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Feb. 10, 2013

Developers Weigh Options for “Superman Building” Makeover

by Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

High Rock Westminster L.L.C., the owner of the 26-story Industrial Trust Tower in downtown Providence, has hired Cornish Associates to study options for re-use and redevelop the property. The Providence Business News reports that Cornish has commissioned a study to determine whether converting the city’s tallest building to residential use is physically and financially feasible.

Cornish president and CEO Arnold Chace told the Business News that he leans toward repurposing Industrial Trust Tower as a primarily residential property with 200 to 300 units. Cornish’s feasibility study is expected next month, and a final development plan could be in place this spring or summer.

David Sweetser, founder of High Rock Development L.L.C, told the newspaper that he would consider a variety of possible uses for the landmark at 111 Westminster St. “There has been a need for housing in Providence for some time, and I think this would go a long way toward satisfying that,” Sweetser explained. “Clearly there seems to be a pulse there, but I don’t know yet how viable it is. There could be other uses and a market for offices, retail and student housing.”

Completed in 1928, the Industrial Trust Tower is also known as “The Superman Building” for its resemblance to the fictional headquarters of the “Daily Planet” newspaper in the 1950s television series. High Rock Westminster L.L.C., an entity controlled by Sweetser, paid $33 million for the property five years ago. The building’s only tenant, Bank of America, will move out completely by March.