If it wasn't obvious to Hilly Kristal last week that his landlord was serious about wanting to cut its ties with CBGB, it is now.
Wednesday afternoon — one week after his lease with the nonprofit homeless services organization the Bowery Residents' Committee expired — Kristal was served with an eviction notice to vacate the building where he established the club more than three decades ago. Muzzy Rosenblatt, the BRC's executive director, revealed last week that his organization intends to find a new tenant for the space which has always housed CBGB, considered the birthplace of the American punk movement.
Kristal and the Save CBGB Coalition responded to the eviction notice in a statement issued late last night: "There is no valid reason why CBGB should leave our present historic location. All we want is the same thing [New York Governor George Pataki, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg] and 43 City Council members want — that is to sit down with the BRC and negotiate in good faith a new lease that is fair to all parties."
Seven days after CBGB's lease ran out, Kristal not only refuses to vacate the premises (see "CBGB Owner Says He Won't Leave Property Without A Fight"), he continues to book acts. The Adolescents and the Circle Jerks will take the CBGB stage for two shows this weekend, Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis plays Sunday night and Helmet are scheduled to perform on September 28.
The 76-year-old club owner has vowed to fight the BRC's eviction attempts; during a free concert last week in New York's Washington Square Park, Kristal told the hundreds who'd turned out to support the ongoing effort to rescue the punk haven from closure that he'd "cut the locks" if CBGB were ever shut (see "Public Enemy, Blondie Rally For Naught: CBGB Lease Expires").
Just hours before being served with the notice, Kristal said he was to meet with the Save CBGB collective Wednesday night to discuss the next move in the drive to keep the club alive and in its hometown. Kristal said that he's not interested in trying to preserve CBGB for a few more months — that would be delaying the inevitable. Instead, he's thinking long term, and wants to focus his efforts accordingly. Kristal believes the next step is to work towards resuscitating exhausted lease-renewal negotiations with the BRC or explore alternate spaces that could house the future of CBGB.
In the bid to secure a new lease for the club, Kristal and the Save CBGB Coalition made a proposal to the BRC offering to accept a significant rent increase and provide a substantially larger security deposit. Additionally, Kristal secured two separate third-party guarantors for future rent payments, agreed to contribute $97,500 — the disputed rent arrears that a New York judge ruled Kristal didn't owe the BRC, plus interest — to the BRC upon receiving a new lease, and offered to raise up to $100,000 in additional funds for the nonprofit through annual concert events.
Kristal has also requested a sit-down meeting with Mayor Bloomberg, he said yesterday. Last month, Bloomberg expressed interest in working with both sides on an equitable resolution (see "CBGB's Fate Uncertain As Final Hours Of Lease Tick Away"), calling the venue "a great New York City institution" and "part of our culture."