Berkeley's 924 Gilman Street, the East Bay's epicenter for all things punk rock since the late '80s, is on shaky ground after being hit with a major rent increase.
The Berkeley all-ages club, named after its street address, will see its monthly rent rise from $4,300 to $7,000 on July 1, says Alternative Music Foundation, the volunteer-run nonprofit that operates 924 Gilman.
"The club's rent has been increasing every year for the last 23 years, and up until now we've been able to make the adjustments needed to compensate for those increases," reads a post on the venue's website, www.924gilman.org.
"But what we are facing now is the equivalent of having 20 years of rent increases condensed into one, and once it goes into effect the clock will begin to tick away as we struggle to generate the extra $31,000 a year needed to cover this massive rent hike."
Jim Widess, Gilman's landlord and the owner of the adjacent Caning Shop, says he's a big supporter of the club, but that tough economic times have forced him to raise the rent.
"My business has just dropped horribly," he says. "We talked to a couple of realtors about selling the building, and both said get rid of the tenant. And I said that's really not an option — this tenant is too important to the community."
Gilman, the launchpad for platinum-selling East Bay bands Rancid and Green Day, is seeking donations through its website.
A person donating $25 or more will receive a Gilman T-shirt or tote bag.
Another way to help is to buy a copy of the oral history book, "Gimme Something Better: The Profound, Progressive, and Occasionally Pointless History of Bay Area Punk from Dead Kennedys to Green Day," by Jack Boulware and Silke Tudor (Penguin, 512 pages, $18).
Throughout May, select independent bookstores will donate a percentage of book sales to the club. For a list of participating bookstores, visit www.gimmesomethingbetter.com.
"The club did not approach us," says San Francisco's Boulware of the decision to donate a portion of sales of his book to 924 Gilman Street. "We just heard about the situation and it was more drastic than previous financial straits that the club had been through. So, we just thought, 'What can we do to help?' "
Read Jim Harrington's Concert Blog at http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts/.