The Providence Journal: Future uncertain for empty icon
Bank of America confirmed Tuesday that it has moved the last of its employees out of the Art Deco skyscraper, which earned its nickname from its resemblance to The Daily Planet in the 1950s “Superman” TV series. The bank’s departure leaves a Jazz Age monument to Rhode Island’s industrial might, when it opened in 1928, as a virtual 26-story tombstone marking the state’s economic decline.
Tearing down the building for something more practical “is not an option,” said Fischer. Other alternatives “would not be good for the city,” he added, such as leaving it vacant or renovating it for offices, which would create a glut of office space and depress commercial rental rates.
Fischer called rental apartments “the highest and best use of the property,” bringing 500 more people to live downtown while creating at least a year and a half of construction work that would benefit the economy.
The building has 350,000 square feet, and High Rock hopes to build around 290 apartments of various sizes, Fischer said. The first floor, which now includes a grand lobby with high ceilings and marble columns, could be used as a restaurant or other commercial space, but the rest would be residential, he said. Among the issues High Rock is looking at is how to address parking since the building does not have it, Fischer said.