Jem Realty Sues Tutoring Firm for $1.1M in Arrears at Alhambra Ballroom

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An entity tied to Jem Realty Management has sued medical exam tutor NYCSPrep, claiming it owes $1.1 million in unpaid rent and costs associated with re-leasing its former space in the building that’s also home to the famed Alhambra Ballroom in West Harlem.

Jem Realty, under Simpson West Realty LLC, alleged that NYCSPrep skipped out on two years of rent at its 13,500-square-foot space at 2108-2118 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and finally ditched its lease seven years early in 2020, leaving Jem with $723,689 in brokerage fees and construction costs to re-lease the space to the New York French American Charter School in May 2022.

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A judge previously ruled that NYCSPrep was on the hook for $35,892 in unpaid rent from September 2021 through March 2022. However, Jem claims NYCSPrep’s lease agreement requires it to also pony up the cost of re-letting the space, plus attorneys fees and additional missed rent not covered by the earlier ruling. NYCSPrep has so far paid $8,813 to Jem in missed rent, according to court documents filed Friday.

Jem Realty, NYCSPrep and an attorney for Jem did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

NYCSPrep first leased space at the former vaudeville theater in 2019, but claimed in a 2020 lawsuit that it was unable to open because Jem Realty failed to secure the certificate of occupancy required for NYCSPrep to open the location as a school. Jem Realty argued NYCSPrep’s lease required the landlord to obtain only a certificate of occupancy for office use, and in May a judge sided with the landlord, ordering NYCSPrep to pay up. 

In the lawsuit filed Friday, Jem Realty went after additional cash not covered in the 2020 suit, even though the French American Charter School has been paying rent at the building since June 2022, according to the filing. Luckily for the new tenant, the property scored a temporary certificate of occupancy allowing the third floor to be used for educational purposes in December 2022, according to New York City Department of Buildings records.

Jem Realty has owned the 100-year-old building, once a music venue frequented by jazz legends Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington, since 2014 when it purchased the tower for $21.5 million. The theater closed during the Great Depression, and the Alhambra Ballroom — a popular wedding venue — took it over. Jem Realty moved the ballroom to the top floor after acquiring the property, Commercial Observer reported. 

Celia Young can be reached at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.