Site of former Slave Theater in Bed-Stuy will get a 10-story co-living and hotel building

September 23, 2019

View of the Slave Theater in 2012. Map data ©2012 Google.

London-based communal living company The Collective filed a building permit application last week for a planned development on the site of the former Slave Theater in Bed-Stuy, which the company bought earlier this year for $32.5 million. As Brownstoner first reported, the application is for a 10-story, roughly 161,000-square-foot structure that will comprise residential units, a hotel, and community space. Ismael Leyva Architects will lead the project, which is expected to include 136 apartments, 222 hotel rooms, underground parking, a restaurant, a public courtyard, spa lounges, and other amenities. The finished building is expected to open in 2022.

Once a hub of civil rights activity in Brooklyn, the historic Slave Theater had been shuttered since 1998. Judge John L. Philipps bought the old Regal Theater in 1984 and renamed it “to remind himself and his neighbors of their history,” according to a New York Times article. Philipps filled it with “African-American political art and murals celebrating the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Marcus Garvey” and other notable figures. After Reverend Al Sharpton began holding Wednesday night rallies at the Slave, the activity at the theater contributed to shifting the center of New York’s civil rights movement from Harlem to Brooklyn.

The building became entangled in a murky and dramatic ownership dispute following Philipps’ death. As Brownstoner reported, developer Yosef Ariel bought the building in 2013 for $2.1 million. A year later, Ariel scooped up two adjacent properties at 10 Halsey Street and 16-18 Halsey Street. The sites contain a mix of zoning.

The theatre was demolished in 2017, and the site was on and off the market a few times before The Collective and New York developer Tower Holdings Group bought the three properties earlier this year for $32.5 million.

“We are committed to honoring the rich history of the Slave Theater and the legacy of Judge John L. Philipps,” The Collective said in a statement at the time of the purchase. “We will develop our proposals with open eyes and ears, and a commitment to ensuring a positive impact for the neighborhood and the people living in it.”

The British start-up has opened two co-living destinations in London since 2016 and has ambitious plans in New York. As 6sqft reported last October, the Collective announced plans to open a massive flagship with 500 units at 555 Broadway, on the Williamsburg-Bushwick border. At 350,000 square feet, the space is expected to be the largest of its kind in New York City when it opens in 2022.

While those projects are underway, The Collective will open their first operational location in NYC at the Paper Factory in Long Island City. The hotel will be transformed into a “short-stay” co-living solution where members can “enjoy flexible terms starting from a single night up to a few weeks.”

[Via Brownstoner]


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