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A Classics ending 

On the hook for more than $100,000 in rent charges, established nightclub closes

click to enlarge Classics booking agent, Todd Jones, in front of the - locked-down club. - NAOMI ZEVELOFF
  • Naomi Zeveloff
  • Classics booking agent, Todd Jones, in front of the locked-down club.

Now that Classics has closed, in the words of former business manager Sean Becker, it leaves the city's wanting nightclub scene even more wanting.

On July 13, property owner Carolyn Jenkins evicted the business that had bumbled along financially for the past year, missing several months' worth of rent payments.

The all-ages hardcore club at 5943 Delmonico Drive was widely considered one of the top three live music venues in Colorado Springs. Without it, the area's screamo, death metal and hardcore bands, and their hundreds of fans, must rebound in a city with few other options.

"The music scene is on pause," says Todd Jones, who, with his girlfriend Heather Williams, booked bands at Classics for the past year.

Jones, whose local production company is called Stick It To Ya Entertainment, says the bar shut down with little warning, leaving him with 2 months of scheduled concerts to move to area venues like The Black Sheep and Union Station. He has had to cancel 15 shows since the Sheriff's Office locked Classics' doors with his music equipment inside.

This Thursday, business owner Lester Becker and his son Sean Becker, will meet with property manager Nor'Wood Development to negotiate a removal of Jones' and others' belongings from the interior of Classics. Jenkins' agent at Nor'Wood declined to comment for this story.

Jones credits his business for attracting sizable crowds to Classics in the last few months that it was open. On a good night, the bar would bring in 250 people to see a five-band set, charging $10 at the door. Often, newer bands would get their start there; Jones invited unsigned acts to play without sending in a demo CD.

"We were rocking this town hard," Jones says. "We were the metal bar in town."

But Sean Becker says it simply was not enough to keep Classics afloat. The financial troubles began last June, when the business first missed a rent payment of $4,100. Becker says that layoffs at Rockrimmon Boulevard's Hewlett-Packard plant last summer killed off his happy-hour crowd. The COSMIX closure of the southbound I-25 exit to Rockrimmon, he adds, made the strip mall where the nightclub was nearly inaccessible.

"It was a dead center," he says.

When the Beckers bought Classics in March 2003, they agreed to a rigid lease that increased their rent by a couple hundred dollars every six months. When the Beckers took over, they paid $3,700 per month. By the time Classics closed, their rent had gone up $600, to $4,300 per month. Because the Beckers initially envisioned a booming nightclub, paying the escalating rent seemed feasible.

But they soon realized that Classics was sinking. They worked to sell the business last spring, but the plan never came to fruition. Becker began pulling in investors, but Classics was evicted just days before he could ensure their support, he says.

Lester Becker owes more than $136,000 to Jenkins in missed rent payments, late fees, and rental costs for the remainder of the lease, which will expire in 2008. He took out a mortgage on his home and may file for bankruptcy.

"I have to take the blame," he says.

naomi@csindy.com

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