The changing face of 125th street moves forward. In 2008, the city rezoned Harlem’s main thoroughfare with a goal of replacing the many small-scale buildings along it with office towers, residential high-rises and cultural institutions. The Victoria Theater is the latest in a string of redevelopment projects.
In 2005, the Empire State Development Corporation started the process of turning the Victoria Theatre into a mixed-use hotel, condominium and art complex, but fell onto financial hard times and was shelved in the real estate crash.
But now the $100 million dollar project is back on and will start in the second half of next year. The main buliding of the theatre (built in 1917 by Thomas W. Lamb) will remain and will become the new home of the Classical Theater of Harlem, Jazzmobile, the Harlem Arts Alliance and the Apollo Theater Foundation, but the current design, by Aufgang & Subotovsky Architecture and Planning, are to build two towers above: 140-unit rental building and a separate 175-room hotel.
According to the NY Times, the theater’s facade will be preserved, as will several historic elements including gilded chandeliers, a fountain and a grand staircase. While the cultural center’s plans are not complete, it now calls for two performance spaces: a 199-seat theater and a 99-seat theater in which seats can be removed to create a multitude of configurations. In addition, the four-story theater building will house a scenery shop, costume shop, administrative offices, dressing rooms and a gallery.