FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 15, 2005
MAYOR BLOOMBERG UNVEILS FIRST PHASE OF COMPLETED RENOVATIONS OF THE APOLLO THEATER IN HARLEM
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today was joined by the Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc. Chairman Dick Parsons and its President & CEO Jonelle Procope to celebrate the completion of the first phase of renovations to the historic Apollo Theater on West 125th Street in Harlem. Phase I renovations are estimated at $24 million; the City's Economic Development Corporation (EDC) administered $11.9 million in City funding for the project, which was provided by Mayor Bloomberg, the Manhattan Borough President and Councilmember Bill Perkins. The entire restoration project is estimated at approximately $65 million and will be completed in mid-2009. Local elected officials and community leaders joined the Mayor for the ceremonial lighting of the new marquee to mark the occasion.
"As we move forward with our plans for improving the economic health of New York City's neighborhoods and communities, it is important that we also preserve and build upon those neighborhoods' unique cultural institutions," said Mayor Bloomberg. "There is no icon more closely associated with Harlem's rich and colorful history than the Apollo Theater. I am pleased that the City is able to support this important restoration effort."
"We are extremely proud to unveil the new face of the historic Apollo Theater project, presented as a progressive symbol of Harlem's new renaissance," said Apollo Theater Foundation President Jonelle Procope. "Accomplished through the hard work and generous support of our donors, the Apollo's newly restored exterior is certain to help guarantee its legacy and secure its future as a cultural mecca and respected community partner,"
Phase I of the restoration project includes a fully refurbished terracotta façade, a stainless steel and glass storefront and a new box office. The new high-tech marquee with programmable LED visuals retains the original marquee's 1940 vintage style and classic features. New sprinkler, HVAC and security systems upgrades have been installed in the theater's interior. Phase II renovations will initially focus on renovations of the lower stage area, rehabilitating the dressing rooms and bringing the stage area into ADA compliance. The auditorium, the administrative offices and theater lobby also will be renovated.
Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLC have been leading the restoration team; Barr & Barr Builders, Inc. is the construction manager; and Jones Lang LaSalle is the project manager. The cost of the Phase I renovations was approximately $24 million with additional support provided by U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, and the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Private sector funding has been received from Time Warner Inc., Citigroup Foundation, Bank of America, News Corporation and Bloomberg LP.
"This exciting restoration is in keeping with the remarkable renaissance taking place in Harlem in the past few years," said Economic Development Corporation President Andrew M. Alper. "It began right here on West 125th Street with Harlem USA and further east with the soon-to-open Potamkin Auto Mall, and continues west with construction starting on the West Harlem Piers project. I am pleased that EDC has played a leading role in all of these important projects."
Built in 1914, the Apollo Theater has been an integral part of Harlem's cultural history since the 1930's when its stage shows featured performers such as Buck & Bubbles, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters and Duke Ellington. The Apollo's Wednesday night "Amateur Nights" launched the careers of greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and James Brown. In the 1950's and 1960's, its stage was graced by Nat "King" Cole, Charlie Parker, Sidney Portier, Ossie Davis, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross. In 1975, the Apollo became a movie theater, and then in l983, it reopened as a performance venue under a firm led by former Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton. Historically, performers have considered the Apollo's sophisticated audiences the most challenging in the country.
The Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc., established in 1991, is dedicated to the preservation and development of the world famous Apollo Theater, a New York City and New York State landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Apollo continues to celebrate and promote the cultural heritage and performance traditions of communities of color, honor the legendary artists who have played the Apollo, and provide a performance platform for future stars. While preserving and building upon the theater's rich history, the Apollo Theater Foundation also serves as a cultural and educational resource for the community and the public at large.
Edward Skyler/Jennifer Falk (212) 788-2958
Michael Sherman/Janel Patterson (Economic Development Corporation)
Dana Baxter (for Apollo Theater) (212) 460-0526
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