Garth Brooks Development Impinging on Ernest Tubb Record Shop
In December of 2021, Garth Brooks paid $47.9 million for the property and structure residing at 411 Broadway in Nashville, right in the heart of the city’s bustling Lower Broadway entertainment district. Eventually, it will be Nashville’s hub for all things Garth, including a restaurant and bar, event and performance space, as well as a merch store. The three-story building that used to be the old Sportsman’s Club has already housed a temporary Garth store, but the full plans and an opening date for the new Garth megaplex have yet to be revealed.
Last week, it was announced that Garth Brooks would be using his acquisition of 411 Broadway for altruistic purposes as well. At least, that’s what’s been presented on the surface. In a press release from the Metro Nashville Police Department, it was announced that free of charge, Garth Brooks would be offering up space on the property for a police substation, as well as a Nashville Department of Transportation and Multimodal Infrastructure (NDOT) traffic control room, and that Garth would even be constructing the facilities for the city pro bono.
The press release states the new police substation and NDOT hub “…will be developed by Brooks at no cost to Metro taxpayers and will add critical resources to both departments’ efforts to reduce traffic congestion and keep the city’s busiest few blocks secure.”
The Metro Nashville Police statement also makes sure to state, “Garth Brooks is the 7-time CMA Entertainer of the Year, a first for any artist. He is also the first and only artist in history to receive nine Diamond Awards for the now nine albums certified by the RIAA at over 10 million album sales each. He remains the #1-selling solo artist in U.S. history, certified by the RIAA with 157 million album sales.”
It seems a little strange that a press release from a local police department would speak in such detail about the professional accomplishments of someone like Garth Brooks. But then again, this news is a little strange in itself, except from someone like Garth Brooks. In fact, this is a very Garth Brooks thing to announce—meaning something that on the surface is presented entirely as an act done out of the kindness of Garth’s heart, while in truth, there could be very self-serving purposes to this donation. As the old saying goes, there’s is no such thing as a free lunch.
411 Broadway is a unique property in the Lower Broadway area for a host of reasons. It has a much bigger footprint than many other parcels in the region, with more real estate facing Lower Broadway than many of the other businesses, along with a whopping 43,000 square foot of space as presently constructed. And unlike many of its neighbors, 411 Broadway is not as “historic” as other structures, since it was built in 1949, and has been overhauled from the ground up previously. The glass and blue steel front of the building seems more indicative of the 70s or 80s as opposed to the 1800s. The previous owners of the property used the cavernous space for 20 hotel rooms, and an ax throwing parlor among other attractions.
Nonetheless, the Garth Brooks property does fall within the jurisdiction of the Metro Historic Zoning Commission, or MHZC. On Wednesday, August 17th, the developers of the Garth Brooks property were in front of the commission making their case for an addition to be added on the side of the 411 Broadway building. This addition would be five stories and span the length of the current building, with balconies on the front overlooking Broadway. The new police substation and NDOT hub will be located at the front of this addition with access to the 1st floor and 2nd story balconies, with the balance to be utilized in the Garth Brooks entertainment complex, including the 3rd story balcony.
But you may be asking, where is the space coming from for the new addition in the crowded Lower Broadway corridor, and where every square inch of real estate is worth a fortune? It’s coming from an alley adjacent to the 411 Broadway property. The press release from Metro Nashville states,
“As part of the agreement, which is subject to Metro Council approval, Metro will authorize a commonplace condemnation of an alley adjacent to 411 Broadway, the site of a future Brooks entertainment concept. Metro Government authorizes approximately between 15 and 30 alleyways each year to developers, property owners and other third parties as part of the standard city planning and permitting process.”
The press release makes sure to characterize the condemnation of this alley as perfunctory and commonplace, and perhaps it is. But it’s also not without consequences, or significant benefits for Garth Brooks. Even though part of the new addition will house the police substation, the rest of it will be part of the Garth Brooks entertainment concept. By partnering with the city, Garth Brooks is picking up a large portion of real estate and square feet for his Lower Broadway business without having to pay for it since the alley is being condemned by the city as opposed to paid for out of Garth’s pocket. And yes, Garth will now own the property, not the city. Garth will then lease the property back to the city in a long-term ground lease.
On the open market, the alley property it would be worth millions of dollars, while the condemnation of the alley will have significant implications for the other business in the area, and for one business especially: The Ernest Tubb Record Shop.
Sharing the alley with Garth’s development at 411 Broadway is the historic building at 417 Broadway that has housed the Ernest Tubb Record Shop since 1951, and which was built before The Civil War. Though nobody “owned” the alley, businesses in the area utilize these alley spaces for dumpsters, temporary or employee parking, parking for deliveries, overflow during special events, and other uses in an extremely cramped environment. The Ernest Tubb Record Shop most certainly utilized this alley for all of these purposes.
And those are not the only concerns for the ally adjacent to the historic property being developed. After months of turmoil and concern that the Ernest Tubb Record Shop property would be sold, closed down, and redeveloped, a new partnership group including Nashville-based real estate investor Brad Bars, Russian-born renown Nashville studio musician Ilya Toshinskiy, and Ernest Dale Tubb III purchased the property in late July with the intent of re-opening the Record Shop which closed earlier this year, while revitalizing the historic property. No only are they going to lose the alley which they could have utilized, the new owners are significantly concerned that the construction could impinge upon or damage the historic property.
At the Metro Historic Zoning Commission meeting on Wednesday, August 18th, a lawyer representing the new Ernest Tubb Record Shop ownership group spoke, raising the first concern they have with Garth’s development overcrowding the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, and specifically a set of balconies on the 2nd and 3rd floor of Garth’s proposed addition that will crowd out the sight lines for the iconic Ernest Tubb Record Shop sign.
“That alley is going to be taken from us, so we would like to be more involved in that conversation,” the lawyer said. “What we’re also concerned about is that if you look at these balconies, number 1, they’re not historically allowed on Broadway. But what we’re also concerned about is the Ernest Tubb sign, which is going to be there forever—the building has been there since 1850, the Midnite Jamboree is one of the longest running programs on WSM and will continue—we’re really worried about that sight line, and how that’s going to block that sign from the side of the road. And there’s no need for the 3rd level observation deck … we are [also] worried about building so close to us, what that’s gonna do, and if that’s going to deteriorate from our storefront …so that’s something we’re super concerned about.”
A contractor representing the Ernest Tubb Record Shop spoke about how the construction of the Garth Brooks addition could very well damage the historic Ernest Tubb Record Shop building, and asked for a 60 day pause in the process so that a soil assessment and other evaluations could be done.
“We don’t want to inhibit progress on the alley, or needlessly stall construction,” he said. “However, the structural integrity of our building could be seriously impacted by the activities of 411 Broadway. Our building predates the 1850s. It predates The Civil War. The 411 infill project will require excavating over 14,000 cubic feet of soil, which currently rests against and stabilizes our foundation. It is entirely foreseeable that excavating this material away from the foundation may impact the structural integrity of this historic building on Broadway. A forensic study of our foundation, and how it may be affected by the proposed construction is necessary to proceed prudently with this project.”
Then Ernest Dale Tubb III spoke, mirroring the concerns of others.
“I have concern for the excavation of the alleyway for structural reasons obviously. A big concern of mine is growing up here in Nashville, and 71 years ago when my grandfather opened that store, they bolted that sign to the front of that building, which makes it probably the most iconic sign down on Broadway. It made it through the 70s and 80s when nobody wanted to go to Broadway, and in my mind, the line of sight when you’re standing on 1st Ave., or at the top of 5th is that you see that sign. The balconies create an obstruction of view.”
It also came out during the Historic Zoning Commission discussion over the proposed Garth Brooks addition that it was the recent sale of the Ernest Tubb Record Shop property that facilitated the condemnation of the alley, and the acquisition by Garth Brooks. Saving Country Music has been unable to confirm if the previous owners of the Ernest Tubb Record Shop building had a proper lease agreement on the alley itself with the city, but it was alluded to during the discussion that they did, and part of facilitating the new purchase of the Record Shop property was ending that lease agreement.
Ultimately, the Historical Commission said they were not able to grant a deferral to allow a forensic foundation study before the Garth Brooks addition is to be constructed, because that is not within the commission’s legal purview. They also chose to not ask for removal of the balconies that will impinge on the sight lines of the iconic Ernest Tubb sign. They only made some rulings on railings, how windows on the addition must be fixed instead of opening, and said that the 3rd level balcony needs to step back.
You can see the whole discussion on the Garth Brooks addition at 411 Broadway below:
On hand at the Historic Commission meeting to advocate for the Garth Brooks addition moving forward were a representative from the contracting and development company working on the project, as well as a representative from the Mayor’s office. With Nashville Mayor John Cooper, the Metro Nashville Police Department, as well as MDOT all advocating for the project, it puts the ownership group that just acquired the Ernest Tubb Record Shop building at a natural disadvantage. Not only was Garth Brooks able to walk away with the land that was once used as a city-owned right-of-way, he also has advocates from the city working in his favor in the zoning and permitting process for the entire project in exchange for a small portion of the new addition being used for public works.
Hopefully, the new development ultimately does not impinge on the Ernest Tubb Record Shop or their plans for re-opening, does not damage the historic building, or affect other businesses in the Lower Broadway region. But with Garth’s penchant for going big, and now with multiple Nashville offices advocating for his project, it is imperative that the public pay attention, and those that the public have entrusted to oversee such developments are making objective decisions on how the Garth Brooks development at 411 Broadway is handled moving forward.
– – – – – – – – – –
The new ownership group of the Ernest Tubb Record Shop has not announced a re-opening, but have made their intent to preserve the building and business known, with more plans to be revealed soon.
August 23, 2022 @ 9:50 am
Throwing away history for financial progress?
August 24, 2022 @ 6:54 am
Wish kid rock would have purchased all this .
He would have done more for Nashville and
The history of country music than garth will.
But garth who is about as far from country music
As this mess Nashville is producing now.
August 29, 2022 @ 10:55 am
You think Kid Rock gives a DAMN about country music history?
August 25, 2022 @ 4:08 am
I grew up listening to the old greats of country music. Ernest Tubb was one of my Dad’s favorites next to Hank Williams Sr. Country music had stories with words that made sense and touched your 💜 with meaning. I don’t hear that in today’s country music. My favorite artist was Gentleman Jim Reeves. He is my idol!!! Going to Nashville was a place I waited for a long time to visit. The Ernest Tubb Record Store, Jim Reeves Museum, among other great places to visit. Now, you want to tear it down. No one plays the old country any longer on radio stations. There is however KSJB in Jamestown, North Dakota that plays the classics. My parents are now gone and when I hear the greats it brings back such wonderful memories. When is it enough that you not only take away the classics but places that made Nashville a great place to visit. Don’t get above your raising. SHAMEFUL AND DISGUSTING TO HEAR THIS!!
August 23, 2022 @ 9:53 am
Thank you for covering this topic in such great detail, Trigger. With Garth’s general aversion to bad press, one would think that drawing enough negative attention to what’s happening would be enough to make him back down. Do you foresee any kind of grassroots efforts on social media or any sort of local petitions that could put a pause to what’s happening?
August 23, 2022 @ 10:13 am
The condemnation of the alleyway has already happened, and the Garth Brooks addition will be built. Garth’s got all the momentum, and the machine of the City of Nashville is behind him. When the police department is drafting press releases enumerating your accomplishments, and the mayor’s office is dispatching emissaries to advocate for you in commission meetings, you win in these civic issues. About the only thing those who care about the Ernest Tubb Record Shop and other businesses in the area can hope for at this point is small victories, like getting the balconies on the new addition either removed or moved back (which is partly in process), and perhaps making the public aware of what Garth is doing. Garth owns the property now, and it’s his right to do with it what he wants.
I’m just dumbfounded how the press ran with Nashville Metro Police’s press release without questioning the narrative that Garth Brooks was giving them space out of the kindness of his heart. It’s like Garth’s PR firm wrote the press release, not the police. I don’t want to go too far and say something nefarious happened here. But it is certainly something the public should be clear-eyed and very aware of. If someone wanted to start a petition, they would need to be very specific what they’re advocating for, and aware of where this process is at.
August 23, 2022 @ 12:30 pm
I always go back to the old Wu Tang Clan lyric: “cash rules everything around me” with this kind of stuff. As I am currently doing a historic preservation job (on a building from the 1940’s) it pains me that this is even on anyone’s mind. How much money does Garth Brooks need? On the other hand, if you are trying to grease the wheels AND keep a security team without paying salary you could not have picked a more effective method. So, tip of the hat for the cunning and probably a middle finger for the end product.
August 23, 2022 @ 12:54 pm
Good point on the free security angle. I’m sure Garth will still have to pay for some security, but having a cop shop right there on site will surely save on some of those costs, and on the insurance policy.
August 23, 2022 @ 12:03 pm
Garth Brooks entire career is being “infringing” on classic country music. Nothing different here; par for the course.
August 23, 2022 @ 12:06 pm
Lol and Garth said “Ernest who?”
August 23, 2022 @ 12:24 pm
I love Garth Brooks…..Sincerely, Garth Brooks.
August 23, 2022 @ 12:45 pm
I’m not happy with what Garth Brooks is doing on Broadway. Yes, he’s helping the city out with these added services but you must take into consideration…HISTORY!!!!! Anything that imposes on a historic building should not take place. He should step in and okay any excavation tests they want to do…and all work should be done in the utmost respect. Respect for what?!?!?!? Country music history and state history. Ernest Tubbs record shop is a landmark in our kind of music and it shouldn’t be buried in the addition of new building. It’s just not right. And who cares about how many albums Garth Brooks has sold. The history of country music is much more important. Hopefully, Nashville will make the right decision.
August 29, 2022 @ 4:44 am
History means nothing anymore. I live in a small town with 1 stoplight. The oldest building in town was bought and demolished so that the local convenience store/gas station could build an ugly garage at the back to hold stuff. It’s ugly!
wayne "the original"
August 23, 2022 @ 12:46 pm
“In fact, this is a very Garth Brooks thing to announce—meaning something that on the surface is presented entirely as an act done out of the kindness of Garth’s heart, while in truth, there could be very self-serving purposes to this donation.”
Man, what a correct comment.
All one has to do is present this problem to Garth, his bottom lip will quiver, crocidile tears will be shed, and they will get it all worked out because Garth always prefers the other party because he is super-moral, takes the high road always, and just loves everybody – golly gee. Ha, right!
August 23, 2022 @ 1:28 pm
Sounds like Garth being Garth!
You just look to the future and think, how many of these lousy huge bars backed by middle of the road artists will last in ten or twenty years? What will Nashville be remembered for in the future, bachelorette parties and getting wasted at your favorite artist’s three story bar, or historical country music places?
Kinda reminds me of the scene in “It’s A Wonderful Life” when George Bailey sees what life would be like without him and his beloved Bedford Falls has been changed into Pottersville, a decadent and seedy place. Kinda like what Broadway was years ago.
Who will want to visit Nashville to see all these worthless establishments?
August 24, 2022 @ 10:09 am
So Garth is Mr Potter. Cool analogy.
August 24, 2022 @ 2:13 pm
And Lower Broadway isn’t decadent now?
August 23, 2022 @ 2:23 pm
All this hating on Garth is just silly.
SOMEBODY’s going to develop the property.
Has anyone else come up with a better proposal or offer than the Garth group?
BTW, I seriously doubt that Garth Brooks is personally doing this deal or developing the property–any more than Derek Jeter bought The Tampa Bay Rays, some years back.
Garth may be putting in some money, but experienced real estate developers with knowledge of the city are doing it. At least by putting his name on it Garth takes some responsibiltiy gives everyone a known person to complain to if they don’t like the final project. Would everyone rather that it were MetroNash Development Corp. or some other faceless entity?
August 23, 2022 @ 2:51 pm
I don’t think the issue is the development of the original property. I think the worst that anyone did when Garth bought the property was roll their eyes. The issue has to do with the transfer of use of the alley from the Ernest Tubb Record Shop to the new Garth property, the development of the alley, along with the fair issues the new Ernest Tubb Record Shop owners expressed in a public hearing.
August 24, 2022 @ 9:28 am
Jeter (and partners) bought the Miami Marlins, not the Rays, and bailed out on the team not long ago.
August 23, 2022 @ 2:57 pm
157 million albums sold. Well, says one thing for sure…..157 million people have no taste in country music.
August 23, 2022 @ 3:25 pm
He had at least one great song… especially The Dance.
August 24, 2022 @ 5:23 pm
His first two albums were pretty great.
August 23, 2022 @ 3:22 pm
There’s gotta be a way to keep the alley space and just build above it on levels 2 & 3, with just some support beams on the edges. And no reason the balconies can’t be pulled back a few feet to protect the sign sight lines.
August 23, 2022 @ 5:59 pm
Weimerica in its death throes. Maybe they can compromise and just bridge the alley with a combination sportsbook and axe throwing venue. Life can be so cold when its dead.
King Honky Of Crackershire
August 24, 2022 @ 10:53 am
I’m stealing “Weimerica”.
August 23, 2022 @ 10:49 pm
FFS, you guys need to get the chip off your shoulder about Garth. Im pretty sure Strait and Jackson have done some business deals in their favour.
August 24, 2022 @ 4:35 am
I had no opinion until I read that John Cooper is in favor of it. That tells you it’s wrong.
August 24, 2022 @ 5:32 am
If I never hear anything else out of Garth Brooks again, it will be too soon. I am so burnt out on him and his music. I get that he pretty much owned the 90s. And my radio station plays his music because we have to. I’m just so over him.
August 24, 2022 @ 7:52 am
I don’t see how the engineers involved in Garth’s project haven’t taken into account the effect of the new construction on adjacent structures. That’s part of their job. If they’re excavating in the alley, they’re going to make sure the record shop foundations aren’t undermined, especially as it’s designated as a historic structure. I could see the negative impacts regarding the signage and miscellaneous use in the alley; but I would expect any structural/foundation concerns will be addressed and monitored during construction.
August 24, 2022 @ 8:54 am
In the Historical Commissioners meeting, one of the commissioners brought up that Garth’s contractors would still be responsible for any damage that occurred to 417 Broadway during the construction process. I’m sure they will take into some account the adjacent building. But having just paid $18.3 million for the building, and still trying to get their feet beneath them as owners, I don’t blame the ET Record Shop owners for wanting to be thorough, or even using the request as a (failed) delay tactic in order to figure out what they’re trying to do. That alley would have been very useful to the ET Record Shop in doing whatever renovating they have planned. Historically, that’s the Record Shop’s alley, not the Garth property, which has more rear access.
August 24, 2022 @ 8:17 am
If you look up the word “phony” in the dictionary, the definition is just a photo of Garth.
D Ray White
August 24, 2022 @ 8:59 pm
Right next to Gaines, Chris
The Original WTF Guy
August 24, 2022 @ 8:33 am
As many people know, in the Book of Revalation the opening of the Seventh Seal leads to the sounding of seven trumpets, each of which results in something terrible happening (e.g., hail and fire, mingled with blood, are thrown to the earth burning up a third of the trees and green grass).
What many people don’t know is that in early versions of Revalation there were actually eight trumpets sounded. However, one, it fell between the sounding of the fifth and sixth trumpet, was removed early on because it portended something so terrible, it was believed mankind would not have been able to evolve knowing such a horror awaited.
According to this early version of Revalation, the hearlding of the sixth trumpet led to “Nashville’s hub for all things Garth.”
You have been warned.
The Original WTF Guy
August 24, 2022 @ 9:00 am
Yeah, I misspelled Revelation. Sue me. 🙂
August 24, 2022 @ 5:27 pm
Multiple times. And “heralding”. Haha! Just messin’ with ya!
August 24, 2022 @ 8:11 pm
Have the Garth haters taken the time to think, that the amount of foot traffic his bar will bring to the area, will be ten fold, Ernest Tubb record store is going to have a lot more customers.
August 24, 2022 @ 10:59 pm
Where does he rank in Country Music. Zero. Mind you Country Music to a purist is almost doomed. Jean Shepard called it right. Wake up fellas before it’s gone.
August 25, 2022 @ 11:42 am
I’m sure Garth will place his hat over his heart, talk about how much he admires Keith Whitley, how much he loves Tricia, and all will be forgotten.
Former Beer Salesman
August 26, 2022 @ 12:50 am
Kris Kristofferson’s favorite songwriter, Garth Brooks? That guy? Record label shadow president, Garth Brooks? Him? Must be someone else. The Gartholomew I know is a Saint among men. He’d never put a few sleazy dollars ahead of ethics and tradition.
August 26, 2022 @ 7:01 am
I don’t Garth is Kristofferson’s “favorite” songwriter, just the guy chosen for the award this year.
Billy The Kid
August 26, 2022 @ 12:38 pm
Garth Brooks did for country music what pantyhose did for finger f*****g. -Waylon Jennings
August 26, 2022 @ 5:11 pm
I have quit visiting Nashville because Broadway has become to commercial for my laid back taste. I enjoyed downtown Nashville and the 16th Avenue of 30 years ago, but hey that’s just me. Different strokes for different folks. I knew however I could find that rare country album at Ernest Tubbs Record Shop when I did visit.