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CBGB to become men’s clothing store

CBGB Just over a year after pioneer punk rock club, CBGB & OMFUG, permanently closed its doors after an arduous court battle and a slew of farewell performances by punk originals (ending with a heart-felt Halloween show by Patti Smith), it is now being reported that The Bowery Residents’ Committee has finally settled on a new tenant. Fashion designer, John Varvatos, has leased the Bowery landmark with intent to convert it into a menswear clothing boutique in March of 2008.

Varvatos seemed to hold a special sentiment for what many consider to be the birthplace of punk rock, as he recalled seeing seminal punk band, The Ramones, at CBGB in its heyday of the 1970s. He has said that he plans to keep the overall ambience of the club alive, including plans for a stage to be utilized for in-store performances. The designer has remarked of his vision, “This store is going to be totally unique, different from our other boutiques. We’re going to make it a great way to look back at this remarkable history but also forward to what’s happening in music today.”

However, many are still skeptical about the integrity of this changing of the guards, feeling it symbolizes the perpetuation of the gentrification overtaking Manhattan ’s Bowery district. Another popular area nightclub, Continental, shut down last year and was resurrected months later as a sports bar. Bill Popp, who performed at CBGB from 1981 until its doors closed expressed his growing trepidation saying, “Now it’s going to become a contrived type of store, with prices only for the yuppies who are taking over the neighborhood.”

These apprehensions could be seen as quite reasonable, as John Varvatos’s designs can currently be found in various high-end retailers, such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fith Avenue, Barneys and several of the company’s own international boutiques.

This news marks the end of various rumors regarding the fate of the veritable rock and roll mecca and comes on the heels of the club’s original founder Hilly Kristal, succumbing to lung cancer in August at the age of 75. Kristal had been in talks to relocate CBGB to Las Vegas just before his death.