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Bed-Stuy co-living complex aims to pay ‘homage’ to Slave Theater

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Three new buildings will rise on the site of the former Slave Theater

A digital rendering of a red-brick building with a large, glassy marquee.
A rendering of the new building set to rise on the site of the former Slave Theater.
The Collective

The co-living company that purchased the former site of Bed-Stuy’s Slave Theater, once a hub of black performance art and activism, is partnering with Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto on a residential complex that aims to pay “homage to its ties to the historic neighborhood,” according to the firm behind the project.

The Collective, the London-based company that bought 1215 Fulton Street for $32.5 million earlier this year, will partner with Tower Holdings Group to erect two 10-story buildings and one seven-story building connected by a common space. To “preserve a sense of local identity” Fujimoto is relying on red brick for the exterior with a marquee at the main entrance. The facade will be punctuated by a series of windows designed to fill the interior with natural light while revealing glimpses of the spaces within to onlookers.

“The Slave Theater has an incredible legacy. Our project’s architectural design is based on these ideas, offering a space that will be as valuable to the surrounding neighborhood as it will be to The Collective’s community,” the company said in a statement.

A digital rendering shows a red brick building with  enclosed glass spaces that allow visitors to glimpse at the space within. At the base of the building is a populated plaza with tables, chairs and trees.
A rendering of the multi-building co-living complex.
The Collective

The 240,000-square-foot complex will bring 440 units to the area, which includes studios as well as two- and three-bedrooms for its co-living members. There will also be an artist residency program that will provide free housing and studio space for six to ten participants each year.

Cultural and community space will be a focal point for the site’s 30,000 square feet of amenities, including a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces that will offer room for theater and performances, exhibitions, and ground floor co-working. The complex will also have a restaurant and a rooftop bar, and co-living members will have exclusive access to additional perks, like a gym and garden terrace.

The buildings in the complex, which would be the Collective’s second-largest location in the U.S., will be connected by “an expansive ground-floor hub” that will link Halsey and Fulton streets, allowing visitors to walk through the light-filled space that opens to an interior courtyard that will be open to the public.

A digital rendering shows a bright, airy common area with tables, chairs, and couches.
An interior rendering of the co-living project.
The Collective

The original Slave Theater, which Judge John Phillipps opened in 1984, became an epicenter of neighborhood activism; Rev. Al Sharpton regularly held rallies there in the 1980s. The theater closed in 1998, but after Phillipps died in 2008, the building became the center of a legal battle with allegations of elder abuse, back taxes, and politically-motivated revenge.

The building changed hands over the years until it was demolished in 2017, despite local efforts to stave off redevelopment and landmark the theater. After purchasing the parcel earlier this year, the Collective revealed plans in March for a co-living space on the site.

The Collective has been busy snapping up property across the city and recently unveiled plans to convert The Paper Factory Hotel in Long Island City into a short-stay co-living space, and to construct another co-living building close to the Broadway Triangle.

For the Slave Theater site, the Collective says it has begun outreach to Brooklyn Community Board 3 and that it aims to continue talks with the community throughout the development process to ensure the company is “honoring The Slave Theater’s legacy in response to hyperlocal input,” the firm says.

“We are deeply involved in each stage of the development process—dedicated to and accountable for what we deliver,” the firm said in a statement. “We are long-term operators of our projects and will be a part of the Bedford-Stuyvesant community for decades to come.”

Ismael Leyva Architects, which worked on Hudson Yards, is serving as the project’s architect of record. Compeletion is expected by 2022.