Brit Co-Living Startup Taps Hudson Yards Architect for 10 Stories on Bed Stuy’s Slave Theater Site

The site in 2015. Photo by Edrei Rodriguez


Manish Chadha of Ismael Leyva Architects will design London co-living firm The Collective’s combination hotel-apartments-restaurant-community space on the former site of the iconic Slave Theater in Bed Stuy.

A new-building permit application filed Tuesday calls for a 10-story, 161,348-square-foot building with 136 apartments and 222 hotel rooms. There will also be attended underground parking, bike storage, a restaurant, public courtyard, spa, lounges and a variety of other “amenity” spaces inside and out.

The international firm is known for its glassy Manhattan towers and interiors for Hudson Yards, Related Companies and the Time-Warner Center. Brooklyn projects include the 2011 mid-rise rental building Arias at 150 4th Avenue in Gowanus, which was rebranded Instrata following a labor dispute.

“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 in March. “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 building is slated to open in 2022.

The site in 2017. Photo by Seán Devlin

Once a unique hub of Afrocentrism in Bed Stuy, the Slave Theater was eventually demolished in 2017.

Many in the community hoped the iconic theater could be saved. Developer Yosef Ariel, who purchased the three lots in 2012, sold them to developer Eli Hemway of Industrie Capital Partners for $18.5 million in 2015.

After demolition permits were filed at the end of 2015, a former caretaker for the Slave Theater, who claimed to be its rightful owner, climbed atop the theater’s marquee and threatened to jump if the theater wasn’t saved.

The building was demolished in 2017. Last year, the site was once again back on the market, asking $37.95 million. A rendering, part of a zoning and use study by Morris Adjmi Architects, showed two buildings towering over the block.

Reza Merchant and Samantha Garfield of The Collective in May in Brooklyn. Photo by Cate Corcoran

The Collective and New York developer Tower Holdings Group bought the property at 1215 Fulton Street, 10 Halsey Street, and 16 Halsey Street for $32.5 million earlier this year. The large and awkwardly shaped site has a variety of zoning and little street-facing frontage.

The Collective, which has opened two co-living spots with 1,255 rooms in London since 2016 and has ambitious plans to expand internationally, caters to an increasingly mobile and global society, founder and CEO Reza Merchant told Brownstoner earlier this year.

Elsewhere in Brooklyn, The Collective is developing a co-living flagship at 555 Broadway on three parking lots at the intersection of Broadway and Lorimer in Williamsburg. It is also revamping the Paper Factory Hotel in Long Island City.

slave theater

An aerial view of the site in 2018. Image via GoogleMaps

Coworking and co-living are making a noticeable impact on real estate in Brooklyn, where there are a myriad of coworking spaces. Co-living company Common now runs 10 co-living places in Brooklyn.

“We are very focused not just on how people feel in our spaces, but what they might become there,” said Merchant in a prepared statement earlier this year. “We take a huge amount of inspiration from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and believe it is our duty to cater to all levels of the pyramid — starting from essentials like food and shelter, all the way to the top, which is self-actualization.”

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