At 107 South 6th Street in Williamsburg sits a 19th century Romanesque Revival-style building. Built in 1891, the building was historically known as the Bedford Avenue Theater, and, up until now, was in the works to become a 26-story hotel. But now those plans have been scrapped. Instead, according to The Brooklyn Paper, the building will be converted into a 29-unit residential building.
Though the four-story building has not been landmarked by the city, The Brooklyn Paper writes that it was declared eligible for the National Register in 2019.
The National Register stated:
Distinctive features include the rusticated corner piers, turrets, round and square medallions, and round-arched windows on the upper floor … This is a relatively rare surviving building type.
Rather, the reason the architectural gem has been able to preserve its striking exterior is due to its current zoning.
According to The Brooklyn Paper who analyzed PropertyShark data, the building is “already larger than what would typically be allowed on the site in the mixed commercial residential area,” thus preventing developers from being able to build anything bigger on the site without undergoing a rezoning.
That’s to say the former theater’s original arched windows, turrets, and terra-cotta medallions will all remain untouched and only the building’s interior will be renovated.
The Paper writes that two years after opening the building was renamed the Empire Theater, though it only lasted ten years before closing due to construction of the Williamsburg Bridge, which affected the back of the building.
Over the years it took on many different personas, serving as a garage and repair shop, the headquarters and warehouse of Fruitcrest Corporation, and finally the Soma fitness center, which closed four years ago at the start of 2020.
NYC DOB records show an application was filed in April 2020 to turn the building into a 26-story, 242-unit hotel, though the DOB rejected the proposal.
According to the Paper, an application submitted on December 14 but not yet issued would transform the theater into a 29-unit residential building, featuring an additional 5,444-square-feet-worth of commercial space.