NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After Exit/In was placed under contract with AJ Capital Partners, Nashville's music community and neighbors have rallied to save the historic music venue.
Owners Telisha and Chris Cobb created a fundraiser in order to hopefully buy the venue from the company. They also held a rally outside of the venue earlier this week at which Metro Council members supported Cobb and the large community of musicians and artists who work there.
They spoke about the historic value of the venue and its importance to not only Nashville's creative workforce but also the city as a whole.
However, the real estate development company has responded to the backlash basically saying there's nothing to save the venue from. Ben Weprin, Founder of Adventurous Journeys, said in a statement that AJ Capital Partners' "intent was never a hotel or any other use for the space."
The statement goes on to say that the "first action as owners: to add the EXIT/IN to the National Register of Historic Places."
Weprin said the company has remained silent during the fundraising efforts because of a confidentiality order and wants "to refund all donations made on behalf of the EXIT/IN, so donors can redirect that money toward other worthy causes." The statement goes on to tell donors where to send a donation receipt in order to receive a refund.
The Cobbs responded with their own statement though saying they hope the company accepts their offer to buy the venue back.
"We invite Ben to accept our offer so Exit/In can continue to nurture Nashville creative working class and not become another playground for the elite. The offer to reimburse donors to our campaign is interesting, but we know Nashville’s music community can’t be bought."
As of Friday, the gofundme page has reached a total of nearly $214,000.
Read the full statements from Ben Weprin and Telisha and Chris Cobb below:
Ben Weprin, Founder of Adventurous Journeys:
“Confidentiality was waived this afternoon, so we are now able to speak to the community about our plan for preserving Nashville’s beloved EXIT/IN, which was always our intent for the iconic music venue (the intent was never a hotel or any other use for the space). Our goal and company mission statement is to conserve and preserve while maintaining the health and vibrancy of the communities we invest in. The EXIT/IN is no exception. In fact, the artist community was first to put the need for iconic venue preservation and assistance on our radar. Those conversations are also driving our first action as owners: to add the EXIT/IN to the National Register of Historic Places, so that nobody can ever alter or change the space, as it belongs to Music City. We realize that the delay in our ability to respond has led to dollars spent by hardworking folks, and that’s why we’d like to refund all donations made on behalf of the EXIT/IN, so donors can redirect that money toward other worthy causes. Donors are invited to send a copy of their original donation receipt to the Preserve EXIT/IN GoFundMe to EXITINPreserved@ajcpt.com. As incoming stewards, we thank you for your passion and commitment to this great city. We look forward to seeing the return of live music to its stage.”
Telisha and Chris Cobb, Owners of Exit/In:
We’re thrilled Ben agrees Exit/In must be preserved. We’ve reached out previously to no avail, but hope he’s now ready to accept our offer to purchase the building and make a profit from selling it to us. A legendary place like this – and what makes it beloved by passionate people on both sides of the stage -- is our people. Exit/In has been our family’s home for 17 years and we can tell you the magic of the Exit/In cannot be bought or sold in a real estate transaction. It’s created by the people. Learning to own and operate a small independent venue is a monumental undertaking, especially for a company best known for building luxury developments. We invite Ben to accept our offer so Exit/In can continue to nurture Nashville creative working class and not become another playground for the elite. The offer to reimburse donors to our campaign is interesting, but we know Nashville’s music community can’t be bought. We’re also glad Ben wants to see live music on Exit/In’s stage. We’re not aware that he has seen a show here, but welcome him in to experience the magic of the place... We’re more committed than ever to protecting Nashville’s creative working class - it’s who we are!