Business owners trying to protect ‘Rock Block’ amid Nashville growth

Nashville 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – An important part of Nashville’s cultural history continues to face threats of extinction as Nashville grows. 

Business owners within the authentic stretch of businesses on Elliston Place, known as the Rock Block, are trying to preserve the history and the buildings.  

Co-owners of Exit/In and the neighboring business Hurry Back, Chris and Telisha Cobb are fighting to keep one of Nashville’s most endangered historic places untouched.  

“We are one of the last city blocks that is an organic ecosystem that hasn’t been built from the top down. It’s emerged very naturally and so you start becoming concerned about threats of extinction when you start to see that ecosystem so heavily disturbed,” Telisha told News 2. 

Every block surrounding the Rock Block has seen construction, as developers look to move in. 

“You can’t start taking pieces of the ecosystem away and expect it to continue to function the way that it has,” explained Chris.  

The community recently defeated a rezoning exemption that would have allowed a 15-story hotel to be built where a trio of century-old apartments sit.  

“That’s where people live, you know. It’s harder and harder in this town to find a workforce because people can’t afford to live close enough and what we keep seeing now is our cooks, our bartenders, our security staff, they are having to live further and further out. It’s ridiculous that we are even having to have these conversations. It’s obvious that we have a housing crisis in this town, we obviously have a preservation problem, the fact that we are talking about replacing 100-year-old buildings with a hotel boggles the mind.” 

The Cobbs would ultimately like to buy the buildings and preserve them, with a historic overlay. They also want to buy a historic marker for the block, so they have called on their rock block warriors for a benefit show to help in their efforts.  

“We really want to get people back into the building and feel the magic again and see how it’s thriving in these times and to see how it’s unfolding and evolving despite all the threats outside. This place is really doing well, she is about to live her best life at 50,” Telisha said of the music venue. 

The Exit/In is the epitome of what Nashville lives and breathes, music. Over the years everyone from Jimmy Buffet and Johnny Cash to the B-52’s and Steve Martin have taken the stage, but the Cobb’s say the history documented on the walls extends well beyond the building itself. 

“These clubs like Exit/In are part of a greater ecosystem in this town. The challenge right now is, can we buy our buildings and can we get other people who believe in preservation to buy some of the other property down here so that we can put the overlay in place to make sure some of these building don’t get torn down.”  

A benefit show to help in the preservation efforts is being held Saturday night at Exit/In. If you can’t make it to the show and still want to donate you can click here.

There is also a Save the Rock Block petition, that has more than 6,000 signatures  

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