Governor McKee, State and Local Leaders Announce Historic Rehabilitation of Providence’s Industrial Trust Building

Published on Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Iconic piece of Providence’s skyline would become home to hundreds of residential units with a mix of ground-floor uses including event space and community/non-profit facility

The $220 million project, which brings together a partnership between the State, City of Providence, the nonprofit community and development team, would support almost 1,600 direct construction jobs

PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee, joined by state, local, and federal leaders, the Rhode Island Foundation, and the High Rock Development team came together to announce a historic rehabilitation of Providence’s Industrial Trust Building, commonly referred to as the “Superman Building.” The $220 million project announced today 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.

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. “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. “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.”

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.

“To many Rhode Islanders, the ‘Superman Building’ stood as a symbol of opportunity and hope,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos. “Which is why it’s so appropriate that we are making this announcement now as our local economy recovers, as we double down on our commitment to address our housing crisis, and as our state continues to build momentum. Our beloved ‘Superman Building’ will shine bright once again in our capital’s skyline and remind us all of what’s possible when stakeholders work collaboratively and creatively to address longstanding issues.”

“We are proud of the partnership that has come together to bring this iconic building back to life,” said Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. “This project will bring hundreds of residents downtown, create hundreds of construction jobs, and restore a key feature of our skyline. We thank the multiple public and private sector partners who have made this day possible.”

“I am extremely pleased that a deal has been finalized to ensure this downtown Providence landmark will be re-opened to a mix of housing and commercial space,” said House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi. “Since becoming Speaker last year, my top priority has been on increasing housing opportunities for Rhode Islanders, and the addition of nearly 300 residential units is exciting news. I am also happy this deal was reached without a commitment of any additional state funding beyond the existing programs.”

Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio said, “The Superman Building is an iconic, historical structure that has sat empty for far too long. Today’s announcement is great news for the city and for our state. The mixed-use development, which includes a residential component with both market-rate and affordable housing, will help reinvigorate Downtown Providence, attracting businesses and investment into our Capital City.”

“Today’s announcement is an excellent example of a public-private partnership that will truly benefit the people of Providence,” said Providence City Council President John Igliozzi. “Renovating the Superman Building immediately puts affordable housing online, something the city desperately needs. This iconic landmark has been dormant for nearly a decade. Seeing the building come back to life, become fully functional, and revitalize the heart of the city once again will be something to witness. Although this investment is significant for the city, it represents one that will benefit not only Providence residents, but the state and all who come to visit.”

“The availability of housing is top of mind for many Rhode Islanders. I am encouraged by this investment to reactivate a long-vacant space for housing, and bring added vibrancy to downtown Providence while significantly expanding the supply of housing,” said Deputy Secretary for Housing Josh Saal. “I look forward to working with our partners at RI Housing, the City of Providence, and other stakeholders at the state and municipal level to see this project come to fruition.”

“Almost 30 years ago, RIHousing made the decision to invest in Providence’s downtown through the renovation of historic downtown buildings for our offices,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “It’s exciting to see the renovation and reuse of this important historic landmark taking shape, while also adding housing options to our state’s Capital city. We look forward to welcoming our neighbors when completed.”

“I vividly remember when the Industrial Trust Building was a beacon for activity in a bustling downtown and look forward to seeing this successfully come to pass,” said Neil D. Steinberg, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. “We’re pleased to play a role supporting this historic building rehabilitation, which will be a central component in the revitalization of downtown Providence, our home for many years – and has the potential to create more affordable homes for Rhode Islanders.”

“I was thrilled to receive news of this generous gift this morning. This future contribution spread out over a decade will support Crossroads' mission to continue to deliver effective services to Rhode Islanders experiencing homelessness and will bolster our efforts to end homelessness,” said Karen Santilli, CEO of Crossroads Rhode Island. “We have been advocating for years for more housing at all levels and we applaud the McKee Administration, RI Commerce and High Rock Development for making a firm commitment to affordable housing in both the development and through High Rock's contribution.”

“The Providence Redevelopment Agency is proud to play an important role in the next chapter of the former Industrial Trust Building, reanimating the space with mixed-income housing and ensuring it will be a vital part of Providence's future,” said Bonnie Nickerson, Executive Director of the Providence Redevelopment Agency. “The creative reimagining of 111 Westminster meets the housing demand in our growing Downtown, stimulates local business and creates jobs, all while preserving a cherished city landmark.”

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.