Exit/In, Beloved Nashville Club, Launches GoFundMe After Being Sold to Developer
Music fans and artists alike are rallying around Exit/In, a beloved club in Nashville that was recently sold to a developer and could now be forced to close for good. Club owners Chris and Telisha Cobb have launched a GoFundMe to help raise money to hopefully purchase the property back from AJ Capital Partners, with whom it is under contract.
As of publication, the GoFundMe has raised nearly $47,000 of its $200,000 goal via more than 800 donors. The online donation portal shows donations made in the names of several music industry members and artists, including Margo Price.
Price and other artists -- including songwriter and solo artist Kendell Marvel, who hosted his monthly Honky-Tonk Experience at Exit/In prior to the COVID-19 pandemic -- have also been spreading the word about the fundraising effort on social media:
Exit/In opened at 2208 Elliston Pl. in Nashville's Midtown neighborhood, near the Vanderbilt University campus and Centennial Park, in 1971; the street is affectionately known as "the Rock Block." The club and its sister bar, Hurry Back, were put up for sale on Feb. 15, the Nashville Scene reports, by the Nash and Anthony families, who co-own the property.
The Cobbs teamed with Grubb Properties -- a Charlotte, N.C.-based real estate and development firm that recently established the Live Venue Recovery Fund -- to put in an official offer to purchase the property, with a plan for Grubb to lease Exit/In back to the Cobbs until they could purchase it outright.
"The pandemic both exacerbated pre-existing problems and exposed a fundamental flaw in the independent venue ecosystem. We realized it was time to take action to better protect and prepare venues going forward," Hillary Schmidt, Grubb's director of acquisitions, tells the Scene of the firm's decision to establish its Live Venue Recovery Fund at the end of 2020. Exit/In was the second property with which the fund has worked.
However, it was revealed on Friday that the two owners of the Exit/In and Hurry Back property accepted a competing, but equal offer to purchase the property from AJ Capital Partners, which currently owns, among other properties, the Graduate Hotel Nashville, located just a couple of blocks away from Exit/In and Hurry Back. Chris Cobb tells the Tennessean that the property's owners did so "based on a grudge."
"We offered asking price, but the current owners chose to accept another bid. We’re told the money was the same, and their decision was based on a grudge held over the Save the Rock Block campaign, which successfully prevented a budget hotel development," Cobbs explains.
Per the Scene, that campaign halted a developer's plans to tear down historic buildings to make way for a new Holiday Inn Express hotel; the city's Board of Zoning Appeals declined to approve the developer's zoning variance, and the project did not move forward.
Should the Cobbs and Grubb's bid to purchase the Exit/In and Hurry Back property from AJ fail, the money raised through the GoFundMe will be donated to the National Independent Venue Alliance and Music Venue Alliance Nashville, both of which are assisting independent music venues during the pandemic.
Graduate Hotels Chief Financial Officer Tim Ryan and Southeast Venture, the real estate firm of the Nash and Anthony families, had no comment to the Tennessee Lookout about the sale.
In 2020, Kip Moore spotlighted Exit/In and Chris Cobb in the music video for his song "Don't Go Changin'." The club is where a younger Moore, new to town and pursuing his dream of a career in music, felt safe and at home, he shared at the time.
"For me, those venues were a place of refuge, or a place where my dreams were safe, because I was surrounded by other dreamers," says Moore. "So, those venues are everything to me."
Here's How Country Music Changed in 2020: