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Mar. 1, 2013

Harlem’s Victoria Theater to Be Reborn as Mixed-Use Cultural Venue

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Harlem’s historic Victoria Theater on 125th Street will undergo a $142 million renovation spearheaded by Danforth Development Partners and Exact Capital. Designed in 1917 by famous architect Thomas W. Lamb for the Loew’s Corporation, Victoria Theater opened as a luxury vaudeville and motion picture theater with 2,394 seats.

In 1977, the venue was acquired by the Harlem Community Development Corporation and, a decade later, expanded with five movie theaters that replaced the large auditorium, stage areas and mezzanine.

The theater shuttered in 1989 and was designated a city landmark in 1993. Its status remained uncertain until 2004, when the Harlem Community Development Corporation started looking for redevelopment proposals. According to The Uptowner, the contract was awarded to Danforth Development Partners LLC but the project stalled because of the recession.

After many years of bureaucratic and financial efforts, the Danforth/Exact Capital joint venture will finally break ground under design plans by Aufgang & Subotovsky Architecture and Planning. Apart from restoring and upgrading the theater’s original lobby and façade, the development team will add two 26-story towers above the existing building.

The new structures will include a 210-room hotel operated under the Cambria Suites flag, a 5,000-square-foot ballroom, and a 25,000-square-foot arts center for cultural organizations, Real Estate Weekly reports.

The project also includes a residential component—206 apartments atop the hotel, half of which will be affordable—and 24,000 square feet of street level retail space that will feature a large restaurant, jazz club and small stores. Designed to achieve LEED Silver certification, the development will create around 700 construction jobs and 373 permanent jobs. It is estimated that the project will generate more than $9 million in state and city tax revenue.

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Rendering credits to Aufgang & Subotovsky Architecture and Planning