The Apollo Theater in Harlem, Manhattan The Apollo Theater in Harlem, Manhattan

NEW YORK CITY—The Apollo Theater located in Harlem has begun renovating the historic music hall. The initial phase in creating the Apollo Performing Arts Center will be the construction of two new theaters within the Victoria Theater redevelopment project located at 233 W. 125th St. The facilities will also house office space for the Classical Theatre of Harlem, Harlem Arts Alliance, and Jazzmobile. Empire State Development selected these three cultural organizations to enhance Apollo’s advocacy for African-American, African diasporic and Harlem-based artists and culture.

The renovations will allow the non-profit Apollo Theater to increase its programming, including educational and community content. It will also develop a theater rental subsidy program for non-profits.

Theater rendering at the Apollo Rendering of one of the theaters to be constructed in the Victoria Theater/ Image provided by the Apollo Theater

Scheduled to open in the fall of 2020, the two new theaters will be the first physical expansion of the Apollo in its 85-year history. Although the organization declined to provide a construction cost estimate, a spokesperson tells that the multi-million dollar initiative is being managed by Exact Capital and is an ongoing project.

The Apollo states the full redevelopment will include residential units, retail, and a hotel, along with the new theaters.

“The Apollo Theater is reaffirming its deep responsibility to our community and to the emerging and world-class artists with whom we work while, simultaneously, creating ways to offer even greater opportunities to artists, audiences, students, and the community and safeguarding the spirit and cultural character of Harlem,” says Apollo Theater president and CEO Jonelle Procope. She also comments that the project works towards “shepherding in the next generation of the creative workforce of color.”

Apollo Theater rendering of lobby and box office Rendering of the lobby and box office to be constructed at the Apollo Performing Arts Center/ Image provided by the Apollo Theater

The Apollo Theater will serve as the operator and manager for the theaters located within the Victoria Theater redevelopment. It will manage two new, state-of-the-art, flexible performance venues, one with 99 seats and the other with 199 seats, as well as office space. Separate developers will manage the commercial aspects of the building. The Victoria Theater redevelopment project is a public/private partnership that is part of the State of New York’s revitalization of 125th Street.

Apollo’s 25,000-square-foot facility, designed by Kostow Greenwood Architects, will be located on the third and fourth floors of the building.

“The Apollo is the soul of American culture, and the Apollo Performing Arts Center will allow us to share that culture with an even wider audience, not only with the Apollo’s own productions, but with other cultural institutions that will help us create and develop the kinds of resources that serve the creative community and audiences around the corner and around the world,” says Apollo Theater executive producer Kamilah Forbes. “This expansion will allow the Apollo to look to the future while protecting the heritage that makes Harlem such an indispensable part of New York City and the world.” 

Gifts and grants from public and private funders are paying for the construction. This includes the Booth Ferris Foundation, Empire State Development, the Harlem Community Development Corporation, The New York Community Trust – LuEsther T. Mertz Advised Fund and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone.