Ray Stevens selling his Nashville Music Row studio to office builder
Ray Stevens selling his Nashville Music Row studio to office builder


Christmas at the CabaRay is from Nov 2 to Dec 29
Nashville Tennessean

An early conceptual rendering of Hall Emery’s planned seven-story, 164,000 square-foot office building at 17th and Grand avenues.(Photo: Hall Emery)

Ray Stevens – the Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter, producer and self-described “Comedy King of Music City” – has nearly closed on a sale of his Music Row offices and recording studio.

His two neighboring lots at 17th Avenue South and Grand Avenue are listed for $13.5 million, but a sale price has not been finalized.

Stevens specifically sought a buyer who wouldn’t erect more apartments or condominiums on the historic strip of country-music businesses.

“There are already apartments and condos down here,” Stevens said. “I thought it would be nice to have a big building that still has music businesses and might draw back some companies that left the Row because space wasn’t available.”

Ray Stevens performs during his Christmas show at Ray Stevens CabaRay Showroom. (Photo: Courtesy of Ray Stevens)

The Hall Emery real estate firm hopes to build a seven-story upscale office building on the combined 1.26-acre lot at 1701 and 1707 Grand Avenue. The property won’t need special Metro approvals unless the plans change because the proposal fits into existing zoning rules. 

Music Row redevelopment

Dozens of properties in the history-rich district have been redeveloped in the past five years. Many replaced unique Craftsman-style buildings with high-rise apartments and condominiums.

“This is sort of my old stomping ground,” Stevens said. “I have a soft spot in my heart for Music Row. I want to see it go in the right direction, and I think that’s going to work out just fine.”

Restaurants and retail shops are planned for the first floor of the 164,000 square-foot building, said David Wells, president at Hall Emery.

The rest will be reserved for upscale and creative offices, and 400 parking spaces. 

“This is one of the most iconic music business areas in the world,” Wells said. “But we won’t have any music businesses relocating to the Row if we don’t build something like this. We’re going to do everything we can to make it a comfortable place for companies who are into creativity and collaboration.”

An early conceptual rendering of Hall Emery’s planned seven-story, 164,000 square-foot office building at 17th and Grand avenues. (Photo: Hall Emery)

Hall Emery also owns the new 18th & Chet mixed-use development nearby, where multinational accounting firm EY – the company formerly called Ernst & Young – recently announced it will open a 600-person office

Wells said he hopes the deal will close early next year. Plans could be finalized by the end of 2019, with a tentative opening date in mid-2021.

“Our intent is to get feedback from Ray Stevens, all the tenants that we’re interacting with, and the community,” Wells said. “Our vision is to bring back people during business hours to Music Row and creating a new destination place.”

Metro planning officials are now working on new zoning rules for the Music Row district that will allow for more retail shops and make the area more attractive to pedestrians. 

CabaRay consolidating 

Stevens, whose real name is Harold Ray Ragsdale, is consolidating his recording studio, offices, public television show and shipping operations at his new CabaRay supper club in West Nashville.

The multi-million dollar CabaRay Showroom features a 750-seat performance venue for weekly dinner shows, as well as Stevens’ entertainment-production facilities. 

“The final CabaRay building is being completed as we speak,” Stevens said. “We’ll be able to move out there after the first of the year.” 

Stevens owns numerous homes in the Music Row district, which includes stretches of 16th, 17th and 18th avenues. 

In September, he sold two 18th Avenue properties to Quaver Music for $3.6 million. 

Local historians and songwriters have banded together in recent years to lobby for enhanced preservation rules on Music Row. Several rallies have been held at the popular tourist stop Bobby’s Idle Hour, which is set to close in January to make way for a new luxury office building. 

Music Row: ‘Nashville Nine’ most endangered historic properties announced

Development: ‘There’s going to be nothing left of Music Row’: Residents plead for reprieve from development


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