UMEZ Provides a $10 Million Loan to Transform Harlem’s Legendary Victoria Theater

Date:    Tuesday, August 4, 2015

New York, New York - Kenneth J. Knuckles, President and CEO of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation (UMEZ) announced that developers closed on a $10 million loan to finance the redevelopment of the decommissioned Victoria Theater. The UMEZ loan was part of an overall financing structure consisting of a private sector loan, state grants, tax credits, developer equity and other funding sources. The Victoria Tower will replace the legendary theater, neighboring the Apollo Theater on 125th Street.

The development is expected to create significant benefits for Upper Manhattan, including the creation of approximately 575 construction jobs and 373 full-time positions. The project will have a significant impact on unemployment in the area, since many of the permanent positions are introductory jobs that will enable local residents to enter the workforce. An additional benefit of the project is the creation of 95 affordable housing residential rental units.

The $164 million project is led by experienced developers Lam Group and Exact Capital, along with Harlem-based developer Danforth Development Partners. The Tower will stand at 27 stories tall, with 25,000 square feet of prime retail commercial space along the 125th Street corridor, 27,000 square feet of cultural programming space, a 90 car parking garage and an approximately 200 room Renaissance Hotel by Marriott. The project will provide Harlem’s first full service hotel in 80 years. Developers anticipate the Victoria Tower to become yet another Harlem destination to spur national and international tourism.  

“Since closing its doors in 1989, many redevelopment plans for the iconic, historic theater have been proposed, but none have come this close to fruition,” noted Mr. Knuckles. “The adaptive reuse of the Victoria Theater establishes a new cultural legacy for the Upper Manhattan community. UMEZ is proud to support a project that reinforces the cultural and economic vitality of Harlem’s Main Street.”

The Victoria Tower is scheduled to begin construction in 2015.


Since its founding in 1996, The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ) has been a singular catalyst in the revitalization of Upper Manhattan. UMEZ’s investments, upwards of $225 million to date, have provided funding to numerous organizations, businesses and institutions that drive the local economy, create jobs, and add to the vibrancy of New York City. Significantly, these funds have also been leveraged to generate over $1 billion in private capital investments into Upper Manhattan. UMEZ continues to be a leader in reestablishing the area as one of New York’s most dynamic cultural districts through the creation of the Cultural Industry Investment Fund, established in 2004.