The new owners of Bed Stuy’s iconic Slave Theater filed permits on Wednesday to demolish the once-vibrant hub of civil rights activism.
Spurred into action at the prospect of demolition, 81-year-old Clarence Hardy — a former caretaker of the space who claims to be its rightful owner — climbed atop the Slave’s marquee on Friday and threatened to jump if the theater wasn’t saved.
— Kate Briquelet (@kbriquelet) December 4, 2015
Hardy stood on the building’s second-story ledge and marquee for roughly two hours before police took him to the 79th precinct for questioning, according to Gothamist.
The theater’s ownership has been murky and contested for years. Both Clarence Hardy and another man, the Rev. Paul Lewis, claimed to have inherited the building in 2008 after its founder, Judge John Phillips, passed away. But Phillips — who had been declared legally incompetent in 2001 and given a court-appointed guardian who misappropriated funds — died without a will.
Clarence Hardy took the ownership dispute to court years ago, but lost his case. Phillips’s nephew, the Rev. Samuel Boykin, remained the legally recognized inheritor.
Boykin sold the Slave and two adjacent sites to real estate developer Yosef Ariel in 2013 and 2014. Just last month, Ariel sold the three properties to Eli Hemway for $18,500,000. On Wednesday, a construction contractor filed permits to demolish the two-story structure.
“These so-called developers transferred the property from a dead man’s name,” said Omar Hardy, Clarence Hardy’s son, in a phone call with Gothamist.”The building has never been for sale. A dead man cannot buy or sell property.”
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