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CBGB’s owner Hilly Kristal, sitting Thursday morning at his usual perch inside the New York club renowned as the birthplace of punk, offered twin observations: He’s got no lease and no intention of quietly surrendering his club. “It’s a fight — a hard fight — and we’re going to keep fighting,” said the bearded 72-year-old patriarch founder of the club where the Ramones and Talking Heads found a home. Kristal, who founded the club in 1973, spoke just a few hours after the club’s lease expired at midnight Wednesday. “We think we have a chance of coming out on top,” he said. Muzzy Rosenblatt, executive director of the building’s landlord — a homeless services agency called the Bowery Residents’ Committee — made the decision not to renew the club’s lease after a contentious five-year battle over the monthly $19,000 rent. Rosenblatt’s group holds a 45-year lease on the building, where the agency houses 250 homeless people above the club. CBGB is its lone commercial tenant. Rosenblatt, who did not return a call for comment Thursday, had earlier issued a statement urging Kristal to “vacate the premises both voluntarily and expeditiously.” But Kristal promised a court battle to keep the club up and running; shows are already scheduled at CBGB’s for the rest of this month. “I feel it’s very important that we stay in this fight,” said Kristal. “A lot of people want this place open.” Attorney Mark Alonso, who represented The Bottom Line in an ultimately losing battle to save the famed Greenwich Village club in a landlord-tenant dispute, said Kristal’s legal fight would only delay the inevitable. “There are lawyers in New York who can buy you nine months,” Alonso said. “But you can’t win without a lease. There is no winning — just stalling.” A compromise, at this point, is about as likely as a Ramones reunion. The two sides haven’t spoken in months, and efforts by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office to mediate the situation were unsuccessful. In his statement, Rosenblatt raised the possibility of eviction proceedings — although Kristal said he had yet to hear from any BRC lawyers. Word that the lease had run out on the 32-year-old punk mecca came during a star-studded “CBGB’s Forever” rally Wednesday in New York’s Washington Square Park. Blondie, Public Enemy and Gavin Rossdale performed, while Little Steven Van Zandt — CBGB’s biggest booster — hosted the event.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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