Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Breaking News: City Hall Closes Its Doors Sept. 17

Posted By on Tue, Apr 29, 2008 at 10:38 AM

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Yep, no joke. Just got news that City Hall is closing its doors Sept. 17 after a three-year run. It was bought out by the building owners. There goes another mid-sized venue for the city that attracted more left-of-center acts. More to come after I speak to the owners, but as it stands, the good news is that Austin Ray and Benjamin Goldberg plan to open a similar venue somewhere else in town. UPDATE: The new space will be taken over by Urban Outfitters in early 2009. UPDATE 2: After the jump, read a Q&A with City Hall co-owner Austin Ray about their plans for a new space. He couldn't tell me when, where or how big it would be, but he confirmed it will, indeed, come to fruition. UPDATE 3: Comment from Great Big Shows owner Rick Whetsel, who handles all booking for City Hall. Scene: So, how long was this deal in the works? Austin Ray: Not very long. [It happened] within a month. Scene: So, was it really just about a good offer to vacate the lease early? Ray: There were some other factors involved—parking was starting to get real tight down there. We really like City Hall, and we enjoyed being in the music venue business and we plan on continuing that. I don’t want to say we’ll have time enough to get something else started so that it will be a seamless transition into the next project. But they came in and offered us a deal, and we went back and forth and ended up accepting it. Scene: So I heard there are plans for a new location, possibly a multi-use space. Ray: Yes, and I’ll have to leave it at this, but something much bigger and better than City Hall and more diverse. Scene: Any idea about a new location? I heard north of downtown was a possibility. Ray: No, not yet. I think close to the central business district downtown is ideal, but as the deal shapes up it’s going to end up being a relatively large piece of property. It’s going to be a tough property search, but we’re committed to it. Scene: Any ETA on how long it might take? Ray: There’s no estimated time yet, but we’re committed to making it happen, and there’s no reason to wait. Scene: I’m sure you’re aware that over the years there were some complaints about the sound. Is this new venture a chance to correct the problems you faced with City Hall? Ray: Absolutely. The advantage of having a short run at a place like City Hall is that we’ve learned a lot about what artists want, and what concertgoers want. The facility itself, to be right, it needed some significant investments in HVAC and acoustic work. And I’m excited to be working on something where more than likely we’ll be starting from scratch. Scene: Any idea about capacity for the new space? Ray: I’m not ready to say. An outdoor component is going to be important. I’m not going to say it’s an amphitheater, but an outdoor component is important. From Rick Whetsel on City Hall's closing: "Obviously we [Great Big Shows] were very happy with what we did here with Ben and Austin," says Whetsel. "Obviously we are going to continue to be active in the market at this size. We will be involved in whatever venue gets created at this size. It’s something we have a lot of history doing in this market. We’ve started this thing and we’re willing to do it again. "We definitely want to be able do shows of this size. It’s the bread and butter of Nashville. We don’t want to rest at all. We’re going to make sure there are plenty of options. In the short term, we’ll be doing things at Cannery Ballroom—Chark [Kinsolving] and Todd [Ohlhauser] and John [Bruton] are of course good friends, but we don’t feel that’s a long-term solution." From the press release:
City Hall Entertainment Space, a well-known music venue and private event space located in the Gulch, will close its doors in mid-September. MarketStreet Enterprises, principal developer of The Gulch and owner of the building leased to City Hall, approached venue owners Austin Ray and Benjamin Goldberg about vacating their lease early. Ray and Goldberg accepted the offer, and will look to establish a similar venue elsewhere in Nashville. Because of its size and ability to adapt, City Hall filled a unique niche in Nashville’s live music venue and private event space options. Coupled with an exceptional staff and management, City Hall was a successful venture for Ray and Goldberg, who also own the trendy nightclub Bar Twenty3. Located in a 12,000-square-foot warehouse in an historic 1920s building in the Gulch, City Hall has hosted some of today’s most well-known musicians, including acts such as Ray LaMontagne, Beck, and the Raconteurs. With a capacity to hold up to 1500 people, City Hall has accommodated many patrons throughout its three-year success. “Benjamin and I are especially grateful to everyone who has enjoyed a show at City Hall,” said co-owner Austin Ray. “Nashville has such a passion for live music, and we are immensely thankful we were able to bring that experience to so many.”


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