Gibson, New York investor head to court over Gulch property sale

A New York commercial real estate investment firm is suing Gibson Guitar parent company Gibson Brands over the former’s failed purchase late last year of the latter’s Valley Arts Building (pictured) in the Gulch.

According to a lawsuit filed in Davidson County Chancery Court, the investment firm Somera Road agreed to purchase the property, recognizable for its large decorative guitar, in December, but a few days later Gibson agreed to sell the property to another buyer.

In November, Somera Road bought another Gibson property, the former Baldwin Piano warehouse also in the Gulch, for $6.4 million. Somera Road and an investment partner also purchased a Gibson property in Memphis for more than $14 million last month.

Ian Ross, Somera Ross' managing principal, declined to comment on the pending litigation, as did Griffin Dunham, an attorney representing Gibson.

A hearing is set for Friday to consider Gibson’s motion to dismiss the case. Somera Road has asked the court to force Gibson to sell the property under the terms of the original agreement. Somera Road is represented by attorneys from Gullett Sanford Robinson & Martin; Gibson is represented by Dunham Hildebrand.

Gibson’s attorneys dispute the plaintiffs’ claims in their motion to dismiss, arguing that, “Somera cannot establish a breach of contract, or anticipatory breach of contract, claim against Gibson because (1) the parties were still negotiating material terms and never expressed mutual assent; (2) the terms of any transaction are too indefinite to support an award of specific performance; and (3) to the extent any agreement was reached, it is barred by the statute of frauds.”

According to a Valley Arts website, the company was a Los Angeles custom guitar line and store dating to the 1960s that eventually relocated to Nashville in 2002. The Davidson County Property Assessor lists the appraised value of the 33,864-square-foot warehouse as $2.53 million.

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