PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee said this week that tearing down Providence’s iconic Industrial Trust Building could be an option.
That remark didn’t sit well with a lot of Rhode Islanders, nor the Providence Preservation Society.
The so-called “Superman” building has been vacant for eight years now, and there’s no solution in sight for the state’s tallest structure, so 12 News sought out the opinion of passing locals and tourists on how they believe it should be used.
“This is a gorgeous building, I wouldn’t tear it down, I’d probably turn it in to apartments,” said Molly Cate Sansouci, who was visiting from Kentucky.
“I feel like it’s a cool spot. There’s a ton to do around here,” she added. “I’d like to go in it. I’d live there.”
The thought of turning it into a mixed-use facility was a constant among people walking the streets of Providence on Friday.
“Honestly, I love the mix of old and new architecture,” said Shannon Barnes, who was visiting the city for the first time from Merrimack, New Hampshire. “I think it could be housing, the main floor could be great for shops, maybe a museum. I look at the commerce and there’s a lot you can play with.”
For locals like Despina Durand, she said there’s “no shortage of need for housing,” and McKee’s comments clearly struck a chord.
“It would be emotionally devastating, verging on criminal in my mind,” she said. “The Providence skyline would never be the same.”
An attitude shared by the Providence Preservation Society.
“The importance of the building is really threefold,” Executive Director Brett Runyan said. “Architecturally, it’s an incredible Art Deco design, the beautiful details that tell the story of Rhode Island from beginning to end.”
“An incredible amount of energy went into creating this building, both the people energy but also the materials that were used,” Runyan continued.
Runyan is calling on the owners of the building, High Rock Development, to step up.
“I would say that it’s time to do something. We’re tired of looking at the scaffolding,” he said. “The building needs attention, it needs a whole lot of attention, that can be done and really, if they think there’s going to be a future for this building, like we do, they need to invest in it now. It’s been waiting too long.”
12 News reached out to High Rock Development who had no comment at this time.