Hot on the heels of this morning’s news that a brand new music venue is opening in Melbourne, there’s been an update to the public sale of Palace Theatre which was put up for public auction last week, with concerns that it would most likely to be razed for a ‘high-density residential project.’
The 2000 capacity venue which has played host to the likes of The Darkness, The Dandy Warhols, Queens Of The Stone Age, Kaiser Chiefs, and will host Splendour sideshows for Lana Del Rey and Miike Snow later this year, was listed for sale last week by receivers Ferrier Hodgson, with a number of Asian developers reportedly showing interest which was “centred on the highest and best use for the property being a high-density residential project subject to the relevant planning approvals.”
Today however, the venue’s owners have issued a statement via their official Facebook page to address concerns that the legacy of the site as a live music venue was under threat by property development investors, suggesting that it’ll be some time before the location can be finalised as anything other than a continued spot for concerts and gigs.
The statement reads:
“In response to recent media articles the landlord has decided to place the building on the market. The venue and its activities will continue as an operating business into the foreseeable future. As a matter of priority, the Palace will be working towards a lease extension with the new building owners if a sale eventuates.”
Clearly released as a way of quelling worries that the loss of The Palace would leave a large gap in Melbourne’s live music scene, removing an important stepping stone for acts as their careers grow in the process.
Interestingly, fellow live music venue Cherry Bar – which recently suffered some ownership shake-ups itself when founder Bill Walsh sold his shares in the iconic bar and walked – managed to get a little more from Palace representatives. Posting an elongated response from the Palace Theatre on their own Facebook page which reads:
“International public tender closes at the end of July. The business that owns the building has been put into external administration, therefore measures have been taken to advocate a sale. This building has been on sale for close to two years now, no bites, only difference now is the angle pointing it towards an international development market sale.
The Palace business (until further notice) will continue to operate and honour its bookings for the foreseeable future. Jenny has more bookings to announce in the near future, we look forward to hosting all these already announced and yet to be announced upcoming shows. We have just launched a new Saturday club called LAB 22 in Gods Bar. We had over a thousand new punters in our building on the weekend and we look forward to holding a pumping lucrative club every Saturday night from here now onwards.
Worst case scenario, an international property developer will pick up the freehold for a steal and over at least the 5 years that it will to take to get a DA we can hope to get a lease extension to continue operating for even longer. We are not naïve in the fact that everything in this world can be bought for the right price. We honestly are in the dark as we do not know what our future holds. We certainly hope that if people truly wish to help us get through this, we have our fingers crossed that it will be more supportive than when we lost our first live music venue…”
It’s worth noting too that the Palace Theatre is also partially covered as a Melbourne Heritage-listed site, with only its facade being protected as a heritage precinct. Leaving its interior technically unprotected, which in turn means that a decision to demolish its entrance would go to a legal tussle between whoever purchases the venue and Heritage Melbourne.
In short, the future is looking a little brighter for one of Melbourne’s key live music venues.
Its reassuring news coming off the back of last week’s reports that Brisbane’s Tivoli Theatre is also for sale, which had a familiar ring to it after Sydney’s The Basement was also put up for public sale earlier in the month.
Melbourne however, has been a primary victim in a distressing pattern of nation-wide closures of live music venues. There was the recent closure of Phoenix Public House (after only six months) and the East Brunswick Club following its Laneway Festival sideshows; as well as both The Arthouse and The Public Bar in the last year.