Superman Building Tax Stabilization Agreement
Providence, RI – City Councilors received a proposed 30-year tax stabilization agreement (TSA) ordinance between the city and High Rock Westminster Street LLC, the owner of 111 Westminster Street, the iconic Superman Building in downtown Providence. The TSA is one component of the $223 million public-private partnership project, which includes the City of Providence, the Providence City Council, the State of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, Rhode Island Foundation, and Rhode Island Housing.
“The TSA is the next step in a potential redevelopment of the Superman Building. This project will inject more life and activity downtown by transforming a vacant deteriorating building into a notable Providence property,” said Council President John Igliozzi. “The Council must ensure the agreement benefits city taxpayers, the building owner, and creates affordable housing in the city.”
The proposed project is expected to create 1,600 construction jobs. Plans call for 285 residential apartments, with 20% of the units deed restricted as affordable. The building owner has committed to a mix of retail and community space in the Grand Banking Hall, opening the building’s doors to all. A “Buy Providence” initiative is also included in the TSA, where the owner will use good faith efforts to buy construction materials and use equipment and services from city vendors. The ordinance was referred to the Finance Committee for review. A full copy of the agreement is posted here.
Council Receives Municipal Reparations Commission Report
At tonight’s meeting, the City Council received the official report titled “A Matter of Truth” from the city’s Municipal Reparations Commission. The 194-page document is the product of a four-month process by the thirteen-member commission and was completed in August.
Additionally, the Council received the associated budget, titled “COVID-19 Equities Budget.” The proposal seeks to allocate $10 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding towards “advancing reparations and closing the present-day racial and wealth equity gap.”
City Council Calls for Progress Report on State Takeover of Providence Schools
The Providence City Council tonight passed a resolution calling on Rhode Island Governor, the Honorable Daniel J. McKee, and the Rhode Island Department of Education to conduct an independent study to provide a progress report on the State’s takeover of the Providence Public Schools.
The State of Rhode Island took control of Providence Public Schools in 2019 after a report by Johns Hopkins highlighted systemic failures within the school department leading to poor educational outcomes for Providence students. A new progress report would identify the school system’s improvements or lack thereof in the three years since the takeover.
“The state takeover of Providence schools was a significant moment in the effort to turn around learning outcomes for Providence students. The 2019 John Hopkins report made no secret that drastic changes needed to be made. Three years later, Providence educators, students, and families deserve to know how the takeover has reformed failing systems and whether our City’s youth are being provided a more quality education,” stated Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1). To read the full resolution, click here.
Council Gives First Passage on Proposed Changes to City’s Public Nuisance Policy
Tonight, the City Council gave first passage to a proposed ordinance amending the city’s current legislation surrounding “loud or unruly gatherings.” Currently, any building where police have documented a disturbance or “public nuisance” must display an orange sticker detailing the violation. The proposed ordinance seeks to make both property owners and residents responsible if stickers are removed or defaced. Under current law, only the resident is subject to fines.
“The orange sticker policy has been tremendously effective in my community, giving police an additional tool in identifying and addressing problem homes and businesses,” said Councilman Michael Correia (Ward 6). “By holding both the resident and property owners accountable, we’re eliminating any potential loopholes for violators.”
The proposed ordinance needs to pass a second time before going into effect. To read it in full, click here.
Ban on Marijuana in Parks
Councilors gave first passage tonight to an ordinance amending the city’s current ban on tobacco use in city parks, playgrounds, and recreational centers to include marijuana, after state law recently made recreational cannabis legal. Council President John Igliozzi (Ward 7) sponsored the amendment. A violation of the law would be punishable by a civil fine of $50. A second passage is necessary.
Colombian Folk-Dance Group Performance
The Council kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month with a lively RAÍCES Dance Group performance at the start of tonight’s meeting. RAÍCES performed a series of traditional Colombian Folk-Dances in celebration of Hispanic Heritage month, observed from September 15th through October 15th.