Music

Here’s a sad photo of what a Palace-free Melbourne will look like

The Melbourne Heritage Action Group have obtained a concerning photo of what the top end of Bourke Street might look like without The Palace Theatre. The photo depicts the luxury W Hotel and apartments in place of the historic theatre, which has hosted live music since 2007.

According to the Heritage Action Group’s Facebook page, the proposed development would also see the three-storey building next door demolished so an adjoining laneway could be widened for a taxi drop-off point.

Proposed development

Current precinct

As previously reported, a proposal has been put to the Department of Planning to have the venue demolished and replaced by a 30-storey building, housing the 205-room W Hotel and 145 apartments. The news has since sparked outrage in Melbourne’s live music community, with nearly 29,000 people joining a “”Save the Palace Theatre Facebook page and 24,000 signing an online petition. A rally is also planned for August 31 in Melbourne’s CBD.

Previously known as The Metro, The Palace has hosted memorable gigs from the likes of Nick Cave, Queens Of The Stone Age, My Morning Jacket, Arctic Monkeys, Flaming Lips, My Bloody Valentine and Girl Talk. The Palace’s proposed demolition would leave a huge gap for 2000 capacity standing room venues in Melbourne. Capped at 1850 patrons, the only other comparable venues are the nearby Billboard (1050), The Forum Theatre (1500) and The Palais in St Kilda (2896).

“Promoters would have to look at downsizing to The Forum, which is already heavily booked with other events such as the comedy and film festival, moving to the Palais Theatre, which has no standing area, or upsizing to Festival Hall,” Music Victoria CEO Patrick Donovan told FL last month.

HOW WILL MELBOURNE COPE WITHOUT THE PALACE?

While the writing has been on the wall for the venue since it was purchased by the Jinshan Investments group last year, The Palace has earned a temporary reprieve with Victoria’s Planning Minister Matthew Guy saying he would not approve a development at the proposed 31-storey height. “The developer is dreaming if he thinks the government is going to approve this in the form in which it has been submitted,” he told ABC News last month. “It is too tall, it is in the wrong location.”

The minister’s office declined to comment further when contacted by FL.

The Palace timeline:

1912: The Palace opened as Brennans Amphitheatre but only lasted under that name for just a week before new management took over to run the theatre as The National.

1916: Adopted the name The Palace for the first time.

1929: Converted into a cinema under the name The New Palace.

1934: Renamed The Apollo.

1940: Renamed The St James.

1951: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer took over the cinema and renamed it Metro Burke St.

1971-72: Thirty-nine week season of the musical Hair.

1974: Returns to Palace name.

1980: Sold and set for demolition before being saved by the Melbourne revivalist church.

1987: Reopens as the Metro nightclub after a multimillion dollar refurbishment.

2007: Property developer Jerry Pilarinos shifted his Palace Entertainment Complex from St Kilda to Bourke Street. Pilarinos battled the State Government for two years to keep the venue in St Kilda, but he was driven out before the venue burned down.