The 21-story mixed-use tower that will serve as the permanent home for the National Black Theatre (NBT) has topped out. Located at 2033 Fifth Avenue and dubbed Ray Harlem, the building will also welcome 222 mixed-income apartments to the neighborhood in addition to the 27,000-square-foot home for National Black Theatre, the longest running Black theater in New York City, founded in 1968 by the late visionary artist Dr. Barbara Ann Teer.
Designed by collaborating architects Frida Escobedo Architects and Handel Architects, the project includes offices, classrooms, a 250-seat immersive technology performance space, a 99-seat flexible studio theater, and a set-building shop to support workforce development in theatrical trades. There will also be a multi-purpose communal living room open to the community as part of the building’s commercial space along 125th Street.
“As the first revenue generating Black arts complex in the country and the oldest, continually run Black Theater in New York City, this project represents a dream come true and a vision realized,” said NBT Chief Executive Officer Sade Lythcott.
Construction began on Ray Harlem and NBT in July 2022 and the building is scheduled to open in late 2024, with the theater coming online in early 2026. LMXD, the mixed-income development affiliate of L+M Development Partners LLC, is behind development and Ray— a newly-launched network of thoughtfully designed residential spaces at the intersection of art and culture, community, and accessible pricing— is NBT’s partner for the project.