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In Harlem, Victoria Theater redevelopment reaches a construction milestone

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The Renaissance by Marriott hotel and its adjacent residential tower recently topped out

Renderings courtesy of Aufgang Architects

In Harlem, the long-planned Victoria Theater redevelopment continues to inch forward. Developers announced on Thursday that the Renaissance by Marriott hotel, which sits atop the historic theater, topped out at 26 stories, while its adjacent residential tower reached 27 stories.

Both the hotel and the residential tower, located at 233 West 125th Street, were designed by Aufgang Architects and developed by Exact Capital Group and Lam Group. The Renaissance hotel will have 210 rooms and a 5,000-square-foot ballroom; while the residential building will have 191 units, half of which will be affordable, the developers say.

Several details of historic Victoria Theater were preserved and restored, including its terra cotta facade and ornate lobby. “The theater’s historic facade, lobby, marquis and signage will be incorporated into this reimagined property, giving it the respect and honor it deserves as a significant part of Harlem’s history, culture, and architectural heritage,” real estate brokerage firm Lee & Associates’s website reads.

The project—which sits between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Frederick Douglass Boulevards—will include 25,000 square feet of retail space and a 25,000-square-foot arts center with two performance spaces and several arts and nonprofit organizations offices including the Apollo Theater Foundation, JazzMobile, the Classical Theater of Harlem, and the Harlem Arts Alliance.

Loews Victoria Theater, as it was originally known, was designed by Thomas Lamb and opened as a “vaudeville and motion picture” theater in 1917. At the time, it was one of several neighborhood theaters including the Apollo, the Hammerstein Opera House, and the Alhambra.

From 1950s through the ’70s, the theater became a go-to venue for entertainment and community events, until it was sold in 1977 to the Harlem Community Development Corporation. It operated as a movie theater until it closed in 1989, and was later occasionally used for church services. The structure remained unused for several years before the redevelopment plans were announced.