After some hesitation, I support developer Jason Fane’s proposal to build a squiggly 46-story skyscraper in Providence’s Route 195 relocation district. I realize that some architecture experts hate it, and others like it. But in any case, it would bring new structural excitement to the city, which the city could use. A much better place for the tower would be in a vacant lot in the middle of the Financial District but Mr. Fane says that won’t work for him.
Not surprisingly, some local real estate agents and landlords are fighting hard against the project. The tower would presumably employ its own rental and sales agents. And people who now live in other, lower buildings nearby would love to move into what would be called Hope Point Tower for the impressive views. I think that it would be seen as a very desirable place to live.
It’s sort of a cliché to say this, but the Eiffel Tower was hated by many Parisiens when it went up, in 1889, as were the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center when they went up in the early ‘70s. But well before Saudi terrorists destroyed them, in 2001, they, like the Eiffel Tower, had become symbols of their cities, beloved by millions. (I worked across the street from the Twin Towers and always hated them.)
There are some intriguing questions – e.g., Mr. Fane says that the building, which would be an as yet undisclosed mix of rental and owned units, would have about 800 residents. But how many would actually be in residence much of the time? Would some of the “residents’’ be flight capitalists from Russia, China and other corrupt dictatorships buying units to store and/or launder their money and rarely if ever be there – which has happened a lot in such very rich cities as New York, Boston and San Francisco. Or, I could imagine, given the many very rich families represented by the student bodies of Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, would a lot be occupied by rich kids only in the academic year and/or (only occasionally) by parents flying in from around the world to visit them? What sort of commitment to the city would they have?
Meanwhile, that interest rates are rising and that we may be heading into recession next year may doom the project, even if officials finally give it the go-ahead after the very long delay up to this point.]
Hit this link to see an article on the opening of the Industrial Trust Building (aka “Superman Building’’) in 1928, a much more boosterish time in Rhode Island.