Melbourne punters fretting over the future of their favourite bayside watering hole can breathe a sigh of relief.
The Espy has finally been given the stamp of approval to proceed with its planned renovations, after Port Phillip Council unanimously voted ‘yes’ to a permit greenlighting works inside and outside the building.
But it’s been a rocky road to get to this point. The iconic live music venue closed its doors all the way back in May – unceremoniously cancelling weeks of scheduled gigs – with the goal of fast-tracking renovations to be able to re-open in time for summer 2015 (i.e. now).
But St Kilda locals have been quick to point out the lack of any building activity whatsoever going on at The Espy site in the months that have followed, viewing it as an ominous sign for the old girl’s future.
But, as we reported last month, it turns out that the owners’ reno plans had been roadblocked by a storm of objections from grumpy neighbours bellyaching over potential increases in noise and drunken douchebaggery that the building upgrades might cause.
And at the centre of the naysayers’ woes was a new 45 square metre rooftop terrace, which has now been given the tick of approval, but with a couple of *buts*.
As The Herald reports, the Espy’s planning permit was approved with the proviso that the venue would abide by a ban on live music in the rooftop area, which must also have its retractable roof closed by 10pm each night.
It’s unclear at this point when the venue might re-open by, but something that punters will be able to draw solace from in the meantime is its recommitment to live music.
Port Phillip Mayor Bernadene Voss said the Espy would continue to play a large part in the St Kilda music scene.
“St Kilda is well known for its live music and the Espy is a big part of that,” she told The Herald.
Meanwhile, Michelle Harrington of the St Kilda Live Music Scene Facebook group – who was present at the Council meeting – has issued an update via social media, echoing the same sentiments.
“The entire conversation from the owners, the council, the planners centred around the live music commitment and the iconic status and how important a healthy Espy is to our whole city and our live music scene,” she said.
“The Espy owners have committed over and over to continue live music – three stages – and after hearing them speak at the review and in meeting them personally afterwards I feel this commitment is genuine.
“There will be changes but I believe as a community we can work through them. This is a happy day for St Kilda Live Music and I think the good news is going to keep rolling in.”
Check out some pics of The Espy’s official planning proposal, which has now been given the go-ahead, courtesy of Espy Appreciation Society Facebook group member Jacqueline Walker, below.
Gallery: The Espy Planning Proposals