. In the complex financing plan, the state proposes transforming the 26-story Art Deco office tower into a mixed-use building with 285 apartments as well as office, retail and event space. The cost is going to be over $220 million and will be done within the next three years.
Here's how the finances shake out and who's paying what.
State of Rhode Island : $26.2M
City of Providence: $15M
Federal Tax Credits: $24.1
Building Owner - High Rock Development: $205M (Cash, Debt, Equity)
With any project that involves state funds, both sides of the spectrum are going to argue, but I think this is a big time win for the Ocean State. This project is going to bring some affordable housing to the area for young professionals as well as revitalize Kennedy Plaza and downtown. The building will have some life, it'll create a new economic surge in the city, as well as bring jobs to the area. All three big wins.