In what’s becoming all too familiar a scenario as our city is rapidly transformed by high-dollar development and soaring real estate prices, downtown music venue, urban winery, and restaurant City Winery has been sold to a developer group for $21 million. Founded initially in 2008 in New York by Michael Dorf, who rose to prominence in the live music space with his famed former New York staple the Knitting Factory, City Winery- initially conceived as a jazz-oriented venue concept but now catering to a wide variety of concerts- has expanded over the years to numerous cities around the nation, with the Nashville location opening at its site at 609 Lafayette St., not far from Third Man Records, in the fall of 2014.
Unlike similar recent venues changes with the Mercy Lounge complex and the long-running prior team at Exit/In, who were both tenants beholden to landlords forced out of their spaces (and subsequently reopened or imminently reopening under new management), City Winery itself owns its building, which it paid $2.65 million for a decade ago, and seems to have opted to sell simply for the high return on investment. In a statement posted to X (formerly Twitter), in response to reporting by the Nashville Post, which you can read below, Dorf himself not only confirmed the sale, but also seems to lament how real estate is unfortunately more lucrative than running a venue, while also clarifying that the capital will be used to expand and grow City Winery, with a search for a new Nashville location underway, and an interim three and a half year lease apparently in place.
Downtown’s City Winery building sells for $21M , Yes, it's true. We did a 3.5year lease and will be looking for a new and improved location. Exciting how much money one can make in real estate, if only making culture, wine and people happy was as easy. But don't worry, this…— Michael Dorf (@Michaeldorf) December 15, 2023
As far as the future of the site (following that apparent interim lease for City Winery), that is currently unclear, however the same developers who purchased the property, reported by the Nashville Post to be Byran Fort and Taylor Preston, also bought a property directly across the street last year, and own several properties to City Winery’s immediate south on Ewing Ave., leaving us to speculate that a major development initiative could be an eventuality. Just like some of the other recent venue changes, the outcome here is a little bittersweet; while it’s a shame to see development upend another long-running music hall, at least it’s on terms that might allow the venue to reopen elsewhere and continue to fund their cultural and creative endeavors more comfortably, rather than shutter entirely.
City Winery currently has a full calendar of music, comedy, and other events, which extends into the spring, and offers daily restaurant, bar, and winery service.