Owner of ‘Superman’ building scrambles to fix revoked RI business registration

PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – The company that owns the so-called “Superman” building downtown has not been in “good standing” to conduct business in Rhode Island for the last five years, Target 12 has discovered.

The building at 111 Westminster St. is officially owned by High Rock Westminster Street LLC, a separate entity that Massachusetts-based High Rock Development created when it bought the skyscraper in 2008.

Records reviewed by Target 12 show High Rock Westminster Street LLC had its incorporation revoked by the Rhode Island secretary of state’s office back in June 2017 for failing to file an annual report the prior year.

High Rock has remained out of compliance since then, and has not filed an annual report with the state since 2015.

The revocation – also known as loss of good standing status – can have “serious consequences,” according to the secretary of state’s website. Those include fines and penalties; personal liability; loss of name and legal rights; and difficulty securing capital and financing.

High Rock spokesperson Bill Fischer acknowledged the problem Wednesday, hours before state leaders are set to take their first vote on providing taxpayer subsidies for the building’s $ 220 million redevelopment plan.

“It shouldn’t have happened, and we addressed it immediately when it was brought to our attention by WPRI,” Fischer said. “It simply came to our notice then. I think it’s a left-hand, right-hand thing between accountants and lawyers. ”

This isn’t the first time paperwork problems have caused headaches for High Rock. Last year the skyscraper was briefly put on the city of Providence’s tax sale list for failing to pay its property taxes. At the time, Fischer also chalked that up to an internal miscommunication at High Rock.

Asked Wednesday whether the same problems that caused High Rock to miss its property tax bill also caused it to let its incorporation registration lapse, Fischer said, “There is no correlation between this matter and the lapse in tax payments from that previous year.”

Fischer also said High Rock is “fully compliant” on all of its federal, state and city taxes for 111 Westminster at the moment. (Revoked business entities are still required to pay Rhode Island’s minimum corporate tax, which is currently $ 400 a year.)

Fischer said High Rock has used FedEx to submit required paperwork and fees to rectify its incorporation problem, and expects the secretary of state’s office “to issue a Certificate of Good Standing by tomorrow or Friday at the latest.”

A spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office, Johnathan Berard, said High Rock had not yet filed a request for reinstatement as of Wednesday at 3 pm

“Any documents received today will be processed in a timely manner,” he said.

Gov. Dan McKee is scheduled to chair a meeting of the RI Commerce Corp. vote Wednesday at 5 pm to approve $ 20.7 million in incentives to help offset the cost of redeveloping the Superman building.

“We feel optimistic about where we’re at,” Fischer said. “There’s a lot of support for the proposal. We’ve got some steps to go through, and tonight is one in a series of steps that need to be accomplished. And we’re looking forward to the vote this evening. ”

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics / business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nurse’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook

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