Earlier today, a Craigslist ad began circulating on Facebook that reads:
Downtown Athens music venue for lease/sale. Available August 1, 2014. 227 Dougherty St. 4400 sq/ft building with stage, FOH sound booth, office, green room, side stage monitor booth, full bar, bathrooms. Also has outside deck overlooking courtyard area with stage. Triple net lease. Inquire for more details.
That music venue is New Earth Athens, the EDM/jam hotspot on the corner of Dougherty and Hull streets that was recently renovated and now boasts a popular outdoor stage and patio. Reached for comment, New Earth founder Adrian Zelski says he and the club's other employees were blindsided by the ad.
"We're trying to figure it out," Zelski writes. "[The] landlord has always been not friendly with us or helpful. We're trying to buy the building and he puts out this random ad for sale right after we paid for the appraisal of the building… We get the appraisal back today and we're expecting it to be way lower than his asking price, so that might have been why he put the ad out."
The following post also went up on New Earth's Facebook page (emphases ours):
We at New Earth are in the process of trying to buy the building that we have put so much love and energy into over the past 5 years. We have put 100's of thousands of dollars into making the place beautiful without any tenant improvements or help from our landlord. Today, he posted that the venue is for sale or rent with all of the amenities that we built out. We just paid a hefty amount to get the place appraised and are working to get everything together to make it something we can fully invest in for the Athens community. So please let it be known that the gossip that is circling is because we are not going to continue to be undervalued for what we have done for the building. If you want to help please let us know. We are doing everything we can to buy the building that we have beautified and make it a real gem for Athens. If anyone tries to rent or buy it from landlord without us, we would appreciate support from everyone to make things right. We all have seen the FB posts and Craigslist and now it's out in the open. This is the time to turn it all into something great and we are committed to doing this.
UPDATE: Property owner Mark Bell tells Flagpole he was looking out for his best interests by posting the Craigslist ad, while also stressing, "I want [New Earth] to buy the building. I've been trying to work with them."
Bell explains that he has been attempting for over a month to get a new lease or a sale finalized with New Earth's owners before the current agreement runs out at the end of July, but says nothing has been finalized.
A clause in the agreement allows Bell to advertise the space to prospective leasees within 90 days of the lease's end so long as the current tenants have not yet agreed to renew.
"I've bent over backwards" trying to reach a deal, says Bell, adding that the venue has been largely uncooperative. In terms of improvements made by New Earth to the property, Bell says that's simply part of operating a business.