(CelebrityAccess News Service) — New York University's John Beckman wants people to know the other side of the NYU-Bottom Line controversy. CelebrityAccess presents his note in its entirety:
Dear Bottom Line Supporter,
I think it goes without saying that anyone who would take the time to visit
the Save The Bottom Line Web site to sign a petition is clearly a big fan of
the club and has pretty strong feelings about the situation. But I thought
you might be interested in hearing the other side of the story, so I'm
taking this opportunity to present NYU's perspective to ensure that everyone
is fully informed. I have tried to post this response to the Save The Bottom
Line Web site forum a couple of times this week, but thus far, it seems that
the site's moderator has not seen fit to approve it, thus my direct response
to each of you.
We would all like to see The Bottom Line remain open; that includes NYU. It
is a place of cultural value, and for that reason the University has shown a
lot of patience and urged the club on countless occasions to get its act
together. But it is a sad case: The Bottom Line seems to fritter away every
opportunity to help itself.
The Bottom Line has a rent that is at least 50% below market and is less than half as much as any other University tenant. It started going into
arrears in 2000 (a long time before 9/11, by the way). Despite our urging The Bottom Line to resolve this issue on many occasions, they never did so.
At this point, they have accumulated a rent arrearage of over $185,000, equivalent to nearly a year-and-a-half's back rent, even at their steeply
discounted rental rate. It is a not a question of whether they owe this
money — they have publicly said so to the newspapers — it is simply a
matter of whether they will pay it.
The court case is not an eviction proceeding; it is a non-payment of rent
proceeding, and if they paid off the arrearage, the case would be done with.
We have said this privately, and we have said this in open court. Even after
the patience we have shown and in spite of all of their disappointing record
of being unresponsive, we granted them two court extensions, one in August
and another in September — some 60 days, in all.
The events at the September 24 court date gave us some hope. At that court
date, we had private discussions in the hallway. The Bottom Line said they
had backers; they asked us for another extension, and as part of the
agreement to give them another court extension they proposed a 10-year
lease that included, among other items: market-rate rent, which their
attorney said was $65/sq ft; conduct renovations that their attorney
estimated at $1.5 million (during the course of which we offered three
months free rent); paying off the rent arrearage upon signing of the lease;
a probationary period of one year; "good guy" clauses (a real estate thing);
and the furnishing of a business plan. Let me repeat – this was The Bottom
Line's proposal. This was the most constructive conversation we had had
with The Bottom Line, so we agreed to the extension.
In spite of the Jewish holidays, NYU presented The Bottom Line (based
precisely on terms they proposed to us) within 10 days. We were hopeful
that we might have a good outcome; I'd like to think everyone was.
However, they never signed the lease. In fact, they never got back in touch
with us – never called us, never sought to negotiate. And that's how we
came to be back in court on October 23.
The essence of bad faith is saying something you never mean to live up to,
and that's what The Bottom Line appears to have done here. I have heard
their lawyer say that he's merely trying to "buy time." Given how they have
behaved – saying one thing to us face-to-face in private, then refuting it
in public – there would be plenty of cause for anger, but what we really
feel is sorrow that The Bottom Line has missed another chance to help
For the University, the overall problem with this set of circumstances is
that it forces a not-for-profit educational institution into the position of
subsidizing a for-profit entertainment business; this just turns the world
on its head. It's not proper.
No one has given The Bottom Line more of a break than NYU. The University
has shown The Bottom Line every consideration and lived up to every
commitment it has made; The Bottom Line has done just the reverse. That's
the sad truth.
We're all waiting for the judge's decision at this point. But The Bottom
Line could solve the whole court case now simply by paying the back rent,
and then can ensure their tenancy simply by signing the lease we sent them
based on their set of proposals. We have not withdrawn the lease – it's
still out there for them to sign.
I understand that the people signing the petition would like The Bottom Line
to stay open – we all hope it works out well. I hope everyone will
appreciate hearing the other side of the story.
John Beckman, NYU
–Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen