Friday, January 11, 2008
Long Live The "Renny"
The grand opening of the of the Renaissance Theater on one hundred and thirty seventh street occurred 86 years ago this week. In a bittersweet decision, the hallowed hall was denied historic protection by the landmarks Commission last year.The Abyssinian Development Corp, with the help of some influential supporters, successfully argued against a landmark designation for a historic ballroom in central Harlem.The 6-1 vote by the Landmarks Commission clears the way for the redevelopment of the Renaissance Ballroom and Renaissance Casino on Adam Clayton Boulevard and 138th Street. Plans call for the majority of the historic structure to be razed and replaced with a 19-story condo tower as well as cultural, retail and community spaces.
The Municipal Arts Society The New York Landmarks Conservancy, and the Historic Districts Council joined prominent Harlem residents including former Mayor Dinkins to oppose landmark designation, arguing that such a designation would have created insurmountable obstacles to bringing ballroom and the cultural space back to life. Abyssinian hopes the development will be completed by 2009. Still, some residents remain concerned with the loss of the historic structures and argue that a whole-scale renovation of the structure would be more beneficial to the community.
A beautifully illustrated and exhaustive history of the site along with a host of invaluable knowledge about the neighborhood in general can be found at
http://blackfivesblog.com/?p=285 thanks to the tireless efforts of BlackFives founder Claude Johnson.