Gravity gone: Landlord ousts tenant, vows club's return
The on-the-skids Gravity Lounge, which solicited private donations earlier this year to stay afloat, finally foundered today when landlord Ludwig Kuttner changed the locks and took back his prime Downtown Mall property in the Terraces building.
In the end, it was safety matters that closed the club after a fire marshal visit last week. The violations are supposed to be fixed within two days, and when he got a citation today, says Kuttner, "That was the famous straw that broke the camel's back," says Kuttner. "We have other tenants. You just can't do that."
According to Kuttner, Gravity Lounge manager Bill Baldwin hadn't paid rent in more than two years on the club space and an apartment in the building, and owed around $200,000.
"We tried to settle this in January," says Kuttner. "I made plans to run this place more professionally."
And the good news, says Kuttner, is that Gravity will remain a mid-size venue, and the team that's in place to run the nightspot will be unveiled next week.
"I had this vision that this was a great place for young people to hang out," says Kuttner. "Last year, there were over 400 events here. Four hundred! [Baldwin] said, 'I can't make money.'"
Reached by telephone this afternoon, Baldwin declined comment.
Over five and half years, the club–- which opened with a bookstore and cyber-lounge vibe–- morphed into one of Charlottesville's leading live music venues. It has featured such luminaries as Corey Harris, Devon, the Beetnix, and performance artist Stevie Jay. As a small venue, it also attracted some of the stadium-packers from recent history including Richie Havens, Odetta, Marshall Crenshaw, and Dolores O'Riordan. Even politicians such as Ralph Nader and Tom Perriello made speeches there.