The "Superman Building" is the Downtown skyline's most enduring image in Providence. The only problem is, the building is empty. Now developers want a public–private deal, to save it, with at least 280 residential units inside.
"This Downtown is the center of more than a million residents and as we know, the young people in our communities want to locate in urban centers," said Buff Chace, of Corning & Associates, one of the partners in the project.
The proposal comes at a time when Kennedy Plaza – the state's key transit hub – is targeted for redevelopment, too. Superman building owners may apply for historic tax credits, or ask for direct funding from city and state taxpayers.
ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "The success of the Superman Building proposal is likely tied to another major project – the I–195 redevelopment in Downtown Providence.
The theory is, if the so–called "Knowledge District," on the I-195 land brings in new companies and jobs, many of those workers will need housing downtown. People we spoke to at Kennedy Plaza - like the idea - but not with taxpayer funding.
"Definitely not. The developers, who want to make it, should pay for it themselves. It shouldn't be taxpayers," said one local resident.
"I think it's ludicrous. I think that after that Curt Shilling debacle, they should do their own funding," said Leo Morris, a Rhode Island taxpayer.
But backers say the Superman building would pay the city and state, if the project makes money. Developers hope to secure government funding, by this summer.