After the Rhode Island economy was crippled by kryptonite, Superman had to drag himself to the floor of the General Assembly to beg for help.
And the star struck General Assembly seems ready to come to his aid. Not taking a lesson from the time Curt Schilling was given a special deal by the RIEDC to the tune of $75 million dollars to "save" the Rhode Island economy, the General Assembly is now considering granting tens of millions of dollars in tax credits to developers to renovate Providence's iconic Superman building into apartments. (Okay, so to be fair, the tax credits are tax breaks instead of a state guaranteed loan, but remember RI refused to let Schilling access any state tax credits just before 38 Studios failed)
Similar to the Schilling deal, the superman deal has the support of a powerful politician, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, (Schilling's deal had support of Governor Carcieri and Speaker of the House Gordon Fox) and once again the deal is painted as a drastic step for a desperate time. Taveras said the deal is crucial for Providence to maintain a vibrant downtown economy, and at the time of the Schilling deal it was painted as RI's final hope to revive the economy, it was the bottom of the ninth, bases were loaded and unfortunately for RI it was a swing and a miss.
Any "Brainiac" can see that "Superman" is in a desperate place after Bank of America *ahem LexCorp* announced they were leaving the downtown skyscraper and moving into other, more affordable downtown offices. The Man of Steel of the comics often found himself in a desperate situation and never turned to the people of Smallville for a lifeline. Superman overcame his struggles with Kryptonite and even was able to save some of his own people, the Kryptonians in the process.
But not Rhode Island's Superman. Superman went to the State House cape in hand and asked for help. Here in "Bizarro world" it's critical that we have more upscale apartments in Providence. Somehow, more apartments will save the economy… try explaining that one to the citizens of Providence struggling to keep a roof over their heads.
Downtown Providence currently has the 903 and the WaterPlace luxury residences as premium upscale urban living facilities. The Superman apartments would just add one more option. Problem is with the city nearing 20 murders in 2012 and gang violence seemingly on the rise, Providence is not exactly the most desirable living destination. While the urban professional vibe is a great goal, the city needs jobs in order to attract urban professionals to live there. Simply developing a building into apartments is not the solution to the city's economy.
Now Providence may very well be on the road to recovery and if that is the case shouldn't the Superman man building be able to redevelop and attract tenants without the need for tax incentives. Aren't state tax credits meant to benefit the entire state, not just one municipality? The argument is that if Providence maintains a vibrant downtown it will benefit the entire state but tell that to places like Pawtucket, which struggles to keep life in the downtown area and Bald Hill Road in Warwick, where several of the businesses are vacant.
While the building truly is a Providence icon it is by no means the life blood of the city and surely the city will survive even if the building has to stand vacant for a while. When the Rhode Island mall closed it was the end of an era for Rhode Island but Warwick survived and now the mall has been bought by new developers who have big plans to reopen.
The Superman of the comic books never turned to the people of Smallville and asked to be saved, he always found a way to overcome his obstacles. Here is to hoping the Superman building will be able to do the same so that it can save Providence from "Doomsday" without relying on the taxpayers.
Dee DeQuattro is the assignment desk manager and digital news coordinator for ABC6. She studied politics and communications and holds a master's degree from Providence College. Follow her on twitter @deedequattro and log on to ABC6 .com for her latest in depth coverage of politics and news.