In news that’s bound to come as a knife through the guts of live music advocates everywhere, Melbourne’s century-old live music venue The Palace Theatre is set to be reopened as a shop.
Fairfax reports that the building is set to be stripped to make way for new retail space.
Site owners Jinshan Investments reportedly got official clearance yesterday to refurbish the front of the beloved venue, while retaining a part of the theatre’s facade, as a stoush over its full-scale demolition continues to unfold.
It was previously reported that Jinshan were plotting to turn the formerly glorious concert hall into a boutique hotel, but now it seems the old girl is – either as well, or instead – set to be transformed into a regular five-and-dime or emporium of some sort, peddling material goods such as clothing, homewares or nipple clamps (unconfirmed). Either way, it blows chunks.
As part of the new retail-based masterplan, Jinshan has raised their original blueprint from 7 storeys to 12, as outlined in their newest submission to the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal.
And as a group of noble men and women continue to hold out hope of saving The Palace as a venue after its cache of historical music memorabilia was sold off at market, debate continues to rage over the fate of historical artefacts still inside the crumbling building.
Anger was sparked last year after construction workers controversially stripped centuries-old interiors from the venue, without a permit, and there are fears that it’s happening again.
A Melbourne City Council spokesperson told Fairfax that enforcement officers were called in this week to “investigate reports of skips of material being removed from the building”, but they were “unable to obtain sufficient evidence to then seek entry to the premises”.
An independent heritage previously ruled that the internal trauma was too extensive to deem the venue worth saving anymore. However, Save the Palace Theatre spokeswoman Rebecca Leslie says she’s still worried about the fate of a 100-year marble staircase and the theatre’s balconies.
“I would hope the building surveyor didn’t give them approval to be removing and altering stuff on the inside that is a bone of contention with the heritage review at the moment,” she says.
We’ll bring you more information as it develops.
Gallery: The Palace Theatre Internal Damage