CBGB Can’t Be Evicted

A Manhattan civil court ruled August 10th that New York City’s legendary CBGB nightclub does not have to pay $58,000 in back rent to its landlord, and cannot be evicted from its Bowery location.

CBGB’s future is still uncertain, however, as its lease with the Bowery Residents’ Committee, a nonprofit group that aids homeless people, expires August 31st. A renewal remains up in the air.

“We still don’t have a new lease, so it’s not over,” CBGB spokesman Scott Goodstein told Pollstar. “But we’re pleased with the judge’s ruling.”

The dispute involved $91,000 in rent hikes that the club said it did not pay over four years because of a bookkeeping mix-up. CBGB said it wasn’t billed for the extra rent, but BRC director Muzzy Rosenblatt said the increases were clearly stated in the lease.

“All we’re looking for is a responsible tenant,” Rosenblatt said.

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 it opened in 1973.

Goodstein said Rosenblatt plans to appeal the judge’s decision.

“It’s sad that he does not seem willing at this point to cooperate and come up with a minimal increase that we’ve agreed to,” Goodstein said. “We hope now that the court ruling is over, [Rosenblatt] will resolve the matter. But unfortunately, with his statement today, we don’t know where the battle takes us.”

CBGB currently pays $19,000 a month in rent. The committee wants to double that amount – an increase the club cannot afford.

Meanwhile, supporters of CBGB are planning a last-ditch effort to save the space. Longtime Bruce Springsteen guitarist and “The Sopranos” actor Steven Van Zandt has been leading a pack of celebrities who are fighting to keep the venue open.

The punk club will hold a month-long campaign of benefit concerts to help pay the bills. The effort will conclude with a free show set for August 31st at NYC’s Washington Square Park. No acts were confirmed at press time.

“We’re going to do everything we can to fight to keep our doors open,” Goodstein said.

Mitchell Peters