The unrelenting grind of gentrification is a threat to live music venues all over Melbourne and gems like the Esplanade Hotel, St Kilda - aka the Espy - are particularly endangered. The Espy, legendary music incubator and much loved drinking hole, has been the subject of heated tussles between developers, council and locals for decades and there's no reason to think this won't continue. The hotel closed in May 2015 with an announcement for extensive renovations (SMH 4/5/15) but almost nothing happened in the following 2 years except a vague - and unfounded - claim that locals were holding up the planning permit process. So, what's going on?
As you've heard by now, the Espy was sold by Vince Sofo + Paul Adamo in March 2017 and purchased by the Sand Hill Road hospitality group. SHR are currently in the throes of re-renovating the part renovations started by the previous owners and plan to re-open the grand old dame in October 2018. They've made all the right noises about the importance of the Espy as a live music venue and seem to understand what they've bought. Could they be the right custodians to take the Espy into the future? Fingers crossed.
LATEST NEWS ON THE ESPY
05 May 2015 | Closed for Renovations
Announcement that the Espy would be closing down from 17 May and back "shortly" after extensive renovations.
Read Sydney Morning Herald article HERE
Read Herald Sun article
17 Feb 2014 | Espy for Sale
The Herald Sun reports that the Espy is on the market for a speculated $5 million plus. The Australian says it is only the pub business for sale, not the freehold title of the Espy building & site.
Read Sydney Morning Herald report HERE
Read Music Feeds report HERE
Read The Australian report HERE
The Previous Epic Battle
The most recent major stoush in the early 2000s saw local community group, the Esplanade Alliance - of which we were members - do battle with the Becton Corporation. Detailed & extensive archives of the epic 7 year campaign are kept by the St Kilda Historical Society. For a potted history of the Espy and the campaign have a look HERE.
For a more comprehensive account, check out Krystyna Kynst's wonderful new book "The Espy Campaign 1997 – 2003". It's available for free - you heard me - FREE on The St Kilda Historical Society‘s website and on iTunes.