Greater City Providence

So, the Mayor said this…

On Channel 10 News Conference as reported by RINPR regarding the Superman Building…

The use that I really don’t want to see happen, but we have to put everything on the table is, is it more efficient to take it down and put something else up? I think that would be a tragedy in the sense it’s part of our history.


Greater City Providence

Promoting the smart urban growth of the Greater Providence region.


  • Dear Sweet Jesus, please let him not have more surface parking lots in mind…

  • Why would he make this statement? Serves no purpose and shows a lack of understanding about similar demolitions which have yielded no development progress. This option should be decidedly off the table.

  • I think there could be ideas to replace this building. It would be ignorant and childish to say otherwise. A green, sustainable, modern building.. maybe with an architectural nod to the superman building doesn’t sound so bad to me. Chances of this happening aren’t great, but to just dismiss the idea completely is wrong.

  • That would be the straw on the camels back for me if that building were to come down. Time to start looking to relocate. Too much and too little in this town. Fingers crossed.

  • Taking a building down is not necessarily sustainable. There is so much embodied energy already in that building, replacing it would easily be the least sustainable thing to consider. I liked the idea of residences there and I would happily sign up! When I heard that idea floated, I thought of the Foshay building in Minneapolis which is now a luxury hotel:

  • The building is historically significant. Recent examples like RISD’s 15 West show that a successful rennovation of a similar building is possible. Plus, the number of demolitions that lead to nothing being built in Downcity is substantial.

    Old Public Safety Building
    Grants Block
    Old Downcity Diner Building
    110 Westiminster Site next to the arcade.
    Sierra Suites Site

    It’s realistic to think that given the recent history that the chances of a teardown leading to a newly constructed building are slim. Hence, why I feel demolition should be off the table.

  • To give Mayor Taveras the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume that he’s posturing to pressure the General Assembly to approve the tax credits. But, “putting everything on the table . . . to take it down and put something else up,” would not be demonstrating the best leadership. That’s a lot of real estate taxes to put on the table.

    Besides the land costs and adding the demolition costs, who in the world would build something “else” on that site, especially, when there’s an empty lot diagonally across the street, the 110 Westminster site? If someone was interested in constructing a new building in Providence, I’m sure that the family of Jeremiah O’Connor III, the deceased previous developer, would be thrilled to sell the “110” lot.

    If High Rock Westminster Street LLC can’t afford to redevelop the building and doesn’t like paying real estate taxes on the building—then just sell it. There are plenty of Qatari and Chinese investors looking for US real estate opportunities.

    Supposedly, Providence is to get an EB5 Visa designation and office fairly soon. That would be one way to attract foreign investment. If the residential conversion model isn’t working so well for High Rock, they should consider a hotel or mixed hotel-residential project, since the return on investment for a hotel is higher than residential.

  • Oh dear lord. He just doesn’t get it. Of course, this goes hand in hand with Jim Bennet’s introduction to his staff last year where he said the first thing he was going to take care of was taking the Fogarty Building down, because that’s what the owner needed and that was economic development.

  • seriously people.. read it again, and slowly…
    he is saying that it will be wrong to take it down. that destroying such an historically important building will be a tragedy.

  • @maya

    “but we have to put everything on the table is, is it more efficient to take it down and put something else up?”

    The suggestion is there. Just because something is deemed historic doesn’t mean it can withstand the wrecking ball. We’ve seen this before in Providence. Its truly unfortunate. Not a very good representation for the “Creative Capital” where it seems we either think waaaaaaay outside the box or keep the lid closed tightly.

    We can do better.

  • I’m guessing the mayor said that because he’s trying to force some hands to get the state to help save the building, likely through tax credits or incentives to renovate it. Anyone who says that tearing down the single most iconic building in our city wouldn’t be a big deal is kidding themselves. It’s part of our identity.

  • To maya’s point the Mayor wasn’t endorsing a demolition exactly. Other than posturing, another reason he might have said it, is that someone said it to him. Could the idea be floating around and under consideration by someone? Detroit and Buffalo are saving and renovating some of their old high-rise buildings that had been empty for decades. Providence is no Detroit or Buffalo. If the Mayor believes that demolition shouldn’t be a possibility, it might be more prudent not to mention it.

  • It is an unfortunate statement, and could merely be political posturing. I hope it is, but it saddens me to reverse any assumptions I had about people that come to power in PVD – that they came to power, and perhaps one of the reasons they came to power, was because they understand the value that PVD has in its historic architecture. While it may be financially prudent (to some) to have all ideas on the table, it certainly does the City no good to have more demolition as a solution to any problem.

  • When I watched the video Taveras seemed to get teary eyed at the notion of tearing down this building.

    However the fact that demolishing the Industrial Trust Co. Tower is even on the table gets me really really really angry.

    Demolishing this building would be totally unsustainable, not to mention the fact that nothing will be built after its suposed demolition, there are still plenty of holes all over Providence, that have not been filled in, like say the one across the street at 110 Westminster. The Empire State Building, and the Williamsburg Savings Bank in Brooklyn, have both gone under extensive renovations to get them to become more efficient buildings. The empire state has new windows, and leds, etc, and the tower and Brooklyn became apartments. All three towers were built in the same era. I like Peter’s idea of getting foreign investors to buy the building if the current owner can’t get these tax breaks. To me Providence seems to be way too demolition trigger happy. If we demolish this building, then hey how long is it before Providence becomes like downtown Pawtucket.

    Or hey why don’t we fill the river back up with pavement, or maybe even tear down the statehouse? Or maybe we should have just replaced all of Benefit Street with modernist rectangles. The idea of demolition is ludicrous. It would be one thing if this building wasn’t the tallest and most iconic in the state, if it were say located in New York, but its not just a building here its a symbol of Rhode Island, and a beautiful one at that. There used to be art deco eagles too on this building, much like the Chrysler in New York, those should be replaced. The building should be renovated.

    Guess someone should tell Seth MacFarlane to change the Family Guy skyline…

  • The posturing for money thing could be true, but then again, we need to understand our role within that posturing, if that’s the case. There’s the whole A. Philip Randolph story about him telling FDR all the things the sleeper-car porters needed, and FDR sighing, and basically saying, “Eh, I agree with you, but go out and organize and make me do it”. If we want to give Taveras the benefit of the doubt, which perhaps he deserves, that still doesn’t absolve us of our duty to make his political life difficult until he retracts the statement.

  • I really think he was just trying to open people’s eyes that if nothing is done, bad things could happen. I’m not normally one to have faith in elected officials, but I do in this case.

  • Mark Binder who ran against Representative Gordon Fox in the most recent state election released a statement today criticizing the potential legislation in which $40 million in state tax credits to redevelop the Superman Building would be approved. You can read about Binder’s accusations of Rep. Fox not doing what is best for the taxpayers for yourself. However, I found this quote interesting:

    Yes, having the building empty downtown would be lame. But blame the current tax code, which makes it advantageous to leave property empty, rather than lease it at a lower rent.” said Binder.

    I am not a tax code expert, but something is certainly amiss when properties sit vacant all over the city for years without any progress (North Main Street being an example). Zoning is also a factor, but I am curious what those knowledgeable about our local property tax policy have to say.

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