With the soundtrack of demolition humming along in the background, members of the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum convened Thursday for the last time at their Sixth Avenue location, recognizing the facility will likely be the final victim of a new 1.2-million-square-foot convention center.
The Metro Department and Housing Agency and the museum’s founder and CEO Joe Chambers are set to square off in circuit court Friday morning in the last eminent domain proceeding required for Metro to take ownership of the 16 total acres of the future $585 million Music City Center’s footprint.
Based on Metro’s recent success in acquiring land from Tower Investments and Nashville Downtown Platinum, Chambers isn’t confident.
“I have very little faith at this point,” Chambers said. “I don’t have any reason to expect anything different. All the noise you hear is them knocking down these buildings around me. I doubt seriously they’re going to let us stand in the way of the convention center.”
Metro has offered $4.8 million for the hall of fame’s property, but from figures Chambers said other appraisal experts have tallied, relocating the building to new property would cost $9.8 million.
“I told them this from the very beginning,” Chambers said. “If they’re going to take it away from us then somebody’s going to have to replace it, and that somebody is me. The only fair thing is for them to give me enough money to replace the property — not in Afghanistan, but in downtown Nashville.”
Metro officials months ago suggested allowing the hall of fame operate out of space inside the new convention center. MDHA Executive Director Phil Ryan told The City Paper Thursday that such a scenario is still “certainly possible.”
Ryan said ultimately renting convention center space to the hall of fame would be at the discretion of the nine-member Convention Center Authority. For it to happen, he said the hall of fame would have to apply for and be granted official nonprofit status.
“There is nothing in writing,” said Chambers when asked about a deal to move into Music City Center. “I haven’t heard anything but words.”
Founded in 2006, the museum chronicles the history of recorded music through a collection of instruments and equipment that were once used by famous musicians. On Thursday, its final day of operation, more than 100 fans and supporters packed the museum to pay tribute to its first class of hall of fame inductees.
Those honored and in attendance included Reggie Young, long-time guitarist for Elvis Presley; Pig Robbins, keyboardist for artists ranging from Bob Dylan to Merle Haggard; and members of The Wrecking Crew, a famous group of studio musicians who performed with the likes of The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra and The Monkees.
In an expression of support, fans have started a save-the-museum group on the social networking website Facebook that had accumulated more than 5,500 supporters as of Thursday.
“This is the only place like this in the world,” said Bruce Bouton, who works in the recording industry. “It’s a great asset to the city, and I’m amazed that the city doesn’t think more of this treasure than to just stream-roll this convention center without any thought to the process.”