Monday, March 07, 2005

CBGB Not Going to Pay Rent

According to the New York Times, CBGB is having a problem with a charity group:

In a scrappy Bowery real-estate battle, CBGB has been in and out of court for much of the last four years with its landlord, the Bowery Residents' Committee, a nonprofit organization that helps the homeless. The dispute concerns enough unpaid rent to finance dozens of punk bands as well as numerous building violations that leave a paper trail as thick as the layers of fliers stapled to the club's walls.

In an arrangement known to few of the club's patrons, CBGB subleases its spaces at 313 and 315 Bowery from the organization, which shelters 175 homeless people in the floors above the club. In 2001, the organization began efforts to collect more than $300,000 in back rent from the club. Although much of that has now been paid, the club faces eviction over remaining debts of about $75,000, both parties say.

Both organizations have dug in their heels and claim a moral right to the property.

"We're an institution," said Hilly Kristal, the grandfatherly 73-year-old who started CBGB - with plans to stage "country, bluegrass and blues," not punk - in late 1973. "I think we're an important part of this community. The city uses us in their Olympics ad, along with the Statue of Liberty."

In the opposite corner is Muzzy Rosenblatt, the executive director of the Bowery Residents' Committee, who resents diverting the organization's money to legal expenses to get what he says is due from an uncooperative tenant.

"I am not going to subsidize CBGB at the expense of homeless people," Mr. Rosenblatt said.
I think the city's using CBGB in their Olympics ad shows that it is no longer relevant. Losing the old club would probably be good for music in New York because it's been a long time since it has been anything but a glorified House of Blues. And why should they get out of paying rent just because they are an "institution"? I say that's all the more reason they should pay their rent. After all, shouldn't an institution be able to cover its expenses? It has so many advantages over other clubs, they must be mismanaging the place if they can't meet their rent. And if people aren't coming to the bar often enough, it sounds like there isn't enough demand for it to stay open, so what's the big deal? If I sound bitter, it's because I bought a bottle of Dos Equis there about seven years ago for $6.

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