PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Gov. Dan McKee is questioning the financial woes of the developer of the so-called Superman building, as high interest rates put construction projects nationwide in jeopardy.

“That has been lagging for years,” McKee said Wednesday of the Superman building redevelopment. “We provided the resources to the Superman building over a year ago when interest rates were low. I don’t look at interest rates as a reason that would stop that project.”

“They’ve had plenty of time to move forward,” he added.

Owners of the Industrial Trust Building at 111 Westminster, known locally as the Superman Building, said last week that high interest rates, inflation and other economic pressures have increased the total price of the project to turn the vacant skyscraper into hundreds of apartments.

The project was pegged at $220 million last April, when it was announced with much fanfare by the McKee administration, city leaders and David Sweetser, the owner of High Rock Development. The project is slated to be funded with millions in taxpayer money from the state and city, along with private investment raised by the developer.

Construction was initially slated to begin in the fall.

Bill Fischer, a spokesperson for High Rock Development, disputed McKee’s remarks in a phone interview Thursday.

“We are experiencing challenges because of this interest rate environment,” Fischer said. “If anybody is surprised that this impacts the Superman building and other projects, they should turn on CNBC and watch Chairman Powell’s press conferences.”

Fischer said the overall cost estimate has increased by millions of dollars, but did not provide a new overall price tag. He said the developer has not asked the state for more taxpayer dollars, but the company is currently determining if they can fund the financing gap with private funds.

“We are not dragging our feet, we have not tried to change the structure of our agreement,” Fischer said. “Any frustration directed at us is misguided.”

While the deal came together last April, when interest rates were lower, Fischer argued it takes time for engineers, accountants and lawyers to get the project going.

“You don’t just flip a switch,” Fischer said. “This notion that someone said ‘yes’ and a crew was going in with a sledgehammer in three days … it’s creating a sense of frustration.”

Fischer emphasized that the developer is not planning to limit the scope of the project, and taxpayer funds have not yet been spent.

McKee said he will continue to work with the Superman building developers, while also drawing a comparison to the failed Fane Tower project.

“At some point in time, just like with the Fane building, you can’t lose something you never had,” McKee said. “That Fane project was never a project that was ever going to get off the ground.”

Providence Mayor Brett Smiley on Thursday said he has also met with the Superman developers, pledging to continue to work to get the building redeveloped.

“They have not made a specific ask for additional financial support,” Smiley said. “But they have certainly flagged their concerns, which by the way we’re seeing in projects across the state, across the country.”

Smiley said the redevelopment is a “top priority” for the city, citing the housing crisis and the need to revitalize downtown.

“That will provide a really important boost in the amount of available apartments in our city,” Smiley said. “I remain with an open door to do what we can to see that building get redeveloped.”

The discussion surrounding the Superman building’s financial future comes amid widespread uncertainty over the outlook for Rhode Island’s biggest development projects.

In Pawtucket, city officials hit pause on issuing $27 million in bonds to help pay for the new Tidewater Landing soccer stadium at the same time the developer hasn’t secured all of its private capital for the construction.

The developer and public officials have blamed inflation and high interest rates for the financing woes. Project proponents claim the developer has already put $23 million into construction, but state officials so far have not released receipts they say have been submitted for review.

During the same comments to reporters where he doubted that interest rates were affecting the Superman building, McKee said he was “fully confident” that the Tidewater project will move forward.

He has previously blamed interest rates and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for negatively affecting the Pawtucket project.

Steph Machado ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter covering Providence, politics and more for 12 News. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Eli Sherman contributed to this report.