Senate panel to consider aid for landmark's renovation

A Massachusetts-based developer has asked the Rhode Island Senate for $39 million in state aid to redevelop the vacant building at 111 Westminster St. in Providence into apartments.

David Sweetser of High Rock Development told a Senate panel Tuesday the $115 million project would create jobs and spur economic activity. He said no such historic re-use project can be done without state assistance.

The plan calls for a state contribution of $9.75 million annually for four years. High Rock wouldn't get any funding until project completion.

Some have compared the request for assistance with that of 38 Studios, which got a $75 million state-backed loan and later went bankrupt. Sen. Joshua Miller, the legislation sponsor, says this request, by contrast, is completely transparent.

Homeless advocates testified against the bill, calling it a "giveaway" for luxury housing.