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Fane tower project gets another deadline extension

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – State regulators have again agreed to extend a tax-treaty deadline for the so-called Hope Point Tower, marking the fourth time the developer has been given longer to complete the process.

The Fane Organization, which is seeking to build a 46-story residential high-rise in downtown Providence, will now have until Oct. 10 to file a tax stabilization agreement application with the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, Target 12 has confirmed.

The application was originally due June 30.

The two sides have for months been unable to come to an agreement on the design of the project, which the developer points to as a reason for why the company can’t put an estimate on how much the tower will cost to build. 

The developer, Jason Fane, inked a purchase and sales agreement with the quasi-public commission in January, representing a major step forward for the controversial project. But Fane hasn’t yet filed his tax-treaty application, which could provided details on the expected size and scope of the project.

Cara Cromwell, a spokesperson for the 195 Commission, said Fane had asked for an extension in order to file the tax-treaty application after design review. The commission is now scheduled to review the tower’s design at its meeting Sept. 25, she said.

Supporters of the tower, led by Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, see it as a much-needed boost of development and investment for the capital city, which will ultimately create Rhode Island’s tallest building. The General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo earmarked up to $25 million for the project in the current 2019-20 budget. 

Opponents, meanwhile, are skeptical the project will ever be built, and question whether a tower of luxury apartments is really what’s needed in a city where the median household income totals only about $40,000. Democratic Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has opposed the project in the past, but many city councilors have showed their support. 

It’s unclear whether there’s any penalty for failing to meet tax-treaty application deadlines, but the 195 Commission has used the benchmarks as leverage in the past.

Last month, the commission told Fane it would not extend the most recent deadline until the developer agreed in writing to a $3.7 million “guaranty,” a technical term used in real estate development to describe the money the state would collect if the project falls through.

Fane earlier in the year requested the guaranty be reduced to $3 million. But after the commission’s warning last month, he agreed to the original amount.

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Follow him on Twitter

Ted Nesi contributed to this report.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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