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New aid plan proposed for R.I.’s tallest building


PROVIDENCE (AP) — The owner of Rhode Island’s tallest building plans to ask the legislature for $39 million in state aid over a period of four years to help pay to redevelop the vacant former bank building into apartments.

Newton, Mass.-based High Rock Development announced details of the proposal for the 26-story skyscraper at 111 Westminster, also known as the Superman building. It’s the second try for public financing for the estimated $115 million renovation project. A similar effort failed last year.

While the proposal involves the same amount of state aid this year, some of the details laid out by High Rock on Tuesday are different this time around. The plan requests that the legislation establish a redevelopment and revolving fund for the project and that the state contribute $9.75 million per year for four years, starting in 2015. Over a period of 10 years, the owner would pay $500,000 into a fund to improve downtown’s Kennedy Plaza, which sits at the doorstep of the tower.

High Rock also would put into place steps to ensure the project is completed before any state money is spent. The company said it would not receive any of the money until the building receives a certificate of occupancy, and it would take out a completion bond to guarantee the project is completed.

The company also said in a news release that it would repay “up to” $9 million of the state aid to a fund that would support future projects. It was not immediately clear how that amount would be determined.

Company spokeswoman Dyana Koelsch said Sen. Joshua Miller and Rep. John Carnevale have agreed to introduce the legislation, which is still being drafted.

The 86-year-old building has been empty for a year, since Bank of America moved out, and High Rock says the building needs extensive renovations. Its request for state money comes against the backdrop of the state’s failed $75 million loan guarantee to former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios.



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