Senate Republicans Oppose Rehab of Superman Building Using Taxpayer Funds

Friday, May 06, 2016


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Senator Pagliarini

The Senate Republican caucus announced that they are opposed to taxpayer-funded rehabilitation of the Superman building in downtown Providence.

 “At this time, the taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay for a project they know nothing about. We recognize the importance of this building to Providence and the overall image of Rhode Island and support efforts to get this building back on line.  But we need to do a proper and thorough vetting of any public money that is used here,” said Senator Nicholas D. Kettle. 

The caucus also expressed their concern about the type and the amount of money that would be required for the project. 

The Republican Senator's opponents comes just 24-hours after the developer held a press conference asking for state support.

As GoLocal reported on Thursday:

Boston developer David Sweetser is back. Once again, he is asking for tens of millions in state and federal subsidies to rehab the vacant Superman building.

At a press conference today, the number of speakers on the agenda was longer than previous press events, but the message was the same -- this project needs tens of millions of public money to be viable. Neither Sweetser nor any of the other speakers identified the exact amount of the ask or what the building will used for, but the call for action was unified.

“The owner should have done their due diligence and known the costs that would be associated with rehabilitating this building when they purchased the iconic building. We look forward to seeing the building revitalized, but the taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook to get the lights turned back on,” the caucus said. 

A major issue that the caucus brings up is the lack of a major company coming in and no guarantee of jobs or tenants for the building. 

“If it were a stable company that wanted to come in, like GE, and renovate the building themselves, we would be more open to considering using taxpayer money. But without the promise of jobs and a specific tenant for the building, we need to be very careful about just blindly handing out Rhode Islanders’ money to a developer,” said Senator Elaine J. Morgan. 

Senator Pagliarini concluded "The taxpayers should not be forced into a partnership to develop an apartment building. Taxpayers bear risk, millions in cost and no upside. Stephan Pryor testified before the Senate Finance Committee that the project is eligible for many grant programs, including $15,000,000 from the Governor’s proposed Budget that was submitted months ago.”


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