$54 million fight over vacant Superman Building is settled

Tallest Building Lawsuit
FILE - In this March 27, 2013, file photo the Bank of America Building, center, also known as the Superman building, stands among other buildings in downtown Providence, R.I. A $54 million lawsuit over Rhode Island’s tallest building has been settled just before a trial was scheduled to begin in federal court. A trial had been set to begin Monday, May 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

PROVIDENCE, R.I./May 8, 2017 (AP)(STL.News) — A $54 million lawsuit over the state’s tallest building, called the Superman Building, has been settled just before a trial was scheduled to begin in federal court.

The owner of the Providence skyscraper had sued its former tenant, Bank of America, saying the bank allowed it to fall into disrepair. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank had countersued, arguing it spent millions of dollars on maintenance before it moved out four years ago.

The owner, High Rock Westminster Street, based in Newton, Massachusetts, and the bank said they were pleased to have settled the lawsuit.

“High Rock looks forward to exploring options to make the most of its ownership of the building,” a joint statement said. “Bank of America looks forward to continuing its long-standing partnership with the city and people of Providence.”

The terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed. A trial had been set to begin Monday.

The 26-story building has been vacant for years and has become a symbol of Rhode Island’s economic decline.

It was the tallest skyscraper in New England when it opened in 1928 as the Industrial National Bank Building and became the most recognizable feature on the Providence skyline. The Art Deco-style skyscraper, at the heart of downtown, got its superhero nickname because of its similarity to the Daily Planet headquarters in the old TV show.

High Rock has said in court that Bank of America took such bad care of the building over a period of years that the limestone facade is crumbling, among other problems.

Bank of America had said that it spent tens of millions of dollars on maintenance and repairs on the building during its lease and contended that High Rock decided to sue so it could get the money it needs to convert the building into apartments.

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