Owner of Art Deco tower to make new pitch

Proposed floor plans for 111 Westminster St.

The owners of the landmark Art Deco tower at 111 Westminster St. showed plans Wednesday to convert the former bank building into about 280 apartments.

The proposal comes amid plans to completely change the landscape of Kennedy Plaza.

"It's the biggest building in downtown and it obviously fronts onto Kennedy Plaza, and so it would be an incredible convergence of luck if they both came together at the same time," said Steve Durkee of Cornish Architects.

But for that to happen there needs to be money --- millions and millions of dollars to redevelop the building into apartments.

The building's owners asked the state for $75 million in public financing last year. The General Assembly didn't go for it.

"We hope to continue to work with them, and we'll be talking to them in the next couple of weeks. We hope to have a new proposal next week to present to them. We've been working very hard on fine-turning the project," Durkee said.

Durkee said if there's no funding, there will be no redevelopment.

The developers of 111 Westminster St. think there is demand for downtown living. They point to the Waterplace towers, where only 13 condos are left for sale after 193 already sold.

"We know it's complicated. We know it's a complicated project. We know there is a lot of scrutiny, a lot of concern, a lot of skepticism based upon previous failed investments in the state. And we would just argue that this is not like that at all. This is bricks and mortar," Durkee said.

All of the apartments would be rentals, not condos for sale like Waterplace, with suggested rents between $1,100 and $2,700 a month.

"We're hopeful. We understand the climate and we're going to do the best we can," Durkee said.