Eric S. Page
The 4th & B marquee
Nov. 26 may be the day the music stopped at the longtime downtown music venue 4th & B.
The building that became 4th & B was originally a bank, but since opening its doors in 1994, the music venue hosted more than 3,000 shows, including concerts by Mute Math, Wilco, the Cardigans and the White Stripes.
According to court documents filed this month, though, the current owners, Vincent and Judy Puma of Speth Brothers Inc., filed a petition regarding a Nov. 15, 2012, court judgment in which their lease was forfeited and their rental agreement was canceled. The business was also ordered to pay $125,077.56 in past-due rent and “holdover damages.” However a petition for relief from forfeiture of a lease due to hardship was then filed.
Last Wednesday, on Nov. 26, though, a superior court judge overruled the petition, saying that the “breach of the lease agreement that occasioned this proceeding is not the first time defendants failed to pay their rent” and that “their willingness to now pay what is owed may simply place the landlord in a position to be victimized by another breach in the future.”
Court papers filed on Judy Puma’s behalf state that a check for $74,370.66 was turned over to the attorney representing the site owner, Crown Invest LLC., on Oct. 1.
On Wednesday, attempts to contact anyone at the venue failed to bear fruit. Reached for comment, an attorney representing the Pumas and their organization, Speth Brothers, said they could not comment on the case while it was still ongoing.
Crown Invest LLC.’s legal representative, said they, too, were unable to talk about the case at this time. Christopher Connolly of Connolly Law Office, which is based in San Diego, said his client owns the real estate and that he could not comment because they’re “still in the process” of legal issues.
“I wish I had info about what’s going on – you can imagine how many phone calls I’m getting right now,” said 4th & B’s marketing and promotions manager, Issa Wilson, who mentioned that agents were calling on behalf of their clients regarding upcoming appearances. She said she had had little contact with the Pumas since last week.
Court papers filed in that petition on 4th & B’s behalf claim that the venue employs more than 50 people who may be out of work.
The Pumas bought 4th & B in 2009. The couple lost their home in the 2007 Firestorm and invested the money recouped from that loss into the venue. According to court papers, the couple spent $985,000 plus their 401k savings in order to buy and operate business.
Rumors about 4th & B’s demise were swirling in the music community last week. Asked to address the issue, Vincent Puma had little to say other than that efforts were under way to close down the site but that he had plans to fight them. The following day, however, the venue announced that one of 4th & B’s two big shows in December, with reggae star Barrington Levy, was canceled and would like be rebooked at the World Beat Cultural Center.
It’s not clear what the future holds for next Wednesday’s much-anticipated Public Enemy concert. On Wednesday afternoon, the band still had the event listed on its tour schedule, and Ticketmaster was still selling tickets for the event. An attempt on 4th & B's website to buy tickets, though, yielded a "sales stopped" message?