Friday, August 29, 2014

Brentwood Developer Sets Stage for Demolition of RCA Studio A

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 7:46 PM

It seems the famed RCA Studio A building is one step closer to demolition.

In June, Brentwood developer Tim Reynolds — whose Bravo Development finalized its purchase of the building at 30 Music Sq. West last month — told the Scene:

We’re glad to [say] that if Bravo Development consummates its sale, it is our full intention to preserve and incorporate the studio into our design. … We are now in the early stages of the engineer work and architectural work, but if that can be achieved, we will incorporate that studio and preserve it. … [I]f it can’t be done, I would certainly withdraw my contract, because it has always been our intention to incorporate [Studio A] somehow in our design.

Now, in a statement fired off to media this evening from its PR firm, Seigenthaler Public Relations, Bravo is backpedaling on that statement, claiming that Reynolds recruited structural, electrical and mechanical engineers to inspect the 51-year-old, 20,000-square-foot structure, and that their findings show the building in a state of disrepair that will make preserving the 5,000-square-foot studio portion financially unfeasible.

Their reports provide a comprehensive picture of a building that requires significant and costly upgrades to bring it up to local, state and federal codes, including:

The replacement of the HVAC system, substantial reinforcement to the walls, replacement of the fire alarm and sprinkler system, reconfiguration of the bathrooms, staircases and other structural elements to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act

In response to Reynolds’ inquiries about preserving the studio alone, the report also specifically addresses its structural weaknesses and likely inability to withstand surrounding construction.

Based on these findings, Bravo Development has concluded that it is not structurally or financially feasible for it to recondition 30 Music Square West. Reynolds said the cost of renovating the building would far outbalance any reasonable rates the developer could ask from the market for the space. The age and condition of the building have long created challenges for past management when leasing the property. He is now determining next steps for the property.

Reynolds has approached various cultural institutions about their interest in helping salvage the few elements of Studio A that are under Bravo Development’s ownership. He hopes to have further information on that front in the coming days. He is also looking at ways to commemorate the Studio’s history as part of any development.

So there it is: RCA Studio A — which rocker Ben Folds rented and operated for the past 12 years (and where countless country, rock and pop stars cut classic recordings in the decades preceeding that), galvanizing a viral movement to save the structure when news of its potential purchase broke — is a veritable death-row inmate one step closer to execution.

Reached via phone by the Scene, Reynolds refused to answer any questions regarding 30 Music Square West and his previously stated commitment to pull his contract if Studio A could not be preserved, directing all inquiries to Seigenthaler Public Relations. A Seigenthaler rep, also speaking to the Scene via phone, simply confirmed statements from the email.

Attached to the email were engineers’ field reports (see PDFs here and here) along with an open letter from Reynolds, which you can read below:

August 29, 2014

Over the past few months, there has been much public discussion surrounding cultural preservation concerns in Nashville, TN and more specifically, Music Row. As you are aware, last month Bravo Development LLC purchased 30 Music Square West - within which RCA Studio A is located. Our purchase has sparked a public debate on the potential preservation of the entire Music Row neighborhood.

We care a great deal about the history of Nashville and recognize the extent to which all corners of this city have served as songwriting inspiration, settings for landmark recordings, and performance venues over the long history of Country Music. The broader question at hand is how to best preserve that history while protecting the rights of property owners and recognizing Nashville’s evolving business climate.

We understand the property that we purchased was offered for sale for over a decade. The building was built in 1963 and is now in a visibly obvious, compromised state of repair. At the same time, Music Row, Downtown, The “Gulch”, Midtown and the like continue to attract the newest and most creative commercial and residential property offerings in our metropolitan area. Due to the age and condition of 30 Music Square West, management has and continues to face ongoing challenges leasing the property in this competitive marketplace. Based on these co-existing conditions, the building is no longer economically viable “as it is.”

We are in the business of identifying and studying the current use, adaptive re-use and the re-development of under-utilized or under-valued real estate. As such, we have and continue to work with most qualified professionals in exploring the architectural, structural, mechanical and aesthetic suitability of a building within the context of its local competitive market. We have been especially diligent with our analysis of 30 Music Square West and have engaged qualified professionals to thoroughly evaluate the building in its present condition. Now, with the results of those assessments in hand, we will consider all options regarding the best use of this property.

We have approached various cultural institutions about their interest in helping salvage the few elements of Studio A that are under our ownership. We hope to have positive news to report about those conversations in the coming days.

There is no question many legendary studio recordings came to life within the walls of Studio A and that those performances are worthy of commemoration; as such, our architects, advisors and designers are confident that there are many creative ways to memorialize these events. Again, we know there are many people who share our appreciation for Nashville’s music-rich history. We want to take the right “next step” with this property with careful consideration of its current condition and limitations.

Tim Reynolds
Bravo Development, LLC

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