NEW YORK CITY-Activist Leonora Fulani’s non-profit performing arts organization the All Stars Project Inc. has purchased a 31,000-sf rehearsal and production facility in West 42nd St.’s historic Armory Bldg. for $7.75 million. The organization, in joint venture with an off-off Broadway theater and an urban youth training program, plans to develop the commercial condominium space into a community performing arts center as well as a new national headquarters for All Stars.

The $11.5-million purchase and renovation of the ground floor and basement space at 543 W. 42nd St., scheduled to open in fall 2003, will include seven mixed-use learning, rehearsal and performance spaces totaling 6,500 sf; and two black-box theaters–one seating 99 and the other 110–totaling 9,000 sf. Offices, common areas, scenic and costume shops, and volunteer areas will take up the remaining 15,500 sf. The property, which features 150 feet of 42nd Street frontage, was purchased from Aaron Goodridge. Helmsley-Spear’s Joel Nelson and Jeffrey Tuller brokered the deal.

Partnering with All Stars are the Joseph A. Forgione Development School for Youth and the Castillo Theatre. The design team is led by architects Douglas Balder–an All Stars board member–and Marie-Paule Petitjean.

The redevelopment will be financed in part by $8.25 million in tax-exempt bonds issued by the New York City Industrial Development Agency (IDA) on the All Stars Project’s behalf, authorized last June.

“We’re so gratified that in these difficult and uncertain financial times, so many New Yorkers have stepped forward and given generously to the All Stars Project and supported our move to 42 Street,” says All Stars Project board member and campaign chair, Ronald J. Lissak.

Currently, the facility houses theater, television and music video rehearsal and production space. In the last decade, the two-floor property, located at the bottom of a six-story co-op apartment building, has been the site of the Actors Studio Free Theater and Raw Space. From the 1920s though the early 1960s, it was the Armory of the 77th “Statue of Liberty” Division of the US Army Reserve.

Founded in New York City in 1981 by Fulani Fred Newman and, the All Stars Project’s programs have expanded to Philadelphia, Newark, NJ and Oakland, CA.

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