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Brooklyn's Iconic Slave Theater Sold for $18.5 Million

By Camille Bautista | December 1, 2015 11:38am
 The Slave Theater on Fulton Street near Bedford Avenue recently sold for $18.5 million, along with two additional properties on Halsey Street.
The Slave Theater on Fulton Street near Bedford Avenue recently sold for $18.5 million, along with two additional properties on Halsey Street.
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DNAinfo/Paul DeBenedetto

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Fulton Street’s historic Slave Theater sold for more than $18 million in late November, according to city records.

The building and its surrounding properties have been the subject of a contentious real estate battle over the past few years, with a tug-of-war over ownership and some locals expressing fears of its transformation into residences.

Fulton Halsey Holdings LLC picked up the theater at 1215 Fulton St. near Bedford Avenue as well as two nearby sites at 10 and 16-18 Halsey Street on Nov. 4, according to records and The Real Deal, which first reported the $18.5 million sale.

Wessex Holdings LLC, 6901 Fifth Avenue EEJ LLC, and 6901 Fifth Avenue SH LLC also shared in the total sale, city records show.

Eli Hamway, listed in documents as the manager of Fulton Halsey Holdings LLC, is the developer behind the site and heads several other projects in Prospect Heights and Williamsburg, the Real Deal reported.

It’s unclear what the new owner plans for the Slave Theater, but neighbors say they’ve heard and seen construction work underway at the Halsey Street properties.

No permits have been issued for the sites, according to city records. A full vacate order exists for 1215 Fulton from 2012 due to a partial collapse, according to the Department of Buildings, and complaints have been filed for the Halsey Street properties citing the work done without permits posted.

Hamway and representatives for the LLCs could not be reached for comment.

Prior to the finalized sale, groups had been protesting outside the Fulton Street site and launched an online petition and fundraising campaign to ‘reclaim’ the theater.

The Slave Theater once served as a hub for civil rights activism as well as arts and culture. The property has been vacant since 1998. It's former owner, Judge John L. Phillips Jr., died in 2008.

Following his death, the theater became the center of a legal battle between Phillips’ nephew and executor of his estate, Samuel Boykin, and the judge’s former partner in the theater, Clarence Hardy.

Boykin later sold the property to Fulton Halsey Development Group LLC for $2.1 million in 2013.

A Brooklyn theater company was reportedly working with Fulton Halsey Development Group LLC to build a new community theater and now plans to reach out to the new owner to discuss future plans, according to The Brooklyn Paper.