Landlord moves to evict Tribeca club

By Julie Shapiro

A troublesome club may disappear from Leonard St. by the end of this month.

The landlord of Club Deco told the club last week to be out by March 18, said Joel Bernstein, lawyer for the landlord.

The building’s owner, 349 Broadway Group, had already decided not to renew the club’s lease when it expires June 30. But after the five stabbings inside and outside the club in the early hours of Feb. 28, the owner decided that June wasn’t soon enough, Bernstein told Downtown Express. The landlord has license to set the March 18 deadline because he previously took the club to court for not paying rent, Bernstein said.

If the club does not comply with the March 18 deadline, marshals will arrive within several weeks to forcibly remove the club, Bernstein said.

“If it’s true, it’s wonderful,” said Karen Stamm, who lives near the club, when told of the eviction date.

A club representative could not be reached for comment.

Club Deco, also called Peppers, has drawn ire from residents for years, primarily because of the drunken late-night fights that have brought flying fists and bullets to the otherwise quiet intersection of Leonard St. and Broadway. In the past few weeks, residents have gotten a preview of what their lives will be like once Club Deco leaves, as the club has only been open one night since the stabbings.

“With the Knitting Factory gone and Peppers gone, finally you can have a normal weekend without worrying you might get shot if you go to the deli,” Stamm said.

The landlord has not decided on a new tenant to replace Club Deco. The landlord does not want another problem tenant but is not ruling clubs out altogether, said Bernstein, the lawyer. Bernstein thinks the large open space would make a good dance studio or performance venue.

Last Thursday, about 25 residents attended a meeting City Councilmember Alan Gerson organized about Club Deco. Officers from the First Precinct told the residents they were doing the best they could to quell the violence.

“We try to be there,” Lt. Robert Murray said. “But we are spread thin.”

Four officers were injured on the night of the stabbings, depleting the force, Murray said. The reason the club got so out of control that night was because the club management did not hire enough security, Murray said.

The precinct has spoken to N.Y.P.D.’s civil litigation unit about problems with the club, and officers on the scene issued 12 criminal summonses last month, Murray said.

Residents still have many concerns about the club, but Rick Lee, a community affairs officer with the precinct, struck a positive tone at Gerson’s meeting, saying the club is likely to close soon.

“There is a light at the end of this tunnel,” Lee said.