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Knitting Factory to close Hollywood club

July 17, 2009 |  5:42 pm

KNITTING_FACTORY___ The rock ‘n’ roll continues to disappear from Hollywood Boulevard.

All-ages music venue the Knitting Factory is opting not to renew its lease at its current location and looks to shut its doors this fall, confirms the company’s CEO Morgan Margolis.

Concerts that include shows by metal act A Static Lullaby and Scottish indie rockers Frightened Rabbit are currently booked through mid-October at the venue, but barring last-minute renegotiations the Knitting Factory’s final show will be around Oct. 31, Margolis said. A representative from property manager CIM Group declined to comment, but did confirm that the club’s lease is expiring.

“Our lease is up Oct. 31,” Margolis said. “I’ve opted not to extend it. We’re closing that location, but we are not out of the L.A. market.”

Margolis said he was speaking to Pop & Hiss while inspecting a possible new location. Rumors of the Knitting Factory’s closure have persisted for more than a year. Last summer, neighbors' complaints threatened the club’s conditional use permit, which a venue needs to operate, and subjected the club to zoning hearings. The Knitting Factory was able to make its case to the city, but Margolis said the battle cost him $200,000.

Margolis said he’s been aiming to leave Hollywood since before the struggle to keep his permit began. “I’ve been looking two years now for the right space,” he said. “I’m looking all over -- downtown, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, North Hollywood, Studio City. I’ve looked as far as Alhambra.

“I don’t want the community to think that the Knitting Factory is done in Los Angeles,” Margolis said. ”I’m looking, and have a couple deals on the table. If one of these goes through, there may be a full-on lateral move and no shutdown. It may just be a week or two changeover."

But before anyone gets too optimistic, he adds, "Or it could be a year.”

With the Knitting Factory on target to exit Hollywood Boulevard, it will be the second major music-related operator to disappear from the neighborhood. Earlier this summer, Virgin closed its last remaining Virgin Megastore in Los Angeles, which was a short walk from the Knitting Factory (a Hard Rock Cafe will move in to the Virgin Megastore space).

The Knitting Factory opened its doors at 7201 Hollywood Boulevard in 2000, about a year before the official opening of the outdoor mall at the nearby intersection of Hollywood and Highland boulevards.

At the time of its opening, the Knitting Factory was in a complex that housed a movie theater, the Hollywood Entertainment Museum and a Tower Records outlet. Today, the venue shares space with a drug store, a grocery store, a gym and a shoe outlet.

The venue hosts concerts in three different rooms, and over the years has become known for booking punk, metal and underground hip-hop. The company’s first club was opened in the late ‘80s in Manhattan as a home for avant-jazz. That club has since closed, and a new Knitting Factory is set to open in Brooklyn in late August or early September, Margolis said.

Margolis said the Knitting Factory is in the process of opening a club in Reno, Nev. Knitting Factory venues also currently reside in Spokane, Wash., and Boise, Idaho. In addition to venue ownership, Margolis noted the company is launching a management firm, and its booking agency, Knitting Factory Entertainment, has recently worked tours from Mudvayne, Buckcherry and more.

“It just came to the point where we decided that the amount of money we’re losing in that location as we’re branding nationally didn’t work out for us,” Margolis said.

The Hollywood neighborhood has changed drastically since the Knitting Factory opened its doors. A Madame Tussauds Wax Museum is set to open around the corner from the club -- a tourist-friendly stretch of Hollywood Boulevard that includes a Gap, a Hooter’s, an H&M and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. The streets surrounding the club are routinely closed for film premieres.

"The Hollywood corridor from La Brea to Highland is a nightmare," Margolis concedes. "The numbers have never been good, and the lease is finally up. I may open up a 350-capacity room somewhere and go small."

--Todd Martens

Photo: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times