BUILDING BLOCKS: Providence Mayor Angel Taveras says that underused buildings have the ability to generate economic activity if used to their full potential. Chief among those are the Superman Building and the South Street Power Station.
With his city’s fiscal position stabilized, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras has turned toward growing the local economy and redeveloping underutilized properties. That’s brought him up against some of the most difficult and expensive challenges in Rhode Island. They include saving its tallest building, the Industrial Trust Tower, and its most spectacular historic-redevelopment failure, the South Street Power Station (Dynamo House). They also include bringing long-sought streetcar service to the capital city and replacing abundant surface parking lots with productive, activity-generating buildings.
He is preparing to release a fiscal 2014 budget featuring a commercial-property-tax-rate freeze.
PBN: What are you asking the state to do, specifically, to help revive the Superman Building?
TAVERAS: At this time: nothing. I have been waiting for an economic-impact study that should be available within days. Once I have a chance to look at that, I will be in a better position to say whether we will have a specific ask or not. My focus is to make sure we have productive activity going on within that building. That could be office space. That could be apartments. And depending on what makes the most sense, we have to look at what the costs are and that will play a big role in deciding what the most sensible thing is to do there.
PBN: Your legislative agenda included new historic tax credits for the Superman Building revitalization, and some reports attached a price tag greater than $40 million.
TAVERAS: This is all based on an agenda for a meeting I had with the legislative delegation. One of the items on the agenda was the Superman Building and talking about historic tax credits. The same item points out that we were waiting for an economic-impact study and people have run with that to suggest we are making a specific request. … There is no legislation.
PBN: You haven’t made a specific request, but you do support the concept of using state historic tax credits to finance redevelopment of the Superman Building, right?