Neighbors not fond of 'Legacy' new biz creates

A music studio is accused of loud parties, disrupting quiet North Riverdale area


When people typically think of businesses on Riverdale Avenue, venues come to mind like restaurants, delis and the occasional medical office.

But a music studio? Which doubles as an event space?

New Legacy Studios. That’s what moved into a vacant North Riverdale storefront in recent months, realizing a dream had by Keyondra Martin and her business partners. Yet, that dream may be a little louder than some of those who live in what is predominantly a residential area at the most northern point of New York City might like.

They want the occasional late-night parties to stop. It’s something that has added to the struggles Martin and the other owners have pushed through in getting their 6048 Riverdale Ave., location up and running.

“We’ve been in the space since September, but we opened in January,” Martin said. “It took us a little while to get started, but we’re open for business now. This is our first actual space.”

Martin hopes the venture will not only create new opportunities in the music industry, but also help serve the larger community in ways everyone can benefit from. That includes not only potential internships for students at nearby schools like the College of Mount Saint Vincent and Manhattan College, and even serve as a site for kids-focused game nights.

And game nights for adults, too. “We were even thinking of hosting bingo here sometime in the near future,” Martin said. “For a lot of the senior residents in the area.”

When they’re not recording new hip-hop music or splicing together music videos, the studio makes extra money by renting its empty square footage as an event space. It’s intended to provide space for everything from conferences, meetings, birthday parties, baby showers and graduation celebrations, among other festivities.

Martin would also like to host “paint and wine events,” similar to a weekend pop-up that can be seen on occasion at the Female Fight Club gym a few blocks away. Events like that bring would-be artists together to express themselves on a canvas while sipping wine.

But to do that, New Legacy will need a temporary license from the state. 

It’s a lot to have on the drawing board, but then again, Martin says this is an ownership team that has never shied away from dreaming big. Although she didn’t give their names, she described the other owners as her husband, brother and a friend.

While they all hail from Morrisania, it was North Riverdale they decided to plant the seeds of their new business.

“Well, we like the area,” Martin said. “It’s quiet and calm. Being that we may have high-profile clients coming in sometimes, we didn’t want an area where people are always outside standing around, and then these artists can’t come in comfortably.”

New Legacy rents space in a building that sold last October for $1.6 million after sitting on the market for a mere three days – nearly doubling its purchase price from the year before.

Martin’s brother, who goes by the moniker Spike Tarantino, is a renowned music director, she said, working with the likes of artists Jim Jones, G Herbo and B-Lovee.

Martin, whose day job is as a transit conductor for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, manages not only artists, but the overall event space as well.

Initially, the extra space was to serve as an area the collective could hold listening parties for newly released albums.

“We thought it would be great to help artists promote their music,” Martin said. “But at the same time, we wanted to do things for the communities, for kids. So, it kind of became multi-use space.”

Despite what seem to be good intentions, some neighbors are not amused, complaining to police about excessive noises coming from the venue.

In some cases, the owners have even been accused of selling drugs and engaging in prostitution. It’s been a distraction, Martin added, to say the least.

“We’ve been dealing with it, with the police,” she said. “I guess the complaints they were getting were becoming more outrageous. At first, they thought it was an underground spot. That’s what the police told us because the business was closed for a while.”

But the reported antagonizing didn’t stop with calls to the police. One merchants group took to social media, accusing New Legacy of hosting illegal after-hours parties next to a church. Yet, not long after, someone from the group reached out to Martin to apologize, she said, before deleting one of the messages.

None of that is true, Martin maintains. If anyone is seeing beautiful women coming in and out of the studio space, it’s because they’re models participating in a video shoot. She also describes one of her partners as a corrections officer, which she says makes the possibility of illegal activities even less likely.

Still Martin prefers to see the best in people, and has chalked it all to confusion.

“I guess people started complaining since they just started seeing people come in and out,” she said. “They may have not been aware (we were) open because we didn’t have any type of signage out yet, just dark tinted windows. Nobody really knew what was going on in here.”

To remedy those misperceptions, Martin added decals to the street-facing windows, which she hopes will be enough until a storefront sign can go up.

But it’s all done little to convince parishioners at nearby St. Margaret of Cortona Church, who have also accused patrons of using their parking lot at night without permission.

One parishioner in particular, Denis Kitson, has warned the church could begin towing unauthorized vehicles at a cost of nearly $500 per car — expenses that would burden the vehicle owners.

Kitson also is worried about the safety of elderly people in the neighborhood — especially those who walk their dogs at night.

“The elderly people who walk their dogs at night have said people have made noises at them as they” pass by, Kitson said. “I’m really concerned about that.”

For New Legacy’s part, Martin says she’s listening to concerns, and addressing them wherever she can. But the rumors — especially those she says has no foundation in truth — isn’t making that easy.

“I want them to know that it’s a space that we welcome the community to,” Martin said. “We really just want to open it up for people in the neighborhood.”