Could the Superman Building Be Imploded to Make Way for Hasbro HQ?

Thursday, December 14, 2017


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The Superman Building has been vacant for nearly five years.

It has been an embarrassment to Rhode Island and a political and economic development football. Dozens of companies have been paraded through the building — including PayPal, Citizens Bank, and Hasbro.

However, none of the companies could see how their company could function in a building that was built in 1929.

Now, one plan is to demolish the building — maybe by implosion —and replace it with a gleaming new corporate headquarters for Hasbro.




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Failed Hartford Park, 1989

Hartford Park Failure

Implosions can be complicated and Providence had one epic episode of implosion failure. In 1989, the City of Providence’s Housing Authority tried to implode the Hartford Park tower, but their effort failed miserably.

“More than 550 pounds of dynamite failed to bring the 36-year-old building down Sunday, although a second round of explosives knocked out the first two floors, leaving the main part of the building and a wing leaning against each other. The neighborhood organization, Project BASIC, had tried unsuccessfully in federal court to stop the demolition of the 10-story Hartford Park building, contending that it was structurally sound,” wrote the Los Angeles Times.

In 2012, WJAR did a 25-year Flashback at the failed effort in May of 1989.



It is unclear if the Superman building can be imploded or whether or not it must be dismantled piece by piece.

Superman Has No Value

An appraisal completed in 2014 and first reported by GoLocal showed that the renovation cost estimates for complete building rehab and re-use have ranged from $60,000,000-$100,000,000.

"Our estimates reflect a very conservative approach and contemplate the end product to be competitive in the Class B market,” wrote a 2014 appraisal of the property completed by Scotti and Associates.

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Rendering of Proposal by Paolino and Gilbane


On Monday, GoLocal unveiled that the combination of Paolino Properties and Gilbane Development had submitted a proposal to Hasbro to build a 35-story tower on the site of the Superman Building for Hasbro’s future consolidated corporate headquarters. While preservationists argue for the historic value of the building — it was designed by the New York firm of Walker & Gillette. Architecture writer Will Morgan criticizes the proposal:

“As is all too typical in contemporary Providence, this idea is only about Property Development–only about dollars, square footage, trashing history for a quick profit. Where is the discussion of architecture, of inspired city planning, of encouraging innovative design, of enriching the city’s spirit?" 


Reality is Sinking In

While some like Morgan may argue for the desire to retain the historic structure, the building is surrounded by scaffolding and each year further deteriorates. The building has been toured by dozens of potential tenants and presented to upwards of 100 companies.

Politics are soon going to besiege the building. In 2014, Governor Gina Raimondo pledged to finally see action on the Superman Building -- and shot a commercial which included her family. The continued embarrassment of the dilapidated building is an eyesore and is likely to be a political issue for Raimondo in her effort to run for re-election in 2018. 



Related Slideshow: Implosions from Around the World

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