Industrial Trust (Superman) Building

11/20/2022 Update:

Last week the City Council voted 11-2 for final passage of the 30-year tax stabilization agreement (TSA) with the owner of the Industrial Trust Building. The $223 million project will turn the nine-years-vacant Art Deco skyscraper into 285 residential apartments — 20% of which will be deed-restricted affordable.

10/25/2022 Update:

On October 17, the City Council’s Finance Committee voted unanimously in favor of an ordinance to provide a 30 year tax stabilization agreement. The matter now goes to the full Council, where it must receive a majority of votes in two subsequent meetings. Once passed by Council and signed by the mayor, this final piece of public financing will become law. We will continue to advocate for this landmark in our skyline as long as the building remains vacant, so stay tuned for more updates. Read our statement to the Finance Committee here and an info sheet that Councilwoman Anthony provided in her recent newsletter.

8/02/22 Update:

The Industrial Trust Building has been highlighted as “Saved” in a recent issue of the National Trust’s Preservation magazine. Click here to read more!

6/08/22 Update:

Last night, the RI Senate Finance Committee approved the enabling legislation for the Superman Building, allowing the City Council to negotiate a 30-year tax stabilization agreement. We expect votes in the General Assembly, City Council, and RI Housing next Thursday. Selective interior demolition will begin within 30 days. It’s happening!

5/17/22 Update:

The adaptive reuse plan for the Superman Building has two approvals under its belt from the last week. See more here:

4/12/22 Update:

At a press conference on April 12, Governor McKee announced plans for the historic preservation and rehabilitation of the Industrial Trust Building (1928), aka the Superman Building. Vacant for nine years in 2022, it is only fitting that on its vacancy anniversary the iconic Art Deco building have life breathed into it once again.

The skyscraper will be converted into 285 housing units (20% of which will be affordable or below market-rate), commercial office space, and mixed use space in the historic banking hall. The $220 million project is a hybrid of financing from developer High Rock, alongside city, state, and federal funding, and others. In recent years, other cities have taken similar approaches to preserving their historic 20th-centurty skyscrapers, and we know Superman too will be a nationally celebrated achievement. Read more about the project here.

At 428-feet-tall, Superman is Rhode Island’s tallest building, it embodies massive potential energy. Through this redevelopment Superman “will again contribute to Rhode Island’s economy and provide much needed housing for Rhode Islanders,” said David Sweetser of High Rock Development. Read more from developers and elected officials who spoke here.

PPS has advocated for the preservation and adaptive reuse of the Superman Building for nearly a decade, regularly featuring it at the top of our list of Most Endangered Properties. We strongly support the reuse of the building and the inclusion of affordable housing in the heart of Providence. #SavingSuperman

8/25/21 Update:

Did you see Dan McGowan’s recent column in the Boston Globe about the Industrial Trust Building? We think his heading and subheading are spot on and are glad to see someone bundle several outstanding downtown issues together. But we disagree with Dan’s premise that the Superman Building isn’t special. You don’t have to be sentimental about the state’s tallest building and lone Art Deco skyscraper to recognize that it is the icon of the Providence skyline and that there is an environmental imperative to adaptively reuse it.

Also make sure you didn’t miss Ian Donnis’ recent column and political roundtable on the Public’s Radio with more Superman talk!

Additional recent articles:

Should Providence buy the ‘Superman building’?

Superman Developer Submitting Plan to State, $215M Project, 285 Units

‘Superman Building’ Historical Photos

You can read more about this ongoing advocacy issue below.

8/6/21 Update:

In light of recent news about the Industrial Trust Building, PPS issued the following letter to Rhode Islanders. We also encourage you to read this opinion piece from the Providence Journal. You can also check out Executive Director Brent Runyon’s interview with WPRI12 here.

Ever since the Industrial Trust Building (1928) was vacated in April 2013, PPS has advocated for its adaptive reuse. We continue to educate the public about the Superman Building, as the Art Deco skyscraper is lovingly known, which remains the tallest building in Rhode Island.

In 2019, PPS was successful in having Superman listed on the National Trust of HIstoric Preservation’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places. This prompted national attention on Providence’s vacant skyscraper, while Superman continues to top PPS’ own Most Endangered Properties list annually– and will do so until a solution is identified.

In Spring 2020, PPS partnered with RISD’s Interior Architecture department to host the graduate design studio in adaptive reuse, Saving Superman. Under the difficulties of a pandemic-impacted semester, the architecture students produced seven creative and plausible reuse plans– from housing to entertainment to a vertical garden. These proposals were featured in the online, London-based magazine, Dezeen.

In October of 2020, in celebration of this architectural icon’s 92nd birthday, the Providence Preservation Society and Building Enclosure Science collaborated to produce a white paper to address common misconceptions and to highlight the adaptive reuse potential of this local landmark.

PPS strives to put Superman at the forefront of peoples’ minds so that as we face challenges in housing, education, and public health, this 92 year old landmark and the keystone of downtown Providence can be part of the solution and once again shine as the beacon of our city.

Check back here for continuing developments and follow us on social media @pvdpreservation.

Superman Building tops list of Providence’s Most Endangered Properties

New deal possible for Providence’s Superman Building officials in talks

The future of Providence’s Superman Building up in the air

Governor McKee in ‘Heavy’ ongoing negotiations for Superman, proposal ‘has legs’

2020 White Paper on the Industrial Trust Building

Superman Building named one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Superman celebrates its 90th birthday

Superman on the 2020 Most Endangered Properties List

Online Architecture Guide listing

RISD Saving Superman Studio

RI leaders discuss options for saving Superman Building

Local man brings ‘night light’ back to Superman Building

Superman Studio and PPS featured in London design magazine Dezeen

© 2023 Providence Preservation Society. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.