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UPDATED: Plan to Build Hasbro Headquarters in Providence—Demo Superman Building

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

 

Rendering of the proposed "Hasbro Tower"

An exclusive story first reported on Monday afternoon, unveiled what could be the biggest business story to hit Providence in decades.

GoLocal learned that a plan by two real estate mega-forces, Providence developer Joe Paolino of Paolino Properties and Bob Gilbane of Gilbane Development, is emerging that would build an approximately 36 story tower at the location of the now vacant Superman Building. 

The new structure is being pitched to Hasbro for its new consolidated headquarters. The Paolino and Gilbane plan is just one of a number of plans submitted, but the only one that includes the demolition of the Superman building. Some of the other proposed offered for Hasbro's consideration include building a campus for Hasbro on 195 lands. Other potential developers include Procaccianti Companies who "has owned, developed or managed millions of square feet of real estate." The company owns the Renaissance Hotel in Providence to name just one of its holdings. 

Reaction to the "Hasbro Tower" was immediate and varied across the business community and the public. Top government financial expert Gary Sasse joined GoLcoal's Business Monday just an hour after GoLocal broke the story and Sasse said the new tower and the demolition of Superman building is a win-win. See more on his appearance on GoLocal. 

Bob Whitcomb, former Editor of the editorial page of the Providence Journal and now GoLocal contributor said the proposal was a plus for Providence as the existing vacant building faces too many challenges to ever be restored. MORE ON REACTION COMING.

As previously reported Hasbro is in some level of talks to acquire rival toy company Mattel. Today, Hasbro is enjoying a high performing stock, the top ranking in the best corporate citizen ranking list, and growing profits. The company employs a reported 1,600 in Rhode Island and 5,400 globally.

New Tower Versus Vacant Superman

The gleaming glass tower would be the first significant commercial construction project in Providence in nearly a decade and would transform the skyline. The "Hasbro Tower" would be the tallest building.

Joe Paolino

The Superman Building, also known as 111 Westminster Street or the Industrial Trust Bank Building, was once the dominant hub of commerce in Rhode Island, but for nearly five years the building has been vacant and Rhode Island’s biggest eyesore.

A GoLocal report in September of 2014 found that the Superman Building in Providence has "no value," according to an appraisal conducted earlier this year by Providence-based appraiser Scotti and Associates.  

Moreover, the findings show that the Industrial National Bank Building at 111 Westminster Street would cost between $60 million and $100 million to rehabilitate.

As GoLocal first reported in September, Hasbro is looking to build a consolidated headquarters in downtown Providence that would combine Hasbro’s headquarters in Pawtucket, the Providence location at La Salle Square, and its facility in East Providence.

The team of Paolino and Gilbane are a formidable force. 

Gilbane, Inc., headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, is one of the largest privately held family-owned construction and real estate development firms in the industry. Gilbane was founded in 1873, and has done some of the most significant projects in America, including O'Hare International Airport, Terminal 5 in Chicago, IL.; Union Station restoration in Washington D.C; World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.; the United States Capitol Visitors Center in Washington D.C.; and ExxonMobil Campus in Houston, TX.

Paolino Properties in the dominant real estate developer in Providence.

Superman Building Vacant for nearly 5 years

About the Superman Building:

The building was designed by the firm of Walker & Gillette, “On October 1st, 1928, the building opened to the public. After its completion, 111 Westminster has withstood the ever-changing economic climates. By 1950, Theron Curtis, the bank’s Vice President, ordered the eagles removed. He stated to a reporter from the Providence Journal, “They were something the architect wanted up there. Supposed to look like a flower pot or something. You couldn’t tell from the street. A crazy idea, in my opinion.”

The building was home to one of the greatest business successes in Rhode Island history — the growth of Fleet Bank.

After Fleet had grown to the 9th largest bank in America, it was acquired by Bank of America (BofA). Over the next couple of years, BofA moved its operation out of the building and much of it out of Providence.

According to Save the Superman website, “In 1982, Industrial Trust Company changed its name to Fleet Bank. The bank retained its headquarters in 111 Westminster Street until Fleet merged with Boston’s Shawmut Bank in 1995. At that point, the headquarters relocated to Boston and the company was renamed to Fleet Boston. In 1998, Fleet Boston was acquired by Bank of America.”

At 111 Westminster, Bank of America would remain its sole tenant until April 2013, when the bank relocated its branch to a smaller office nearby.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was first reported at 12/11/17 2:54 PM and was update on 12/12/17 AM at 4:23 AM

 

Tour of the Superman Building - August, 2016

 

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