‘Superman’ developer submits revised proposal for state aid

The owner of the vacant “Superman Building” at 111 Westminster St. downtown Wednesday proposed a new $39 million package of state assistance to renovate the tower. More

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‘Superman’ developer submits revised proposal for state aid

PBN FILE PHOTO
HIGH ROCK DEVELOPMENT, owner of 111 Westminster Street, the 'Superman Building,' has made another proposal to redevelop the 350,000-square-foot, 26-story tower into 280 apartments along with mixed commercial use in the lower floors.
Posted 4/9/14

PROVIDENCE – The owner of the vacant “Superman Building” at 111 Westminster St. downtown Wednesday proposed a new $39 million package of state assistance to renovate the tower.

In its second attempt to gain state financing for a rehabilitation project, High Rock Development said it would seek legislation to create a 111 Westminster Historic Redevelopment Program and Revolving Fund to finance converting the office building into a mixed-use project with 280 apartments.

The legislation would dedicate $9.75 million in state funds to the project over four years and “establish a procedure where up to $9 million of the original state support would be returned to a fund to support future projects” after a sale or refinancing, according to a news release.

As part of the proposal, High Rock promised to dedicate $500,000 over 10 years to the Kennedy Plaza Revitalization Fund and purchase a “private completion bond” to guarantee the renovation work is finished.

“Since last year’s attempt to garner state support to renovate the building we have sat with many groups to hear their concerns and ideas on how to best move forward,” said High Rock Development Principal David Sweetser. “Our new proposal incorporates the best ideas and practices we heard to ensure public support for this worthy project.”

Although including new provisions, the requested legislation is similar to High Rock’s proposal last April for $39 million in state aid.

That plan also included $21 million in federal historic tax credits and between $10 million and $15 million in a city tax stabilization, but received little support from state and city leaders.

This year, the Massachusetts-based High Rock would also be eligible to pursue up to $5 million in state historic tax credits.

Last year High Rock estimated the renovation, which would include commercial space on the first four floors, would cost $130 million.

The news release Wednesday said the state’s investment would secure $80 million in equity, debt and federal funds, but it did not specify any involvement by the city. However, combining High Rock’s request for state aid and its estimates of debt, equity and federal support, the developer’s plan identified nearly $120 million. Combined with last year’s estimate of $10 million to $15 million in city tax stabilization benefits, the plan amounts to much the same financing proposal as a year ago.

Similarly, High Rock is looking to use 35,000 square feet of the building’s 350,000-square-foot space on its lower floors for retail, incubator and workspaces.

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