Designed by architect Thomas W. Lamb, the structure was said to be one of the largest, and most beautiful theaters in the New York area. Built in 1917 at a cost of $250,000, it had a seating capacity of over 2,400 and it is located on the same block as the historic Apollo Theater.
The Victoria Theatre will be the new home for The Classical Theater of Harlem, Apollo Theater Foundation, Harlem Arts Alliance and two community performance spaces, along with The Harlem Renaissance Hotel by Marriott, and rental apartments. We have no completion date.
The theatre, which has been empty since 1989, is scheduled for a redevelopment. The plan will include preserving its historic facade, lobby, marquis and signage and transform the space into 385,000 square feet of mixed use space which will include 191 mixed-income residential rental units, half of which will be affordable – and a 210 room, full-service hotel. The project, located at 233 West 125th Street, will soar to 26 stories.
As part of the project, The Apollo Theater will create the Apollo Performing Arts Center, two new theaters within the Victoria Theater. The theaters will be the first physical expansion of the Apollo in its nearly 85-year history. Scheduled to open in fall 2020, the two new theaters at the Victoria space will allow the nonprofit Apollo Theater, which will operate the spaces, to increase the number of programming, educational, and community programs it offers. They will also house the Classical Theatre of Harlem, and Harlem Arts Alliance, the cultural partners designated by Empire State Development, enhancing Apollo’s advocacy for African-American, African-diasporic, and Harlem-based artists and culture. In conjunction with the initiative, the Apollo will develop a theater rental subsidy program for nonprofits, with details to be announced. The Victoria Theater’s revitalization into a creative and community resource expands on the Apollo’s mission to work with and support a greater number of emerging and established artists of color across disciplines, and serve as an artistic, educational, and community resource.
Apollo’s 25,000-square foot facility, designed by Kostow Greenwood Architects, will be located on the third and fourth floors of the building. The expanded venue will allow the The Apollo Theater to serve the needs of its artists, artistic partners, staff, audiences, the community, and tourists who travel to Harlem every year. Upcoming programs include an Artist-In-Residence, with support from the Ford Foundation; a Salon Series; and The Apollo Theater Academy, developing the next generation of leaders in performing arts, entertainment and media.
“When we learned that the Victoria Theater was going to be redeveloped, we knew we wanted to be a part of a project to help protect the spirit and heritage that makes Harlem an integral part of New York City, the nation and the world. As a nonprofit organization, we continually evaluate what the Apollo offers our diverse community—whether that’s a student intern learning what it takes to stage a show, a Harlem neighbor coming to see a Motown legend, a tourist visiting Amateur Night at the Apollo, or an artist with whom we are collaborating to create new work.” written by Jonelle Procope, President & CEO Apollo Theater in an email.
GothamToGo will be following the Victoria Theatre project from the ground-breaking until the doors open. Below is a chronological update.
A groundbreaking ceremony took place in April, 2017, hosted by the Lam Group, Exact Capital, and Danforth Development. funders for the project include the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Goldman Sachs, and other sources.
August 30, 2017
The site will extend from 125th Street to 126th Street. We stopped by on August 30th (2017) to check on its progress. Images below were taken from West 126th Street, behind the existing Victoria Theatre. The project will cost approximately $178 million, with an anticipated completion date in 2020.
The architect of record is Aufgang Architects ~ who was also the architect of record for The Corn Exchange Bank Building further East on 125th Street.
September 14, 2018
Above and below ~ images taken on West 126th Street
Images below taken on West 125th Street.
Gifts and grants from a variety of public and private funders helped to make the theaters at the Victoria possible, including Booth Ferris Foundation, Empire State Development, the Harlem Community Development Corporation, The New York Community Trust – LuEsther T. Mertz Advised Fund, and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone. Read more about the project on Broadway World.
We can’t close this post without an image of 125th Street, looking west from Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd. This streetscape will change as the renovated Victoria Theatre begins to rise, and the Renaissance Hotel and Victoria Tower take shape.
Don’t get lost. Get a Map of Harlem!
While you’re here, take a look at East 125th Street, a work in progress.