Real estate developer AJ Capital Partners, whose summer purchase of the property home to live music club Exit/In caused some residents to worry about the future of the venue, has applied for a historic landmark overlay at the site — a Metro designation that would make it more difficult to make changes to the structure.
AJ Capital applied for the protections on Oct. 21, according to documents from the Metropolitan Historic Zoning Commission. Both the historic zoning commission and the Metro Planning Commission will debate the proposal before the Metro Council votes. Zoning commission staff have determined the application meets the standards for a historic landmark because the property is eligible to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places. A group at Middle Tennessee State University is currently working to get Exit/In added to the national list.
Under the proposed historic overlay, which does not include the building home to neighboring bar Hurry Back (AJ Capital owns that property, too), any external alterations to the Exit/In building or its signage would need to meet National Park Service guidelines.
The venue opened in the early 1970s on Elliston Place and has since hosted performances by Johnny Cash, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson and hundreds of others.
The venue’s operators sought to raise money to purchase the building after AJ Capital’s interest in the property was first made public. The group ultimately raised more than $200,000 but were rebuffed by AJ Capital, who promised to preserve the club.
“The culture of Nashville, Music City, is built daily on the backs of thousands of creative working-class people,” Exit/In owner Chris Cobb, who spearheaded the effort to buy the property, said via email. “I support any action that ensures these people can thrive in our city and oppose anything that makes it more difficult. I hope the new owners of the building will commit to protecting our ecosystem and the people who make it.”
An AJ Capital representative did not respond to a request for comment.