Hermann’s Jazz Club fate up in air as deadline passes

A community group trying to keep Hermann’s Jazz Club open by buying it has failed to reach a fundraising goal in time for an Oct. 31 deadline.

The Jazz On View Society is now asking for a six-month extension to its fundraising campaign and seeking the opportunity to lease the club.

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“We still had a long way to go,” said Nichola Walkden, society treasurer. “What we’d hoped from the beginning was some kind of partnership.”

The charitable society formed this year with a plan to save the landmark jazz venue.

By the end of October, it had to tell the owners whether it raised enough money to buy the building at 753 View St. If that stage of fundraising was successful, the $3-million sale was to close on Dec. 14.

But the society fell far short. It collected $32,000 in non-refundable deposits and an unspecified amount in pledges.

The building, with a vacant nightclub upstairs, is owned by the three children of the club’s founder, Hermann Nieweler. They inherited the property and club when Nieweler died in 2015 at the age of 79.

The jazz venue was a passion project for Nieweler for more than 35 years, hosting established and up-and-coming local musicians, as well as big names such as Wynton Marsalis, Diana Krall and Michael Bublé.

“I want the jazz club to continue in the way my dad envisioned it, as a community-oriented place,” said Stephan Nieweler, who supported the society’s plan.

“It’s an incubator for multiple generations of talent.”

Nieweler said he’s willing to give the society an extension or to consider supporting a lease agreement in the meantime, but still needs his siblings’ input on the future of the building and club, currently being operated by his sister.

“It’s going to be sold. It’s just a matter of time and figuring out how to do it,” he said.

If the venue does go on the open market, Nieweler said the listing price would likely be higher than the $3 million requested from the society.

Walkden said her group will wait to hear from the Niewelers about a possible extension to the society’s bid for the club. In the meantime, it plans to continue promoting jazz concerts in the city, even if it means finding other venues.

spetrescu@timescolonist.com

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