Problems For Fane Tower

Nothing a little creative financing couldn’t solve. All signs indicate that money has become a problem for tower developer Jason Fane. What we do know is that the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission would really like to hear from him. Six months after getting the green light for the project, Fane has missed deadlines and failed to produce legal documents as required by the terms of the agreement. Eli Sherman of WPRI reports:

A series of letters requested by Target 12 show the developer, Jason Fane, has repeatedly failed to meet deadlines and respond to a series of requests made by the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission.

“We are writing to express our disappointment at your organization’s failure to perform its obligations under our agreement,” wrote Robert Davis, I-195 Commission chairman, in a letter to Fane dated Tuesday.

The tension between the commission and Fane has been growing for months, but started almost immediately after a purchase and sales agreement for the land was signed on Jan. 17, according to the letters.

Even the unfettered-development boosters at the Providence Journal can no longer ignore the warning signs. In “I-195 panel frustrated with Hope Point Tower developer” reporter Patrick Anderson asked Fane attorney Dante Bellini the question on everybody’s mind: Can Fane finance the tower?

“That is not something I am prepared to talk about,” Bellini said. “Financing is based on final design.”

We have Senate President Dominick Ruggerio to thank for this. He is why the latest budget passed by the general assembly, and signed into law by Governor Raimondo, includes a carved-out $25m tax credit for the Fane Tower. Ruggerio has also rammed through legislation stripping control of I-195 land from the City of Providence and suspending the State Historic Tax Credit program with over 60 projects on the waiting list.


I met recently with the indefatigable Sharon Steele, President of the Jewelry District Association and President of Building Bridges Providence, for an update on the situation. (Building Bridges — along with real estate broker and appraiser Peter Scotti, and two other parties soon to be added as plaintiffs — has filed a lawsuit against Fane, the I-195 Commission, and the members of the Providence City Council — naming them individually. We will keep you posted on that.) The following interview has been edited for space and clarity.

Steele began by explaining that tower opponents are fighting three battles right now.

PDD: What are the three things you are fighting for?

Steele: One — Defeat Fane. Unequivocally, unilaterally . . . he walks.

Two — Not to allow any division of Parcel 42, until there is yet another viable developer and a proposal, because once you divide that parcel you make it nearly impossible to site a building in such a way that the mass and density work because it is a narrow and long parcel. It’s a very difficult parcel to work with on a good day, and if you split it in half it becomes doubly difficult.

Three — I want to go back to the legislature and have them give us back the 25,000 sq-ft that they stole because of Fane.

PDD: Has Fane been missing deadlines?

Steele: This is the third extension that Fane would have been given to secure his TSA (tax-stabilization agreement) from the city. It was due on July 31. He then got an extension to the middle of August. Third extension was to the beginning of September.

PDD: What happens the last day of October?

Steele: The two things that happen the last day of October are the following: [Fane] needs a document to prove that he has the financing for this development and another one to prove that he has a construction agreement with the entity that is going to build it, that has cost estimates and a payment plan.

He can’t produce either of these documents because nobody will finance this, and if nobody is going to finance it, how the hell is somebody going to build it.

PDD: Where do we stand regarding the city and its TSA?

In order for the city to negotiate a TSA they have to have certain documents from the applicant, in this case Fane. So they would need to know what the building looks like, how much it’s going to cost to build, etc. . . . the city charges a fee for the privilege of getting a TSA. This happens every day . . . all the time, every developer does it. The TSA should already be done. My sources tell me, it doesn’t exist. (See below for tax assessors response.*)

PDD: A final thought?

Steele: This was a fraud that Fane has perpetrated on the city and the state as a direct result of Dominick Ruggerio and the labor unions driving the train that says: We will force buildings to be built anywhere and everywhere irrespective of anything.


*Tax Assessor inquiry: The Mayor’s communications director, Emily Crowell, responded to an inquiry last week, regarding any relevant TSA filing. She answered via email: “I checked with our Tax Assessor’s office and they have not received any applications from the developer and are unaware of any upcoming deadlines.”

Robert C. Davis, Chairman of the I-195 Commission has not responded to our request for clarification on the missed deadlines and the general lack of cooperation. From Sherman’s piece for WPRI:

The deadline for the designs, originally due July 10, was extended by the commission for a Wednesday meeting, but the plans never arrived, according to Davis’ letter.

“While we hoped that the meeting would be productive, because of your organization’s conduct, our expectations are considerably diminished,” Davis wrote Tuesday.



1 thought on “Problems For Fane Tower”

  1. Kyle Agronick

    You guys are going to fight this tooth and nail and probably win. Then we’ll get a two story office building with a law firm instead of thousands of people living working and paying taxes in Providence.

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