The beloved Exit/In is staying right where it is, says the owner of AJ Capital Partners, the development company that bought the property.
“Confidentiality was waived this afternoon,” AJ Capital founder Ben Weprin said in a statement (via The Tennessean). “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.”
According to Werpin, AJ Capital, known for building Graduate Hotels across the country, never planned on turning the iconic venue into a hotel.
“Our goal and company mission statement is to conserve and preserve while maintaining the health and vibrancy of the communities we invest in,” Weprin said. “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,” he added.
Exit/In owners Chris and Telisha Cobb initially offered the same amount of money as AJ Capital to the building’s owner, but their offer was declined. They launched a GoFundMe account to raise more money, with hopes of buying the property from AJ Capital, but Werpin says that money will be refunded.
“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,” Werpin said. “Donors are invited to send a copy of their original donation receipt to the Preserve EXIT/IN GoFundMe to [email protected] 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.”
The Cobbs spoke out about the decision, expressing gratitude for the ability to preserve Exit/In, while also stating they are still interested in buying the property.
“We’re thrilled Ben agrees Exit/In must be preserved,” the Cobbs said. “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’s creative working class and not become another playground for the elite,” they continued. “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!”
Exit/In is located at 2208 Elliston Place in Nashville. Keep track of updates here.