Superman building

"Superman" Building At The Center Of Lawsuit

Nov 12, 2013

A court case beginning this week could impact the future of Rhode Island’s tallest building, known as the Superman Building.

The building’s new owner claims it was left in deplorable condition by longtime occupant Bank of America.

Massachusetts developer High Rock, which owns the so-called Superman Building in Downtown Providence, is suing Bank of America for more than 23 million.

High Rock claims that the former tenant left the 26 story building so neglected that it is un-rentable without costly repairs.

Starting this week, only the beacon atop the so called Superman building will be lit. Most of the other exterior lights will be dark, said Bill Fischer, spokesman for the building’s owner.

Bank of America was the only tenant and it left the building earlier this year. Fischer said keeping the beacon lit is sign that work is being done to bring the building back to life.

“You know, to maintain outside lighting on an empty building of approximately anywhere between $26,000 to $30,000 a year, is not a prudent expenditure of money,” said Fischer.

The owner of the vacant Industrial Trust Building -- aka the Superman Building -- submitted a bid in response to a state RFP for 70,000 to 80,000 square feet of office space.

Bill Fischer, a spokesman for High Rock Development, says the bid was submitted in time for a June 3 deadline. "We wanted to keep any and all options open," Fischer says. "We did respond," even though High Rock continues to believe that a residential conversion offers the best future for the historic structure.

Jef Nickerson / FLICKR

The Dynamo House, the century-old onetime Narragansett Electric power station, now sits as a forlorn reminder of what once thrived along Providence’s downtown waterfront.  And as Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay notes, it now stands as a guard to the old Jewelry District that state and city officials are trying to rebrand as a Knowledge District.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for a weekly business segment we're calling "The Bottom Line." Each Friday it looks at business news and themes that affect local business and the public.

This week Dave and Mark talk with Grow Smart Rhode Island executive director Scott Wolf. They discuss proposals for the Superman Building, the costs of such development,  urban residential living and trends in downtown office buildings.

When to Listen

You can hear The Bottom Line each Friday at 5:50pm.