London Co-Living Firm Buys Slave Theater for $32.5 Million, Plans ‘Cultural Programming’

The Slave Theater in 2015. Photo by Edrei Rodriguez

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The former site of the iconic Slave Theater in Bed Stuy has been sold again and its new owners intend to transform it into a mix of apartments, hotel, restaurant and community space.

Comprised of three lots, located at 1215 Fulton Street, 10 Halsey Street, and 16 Halsey Street, it was purchased for $32.5 million by London-based co-living firm The Collective along with New York developer Tower Holdings Group, the companies announced Friday.

“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 provided to Brownstoner. “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 new owners said they hope to open the complex in early 2022. The large and awkwardly shaped site has a variety of zoning and little street-facing frontage.

“This project is zoned for both residential and commercial use, which enables us to offer both long-stay and short-stay co-living,” said Samantha Garfield, U.S. Communications and Growth Lead, in an email. “What we deliver at 1215 Fulton Street will certainly contain a restaurant, as quality food is of the utmost importance to us in all our projects.”

The project may contain co-working space, although plans are still under development, she added.

The site in March 2017. Photo by Seán Devlin

“The team is already, and will continue over the coming months, to explore a number of approaches for honoring and memorializing the history of the Slave Theater, including a deeply connected and culture-driven approach to programming. What we deliver at 1215 Fulton Street will include a number of other programmatic elements that will be available both to members and the public — all designed to be inclusive, inspiring and of value to the surrounding community and its key stakeholders,” Reza Merchant, founder and CEO of The Collective, said in an email.

Elsewhere in Brooklyn, the Collective is developing a co-living space at 555 Broadway on three parking lots at the intersection of Broadway and Lorimer in Bushwick. In London, the company operates a co-living and co-working space as well as “pilot initiatives to provide accommodation for homeless people,” according to the company.

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

brooklyn development slave theater

Rendering by Morris Adjmi Architects via New York Yimby

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 filing demolition permits 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.

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

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

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