The Yippie! Museum avoided a quick and bitter end yesterday and won more time in its dramatic fight against foreclosure.
The yippies’ legal battle to maintain their three-story building at 9 Bleecker Street, with its unpaid $1.4 million mortgage, has dragged on since 2009 when Centech LLC, their lender, filed a complaint to obtain a judgement for foreclosure and sale on the premises. Yesterday at New York State Supreme Court, Noah Potter, a lawyer for imprisoned yippie leader Dana Beal, won an extension to gather more information. “I have a month and a half to get documents to plead Dana’s case,” Potter told B+B.
For 40 years, left-wing radicals have lived in the NoHo building and rallied for causes like legalizing marijuana. (The first-floor Yippie! Café, run by Harmony Kitchen, appears to have relocated and is not named in the action.) In 2009, when Centech brought the case, the now 66-year-old Beal, who has lived at the building since the early 1970s, was arrested in Nebraska for carrying 150 pounds of marijuana in a van and again in Wisconsin in 2011 on a similar charge. Potter admitted to B+B that Beal’s imprisonment had made securing financing for the building “more difficult.”
“This is not a normal foreclosure,” said Potter. “This is a transaction to preserve Dana’s home and the heritage of the building so that it can be a viable commercial [space] that will allow all the political organizing to continue.”
Steven L. Einig, an attorney for the lender plaintiff in the case, filed for a summary judgment last month to foreclose on the building but agreed during the conference to grant Potter more time to prepare. Both sides are expected back in court for oral arguments in January.
Beale, an entity named Yippie Holdings LLC and the National AIDS Brigade are among the defendants named by the plaintiffs. They assumed ownership of the building and its debts in 2004. Einig told B+B that the defendants had not made a single rent payment in five years and acknowledged that the $1.4 million mortgage has since ballooned to an estimated $3.5 million, a figure he said “changes every day as interest accrues.”
Asked to respond, attorney John Diffley, who represents Yippie Holdings LLC, claimed “the plaintiff” in 2007 stopped accepting payments because of an alleged scheme “to take back the building.” Diffley declined to state the amount of the rent payments “for ethical reasons.”
Only a few supporters of the yippie stronghold sat in the courtroom outside the compliance conference, one of them a dapper middle-aged man in a business suit named Ron Sala.“It would be a terrible thing if [the building] went the way of CBGBs,” said Sala, a minister who said he traveled from Stamford, Connecticut to lend his “moral support” for the defendants. ”It would be a loss to the city.”
Sala said he had participated in Yippie-led May Day “pot parades” organized at 9 Bleecker Street, referring to the Global Million March for Marijuana that Beal helped organize, and said that U.S. concerts for “Rock Against Racism” grew out of the building with Beal’s help. For further information on Beal, check Free Dana Beal on Facebook.