The whole thing started to feel untenable and kind of hostile. We felt misled by the landlord, as he had initially expressed an interest in participating in an arts and cultural center, bringing people from his native Nigeria, putting on poetry events, etc. (Mr. Menkiti is a poet.) He neglected to mention that he was not willing to participate financially. We also felt betrayed by the Diesel cafe people, as Alan brought them into the space, yet they weren't willing to work with us in the most rudimentary of ways- in fact they stopped talking to us! Also, the realtor said the place already had a sprinkler system, which it didn't.
At any rate, we got a lease lawyer and got out of the lease. Mr. Menkiti gave us back our whole deposit, but the realtor, Kevin Delaney, still wanted his commission, so we had to pay that (even though Alan got him a tenant, which he hadn't been able to do in three years!) We also had some lawyer's fees. But we were very relieved to get out of there- it just felt really cutthroat. The Somerville Arts Council and Union Square Main Streets were very supportive, but they were powerless against this stuff.
So we are still looking about for an appropriate space, with a landlord who genuinely wants to work with us to make it happen!
Thanks for your patience and support.
Karen and Alan