A civil court judge ruled yesterday (Aug. 10) that the landmark New York rock club CBGB can’t be evicted from its Bowery location, saying it shouldn’t be punished for not noticing it owed its landlord money. The ruling was a victory for the club where groups like the Ramones and Blondie defined the punk scene in the 1970s, but CBGB’s future is still uncertain.
Its lease with the Bowery Residents’ Committee expires on August 31, and a renewal remains up in the air. The executive director of the Bowery Residents’ Committee, Muzzy Rosenblatt, said he had not seen the ruling so he could not comment on it.
“All we’re looking for is a responsible tenant,” he said of his group, which provides shelter for homeless people in the building that houses the club.
The dispute involved about $100,000 in rent increases, interest and fees. The club says the increases went unpaid for four years because of a bookkeeping mix-up. CBGB said it wasn’t billed for the increases, but Rosenblatt said the increases were clearly stated in the lease. CBGB’s rent is $19,000 a month.
In her ruling, Judge Joan Kenney praised the club’s impact on the neighborhood, which she said was plagued by “destitution, degradation and substance abuse” when CBGB opened in 1973.
“CBGB has proven itself worthy of being recognized as a landmark — a rare achievement for any commercial tenant in the ever diverse and competitive real estate market of New York City,” she wrote in the ruling, a copy of which was provided to the Associated Press by the Save CBGB’s Coalition.
“It would be unconscionable for this court to allow petitioner to proceed with its intent to evict CBGB … because it failed to notice that monies were outstanding for approximately four years,” the judge wrote.
As part of its proposal for a new lease, CBGB has said it would find a third-party guarantor and would raise money for the committee every year with benefit concerts. As previously reported, a month-long series of benefit shows is already underway at the venue.
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