Melbourne’s Palace Theatre Sold, New Owners Intentions Unclear
Melbourne’s iconic live music venue, the Palace Theatre, was put up for public auction in mid-June, with concerns that it would most likely to be razed for a ‘high-density residential project.’
The 2000 capacity venue, which most recently played host to a number of Splendour sideshows for Lana Del Rey and Miike Snow, was listed for sale in June by 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.”
The last the public heard about the matter however was nearly two months ago, after the venue’s owners were quick to issue a statement to address concerns that the legacy of the site in Melbourne’s music scene was under threat by property developers. Suggesting that it’d be some time before the location could be finalised for anything other than a place to host live music.
As early as Monday this week, the Palace has now officially been sold – to who is still unclear – but Tone Deaf contacted the venue’s director and owner, Greg Young about the finality of the Palace Theatre’s public sale.
Young says: “You are correct that the sold sign was placed on the sale board on Monday,” but added that it would not affect its future as a live music venue.
“Everyone seems to be getting their knickers in a knot over this,” says Young. “This is simply a commercial arrangement where the title of the building and NOT THE BUSINESS is changing hands. Too many people think that the building is the business.” Young once again assured music lovers that the loss of the Palace as live music venue, was not in its immediate future.
“The question I put to people who continuous ask me is; the building in which Billboards occurs the basement was recently sold for a reportedly $39.5 million,” details Young, “does this now mean that Billboards will now close because the building they operate in and never owned has been sold? Neither Billboard nor the Palace Theatre own the building in which they operate out of. Both parties have a commercial lease with their Landlord.”
Which means, The Palace has a new landlord who – for the time being – is continuing to let the venue operate as a live music venue. Is that an ironclad certainty that it will stay that way? Time will tell.
It’s worth reiterating that when the venue was first put up for sale it was advertised as a live music space to little interest, once receivers Ferrier Hodgson began angling the space as a prime piece of real estate for property development – a number of Asia developers interested in using it as a “high-density residential project” began to take significant interest.
Fellow live music venue Cherry Bar shed a little light on the venue’s sale in late June, writing on their Facebook page, that although the “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.”
Additionally, 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 if the new owners do look at a decision to demolish its entrance they would have to get legal approval from Heritage Melbourne first.
That, combined with Young’s comments about the venue’s sale, should go some way to 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.
The best thing you can do to support these venues, is turn up and pay to see some shows. As of now, the venue has acts booked right up to January 2013 – with Nightwish’s Australian tour – as well as hosting a series of 90s acts for their Melbourne visits; including Smashmouth, Hanson, Eiffel 65 and Rick ‘-Rolled’ Astley.
Ever wandered down on a Friday evening to catch a beer and some live music only to find your beloved venue has up and disappeared? We take a look over the last two years and the key events that have shaped the state of Australia's live music and its venues. Mostly for the troubles they've faced, with a large number being forced to close down. But it's not all bad news... some have managed to pull through while there's even been new venues that have sprung up. So if you've been wondering "whatever happened to my local music venue?" perhaps we've got the answer. Watch this slideshow »