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Fane Tower developer will miss tax treaty deadline – again

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The developer looking to build the tallest skyscraper in Providence will miss another deadline to file a tax-treaty application this week and is seeking to enter into a payment plan to cover a $300,000 filing fee.  

The developer, Jason Fane, is waiting for regulatory approval from the state historic preservation officer before he submits the long-overdue application for a tax-stabilization agreement, according to Jim Malachowski, a Fane spokesperson.

The application, technically due Thursday, would cost the developer about $300,000 to file, based on a city ordinance and Fane’s estimate that the skyscraper will cost about $300 million to complete. To compare, the developer of the newly constructed Wexford Innovation Center paid the city $52,950 to file its application.

Target 12 has also confirmed Fane’s attorney has approached the city about paying the application fee in installments rather than all at once. A Providence spokesperson said no other entity has received an installment plan, and the city has not yet responded to Fane’s request.

“It’s due to the magnitude of the project,” Malachowski said about the application fee. “It’s certainly a lot of money that’s nonrefundable and this project has been dragged along in the regulatory process, so it’s just prudent to be careful about a payment.”   

Fane’s company, The Fane Organization, has repeatedly failed to meet deadlines to file the tax-stabilization agreement application, which is required as part of its purchase-and-sales agreement with the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission signed in January.

The I-195 Commission, which must decide whether to extend Fane’s tax-treaty application deadline by Thursday, declined to comment.

Fane’s proposal to build a 46-story residential high-rise on the old highway land in downtown Providence has sparked debate in a city where proponents say the tower represents much needed new development.

But opponents argue it’s out of place, and say luxury apartments aren’t needed in a city where the median household income totals $40,366, according to the R.I. Department of Labor and Training.

When asked about the request to pay the filing fee in installments, long-time Fane critic Sharon Steele, who has filed a lawsuit against the project, raised a common concern shared among opponents.  

“He’s supposed to have more money than God and he doesn’t want to come up with $300,000?” said Steele, who is president of the Jewelry District Association. “Trustworthy would not be the first word that comes to mind.”

Malachowski pushed back, saying the concern that Fane lacks money to cover costs is “absolutely wrong.”

“I don’t know how they can comment on the financial wherewithal of someone without knowing anything about it,” he said. “He has spent a considerable amount of money already in bringing the project to where it is now.”

Malachowski did not immediately know how much the developer had spent so far on the proposed tower, known officially as the Hope Point Tower project. He said the decision not to file the tax-treaty application is due simply to the regulatory process, as the developer awaits approval from the state historic office.

State historic preservation officer J. Paul Loether did not immediately respond to a phone call requesting comment.

“We were hoping we would have it before the [I-195 Commission] hearing last month, but it has not come through,” Malachowski said. “Why would we spend time and money doing the application process [without approval]?”

When asked last month whether he was certain the project would actually happen, Fane told WPRI 12 the final outcome solely depended on the regulatory process moving forward.

“Until they approve it, I’m not building it,” he said.

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

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

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