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The Brooklyn Lyceum may be embroiled in a legal fight that could spell its doom, but that is not stopping owner Eric Richmond from trying to entice new tenants

Send in the freelancers: Gowanus arts space rents to laptop-wielders despite foreclosure threat

The Brooklyn Paper
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An embattled performance venue on the border of Gowanus and Park Slope is expanding its programming and trying to entice freelancers to rent out space even as its owner is mired in legal problems and the building faces a foreclosure auction.

Brooklyn Lyceum proprietor Eric Richmond said that the land-marked venue that sits on a prime development site on Fourth Avenue will remain open despite the ongoing court battle that could soon cost him the building, a former public bathhouse.

Richmond is wrapped up in a five-years-and-counting court battle with his former architect Jeane Miele, who he owes $5-million on a loan of between $500,000 and $2-million. Richmond declared bankruptcy to stave off foreclosure on the 19-year-old arts space and the L-shaped lot next door, but Miele has asked a court to waive the poverty claim so that the properties can be sold at auction. A hearing could decide the place’s fate as soon as next month, but Richmond is confident he will prevail — so confident he is trying to move in new tenants.

Starting this week, freelancers hungry for a place to park their laptops can take advantage of table space, internet, and all the coffee they can drink, all for just $10 per day, Richmond said.

The Lyceum was originally supposed to open its so-called “co-working space” on Nov. 4, but Richmond said he needed to fix up the heating system before opening the doors to daytime roommates.

But Miele is unperturbed. To say that Richmond’s friend-turned-foreclosure-foe is optimistic about his chances of winning before a judge would be an understatement.

“It’s about 95 to five that we’ll win against Richmond, and when that happens there will be a sale scheduled and it will be sold out from under him,” Miele said.

Despite the dire prediction, the space will host its annual production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” from Dec. 12 to 22, Richmond promised.

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at jlutz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.
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Reader Feedback

Eric Richmond from where the swamp meets the slope says:
As usual, not much research in a "The Brooklyn Paper" article. At least when Gersh was in charge there were snappy headlines even if there wasn't any research.

The Lyceum is embroiled in a decade long legal tussle over real estate with a local developer who is, in my opinion, a bit shady. A dozen developers have come and gone who have sought a resolution to the dispute between myself, Jean Miele, Union Street Tower, LLC and Donald LaRosa that would allow for development of the properties. But when they actually dig into the details of Jean Miele's 95-5 odds the deals dissipate.

While the Lyceum is changing how it does things to reflect a changing neighborhood(higher caliber theater, more children's events, more athletic activities, markets, conventions), we are having talks with possible partners for the theater building itself and developers to work with us on the Lyceum and the adjacent lot when the dust settles. The legal concepts involved are uncommon but not complicated and apparently not worth the time of this paper to research.

The Co-Work that is purportedly the basis for the article but seems to be just a ruse to slop a headline together was just a bit player in the article. The Co-Work concept will be a core part of the Lyceum's mission in addition to becoming more of an arts space for the region. A theater building is less busy by day and Co-Work is a great way to make use of it then in a neighborhood full of indie/creative types.

As for that legal tussle…we, the Lyceum, will continue to press the issues until a judge actually addresses the issues at hand. In for a penny, in for a pound. The original architect (Raymond Francis Almirall) of Public Bath #7 (aka the Brooklyn Lyceum), Emigrant Savings Bank, Seaview Hospital, Pacific Street Library Branch and who also worked on the Palace at Versailles, fought Tammany Hall and Robert Moses and lost his career. I hope we fare better.

If anyone wishes to learn any more they can email me at brooklynlyceum@gmail.com to comment and/or make an appointment to talk.

Eric Richmond
Brooklyn Lyceum
Nov. 19, 2013, 11:40 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Hi Eric, the name's John Wasserman. Are you aware that there are many Brooklynites that don't have access to computers/email/television? Some of them don't even have bicycles, if you don't mind my saying so. I hope you'll pardon me when I ask that it be done here, in the comment section of the Brooklyn Paper?
Thanks for reading.
John Wasserman
Nov. 19, 2013, 6:48 pm
Jim from Gowanus says:
I've lived in the neighborhood since 1992 and attended some great events in the space. All the while hoping the revenue from some of these events would go into fixing up the building (money pit). I've seen very little improvement, but I'm sure some has take place. The tarp on the roof is an eyesore as is the whole outside of the building. It's painfully obvious to me that Eric is under-capitalized, hence all the fiscal issues.

Furthermore, I'm not sure $10/day all you can drink coffee Co-Work space is a sustainable business model. I do hope legal issues get solved sooner rather than later and the place gets the capital in needs for a real renovation and a new life, whatever that may be.
Nov. 21, 2013, 8:56 am
Spellcheck says:
"*Erich* Richmond"? Can y'all spell?
Nov. 21, 2013, 9:43 am
Eric Richmond from where the swamp meets the slope says:
Jim,

Money pit it is. The buildings financial issues clearly won't be solved by just Co-Work. It was never presented that way to the reporter. It is just a good time for it to pop up. It has been a long layoff as we retooled our process away from mostly theater to some theater and more events.

Pretty sad that they think Co-Work is what the building is banking on when they couldn't even list the well attended pay per view wrestling event over the past weekend as can be seen on our facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/brooklynlyceum. Sigh.

Eric
Nov. 21, 2013, 7:56 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Eric,
How would you compare to the wrestling events of today to, say, the wrestling of the days of Jimmy "Superfly" Snooka and such? Pardon my asking. It seems to me that the olden days of wrestling were a lot more classic, but it could be just me being stuck in the days of yesteryear.
Nov. 22, 2013, 12:12 pm

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