By Kurt Wolff
After weeks of speculation the 50-year-old Nashville building that houses RCA Studio A has been sold to Bravo Development LLC, a developer located in the Nashville suburb of Brentwood. The final purchase price was $4.075 million, as reported by the Nashville Tennessean. Tenants, which include not only the studio but also country artist Jamey Johnson, were notified today of the sale.
But the fate of the studio and the building does not stop with this sale. Tim Reynolds, who is the owner of Bravo Development, told the Tennessean he is already in negotiations with interested out-of-state developers.
On the surface a nondescript office structure located along Nashville’s Music Row, the building gained national attention after musician and producer Ben Folds posted an open letter about the impending sale and making a case to preserve the studio, which among the tenants housed inside. RCA Studio A was founded in 1964 by Chet Atkins, an early architect of the Nashville Sound, and onetime Nashville A-team guitarist Harold Bradley.
“I’ve recorded all over the world and I can say emphatically that ￼there’s no recording space like it anywhere on the planet,” wrote Folds. He rents the studio and has produced numerous acts in the space, which is large enough to contain a full orchestra. The long list of artists who have recorded in the space over the past half-century includes Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, the Monkees, Waylon Jennings and Tony Bennett.
Bradley, in a subsequent statement of his own, discounted the historic value of the building and the studio. “What makes a place historic?” he wrote. “The architecture of the Nashville sound was never brick and mortar. Certainly, there are old studio spaces that, in our imaginations, ring with sonic magic; but in truth, it’s not the room; it’s the music.”
The Tennessean reports that Reynolds sent a letter to the building’s tenants saying that rent would likely be adjusted going forward, due to costs of operations and repairs. Reynolds had recently assured Folds that he would not buy the building if the studio was not able to be incorporated in future development. However, Reynolds’ current message doesn’t mention preservation and instead makes clear that the building isn’t in great shape.
“The elevator’s bad. The roof’s bad. The wiring is bad. The plumbing is bad. It has asbestos and the duct work has mold,” the Tennessean quotes Reynolds as saying. “These folks who are passionate about the building must stop and take a deep breath.”
The Music Industry Coalition, which was organized recently in the wake of the pending sale of the building and studio, issued a statement today regarding the sale and what it means for Nashville:
While the news of the sale of RCA Studio A doesn’t come as a surprise to us, it exemplifies the rapid residential development happening on Music Row. This isn’t the first Music Row beacon to be sold, and it won’t be the last. Our organization simply wants to be included in the planning and future development of this vital business district. RCA Studio A is a place where artistic exchange and collaboration has been thriving for years. As these spaces disappear, there will likely be a continued decentralization of Nashville’s music industry which has long been a global leader in music creation because of the close proximity of our musical creators. If planning takes this fact into account, Nashville may still be able to keep its creative legacy alive through preserving spaces like Studio A.
More on this story as it develops.