The former Bank of America building at 111 Westminster St. in Providence is empty, and the developer says he needs $39 million in state aid to turn the building into apartments.
House Speaker Gordon Fox said the state doesn't have that kind of money.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee's nominee for economic development director, Marcel Valois, said Friday that he has concerns too.
"I am concerned, however, that's a sizeable amount of public investment for a residential project, though I fully understand that bringing 400 to 500 residents into downtown Providence with the spending capabilities they have would really help to enliven that Downcity area," Valois said during a taping of "10 News Conference."
Valois, who has not yet been confirmed, said regulatory reform is a must to improve Rhode Island's business climate. But he said a lot of work is now being done behind the scenes to make that happen.
"Not only are we studying it, not only are we making recommending it, I'm very thrilled about the potential for regulatory reform in Rhode Island," Valois said.
Valois was the economic development director during former Gov. Lincoln Almond's first term.