‘Superman’ owner sues Bank of America over building’s decay

The owner of Providence’s “Superman Building” is suing former tenant Bank of America Corp. for leaving Rhode Island’s tallest building in poor condition. More

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‘Superman’ owner sues Bank of America over building’s decay

PBN FILE PHOTO
HIGH ROCK WESTMINSTER STREET LLC, owner of the iconic 'Superman Building' in Providence, filed a lawsuit against former tenant Bank of America in July claiming that the bank violated the terms of the lease when it left the tower in poor condition after vacating the property.
Posted 11/11/13

PROVIDENCE – The owner of Providence’s “Superman Building” is suing former tenant Bank of America Corp. for leaving Rhode Island’s tallest building in poor condition.

In a suit filed in U.S. District Court in July, Newton, Mass.-based High Rock Westminster Street LLC asked for more than $23.6 million in damages from Bank of America plus ongoing reimbursements for lost rent.

The lawsuit alleges that Bank of America left the 26-story art-deco building, also known as the Industrial Trust Tower, with “crumbling facades, corroded window frames and obsolete building systems,” according to a copy of the complaint.

In 2003, Fleet Bank sold the tower at 111 Westminster St. to Westminster Office 1031 LLC with a 10-year leaseback agreement that expired this spring. Bank of America bought Fleet the following year and assumed the lease.

Under the terms of the lease, the tenant was responsible for maintenance of the building, according to the suit.

High Rock purchased the building from Westminster Office in January 2008.

The suit, first reported by the Associated Press, lists at least $21.3 million in deferred maintenance to the vacant building, including repairs to the façade, heating system, electrical system and sprinklers.

Earlier this year, High Rock proposed converting the tower to apartments, but needed at least $70 million in state, federal and city assistance that has not materialized.

The first hearing in the case is scheduled for Thursday morning before Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond.

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