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Victoria Theater to Become Hotel, Housing and Arts Space

By Jeff Mays | August 31, 2011 3:45pm
The Victoria Theater on 125th Street will be redeveloped into hotel and residential space.
The Victoria Theater on 125th Street will be redeveloped into hotel and residential space.
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HARLEM—The Victoria Theater on 125th Street will be turned into a hotel, residential rentals and office and community space after earlier development plans were halted due to the economic downturn.

Danforth Development Corporation was chosen by the Empire State Development Corporation to redevelop the theater, which was most recently a cinema, in 2008.

But without the ability to secure loans, the project stalled. Danforth has now found a new development partner in Exact Capital, said Curtis Archer, president of the Harlem Community Development Corporation.

"Nothing was moving and the banks weren't interested in a hotel project. Things that they might have normally said yes to they were saying no to," Archer said of the economic downturn that halted the project.

News of the Victoria theater's development was first reported in the New York Times.

The 1917 building, located between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, will break ground next year, said Archer. The current plan calls for the facade of the theater to be preserved with two towers rising on top.

A 175-room hotel will occupy one tower and and a 140-unit residential building would fill the other. The two towers will be 20-plus stories, making them one of the tallest structures in Harlem next to the state office building.

Among the groups to occupy the main space will be the Classical Theater of Harlem, Jazzmobile, the Harlem Arts Alliance and the Apollo Theater Foundation, Archer added.

Archer said it is the cultural element of the project that makes it really exciting. The defunct Mart 125 across the street will be the new home for the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.

"It's going to take advantage of using 125th street as the cultural hub," said Archer.

But he is also excited about the potential economic impact with the commercial space's restaurants and shops. The new hotel may also have a ballroom that can be used for local functions.

"There will be economic benefits from the jobs. Local employment will be one of the key things about this project. We want to see that local residents are hired," said Archer.