Metro council members took steps Tuesday to stabilize and preserve some of Nashville’s most iconic independent live music venues.
The council voted to approve:
Tuesday’s approvals come after several well-known venues have announced they will be forced to move from their widely beloved locations as their leases end and Nashville property values soar.
Metro to study tools to preserve venues
Metro Council approved $260,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for a study aiming to identify strategies to preserve independent live music venues. Outside consultants will study methods used in other cities to assist live music venues as they face increasing development pressure.
The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce will contribute $30,000 to the study, and the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation will contribute $10,000.
The allocation builds on a 2021 resolution to inventory Nashville’s independent music venues in an effort to learn how to best preserve and support them.
Exit/In, a 51-year-old live music venue on Elliston Place, is among those at risk.
Development firm AJ Capital Partners bought the property containing the Exit/In venue and the adjoining Hurry Back Tavern for $6.45 million last year after Exit/In operator Chris Cobb and his wife Telisha Cobb attempted to purchase the Rock Block staple themselves.
AJ Capital Partners has requested a historic landmark designation for the venue, pending Metro Council approval, but Cobb said this will not guarantee the venue’s preservation past ensuring the building will not be demolished. Cobb’s lease expires at the end of the year and will not be renewed, he said.
Mercy Lounge will leave its Cannery Row venue of two decades this May due to the end of its lease. The owners of the trio of beloved concert venues plan to relocate to an unannounced location. Venue 3rd & Lindsley is also in search of a new building due to the ending of its lease.
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Council members support Music City Music Council revival
The Music City Music Council convened in 2009 under then-Mayor Karl Dean’s administration to support Nashville’s music and creative community, but shrank in 2011 and ultimately fizzled after former-Mayor Megan Barry’s administration.
Council member JSyracuse sponsored the resolution to revive the Music City Music Council to help preserve Nashville’s creative ecosystem in addition to its historic venues from one mayoral administration to the next.
Syracuse said Huntsville, Alabama recently hired a music officer in its mayor’s office, and Nashville shouldn’t take its Music City acclaim for granted.
Grant to help restore former Club Baron
Club Baron, now the Elks Lodge, was a staple of Jefferson Street’s live music scene in the 1950s and 1960s, hosting artists including Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Etta James and Ray Charles and many more.
The construction of Interstate 40 through Jefferson Street’s once thriving music scene hindered the success of the Black-owned music venue.
The North Nashville structure was declared a historic landmark in 2016, but damaged in the March 2020 tornado. Nonprofit Historic Nashville named the Elks Lodge among its “Nashville Nine” list of at-risk historic properties last year.
A $50,000 grant will go to Music City, Inc., a nonprofit created by the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation specifically to restore Elks Lodge.
Reach reporter Cassandra Stephenson at [email protected] or at (731) 694-7261. Follow Cassandra on Twitter at @CStephenson731.