Thursday, April 17, 2008

Another type of Victorian tragedy

Today, the Victoria Theater is the hulking ghost of Harlem.

...a $130 million plan to transform the space and re-open it to local community arts groups is facing opposition from neighborhood activists who want to see it returned to its original grandeur.

Local developer Steve Williams of Danforth Development Partners, LLC, wants to transform the 1917 burlesque theater into a 30-story condo/hotel, cutting up the ornate 2, 400-seat theater into two mini-theaters while preserving the facade and parts of the lobby.

The developers and city officials...say that union regulations make a large theater unsustainable. What the neighborhood really needs, they say, are smaller venues for local arts groups.

The Harlem Arts Alliance, the Classical Theater of Harlem, and the National Jazz Museum are all slated to operate out of space.

Harlem fights for Victoria Theater

The Victoria Theater was designed by Thomas Lamb, who created dozens of ornate movie palaces in the 1920s and ''30s. The theater was host to some of the early fights of a young Cassius Clay as well as the last New York City performance of Josephine Baker. It has also been determined eligible for listing on the state's Register of Historic Places. A spokeswoman for the Landmarks Preservation Commission said that it was currently under review, but a hearing on the site had not yet been scheduled.

This is how things work in NYC. Developer cuts deal with local arts groups in order to make it look like they care about the community. Who can be opposed to that? (See just about any project in LIC.) It works every time.


Anonymous said...

Power to the people!!!

Disclaimer: Developers not included.

EJEng said...

So, "The Harlem Arts Alliance, the Classical Theater of Harlem, and the National Jazz Museum are all slated to operate out of space." Whoppee Doo!

How much longer must we be the "object of entertainment" rather than having stakes and franchised in it? I suggest decline these "NICE" sounding morsels that will have us forsaken the prize.

"SAY NO TO" ESDC , HSDC and Danforth Development Partners. We decline to give away to you or anyone:
our dignity;
our jewels;
our legacy;
our history;
our today;
and... our tomorrow!

As an alternative approach, I suggest that Harlemites take a look at a better thought out proposal found at-

It would be a shame to loose the Victoria- a big piece of Harlem History in exchange for a few bones thrown to the Harlem community to build a coupla matchbox auditoriums and s’more hi-priced condominiums.