The Esplanade Hotel in St. Kilda is set to be sold this week with plans to reopen the iconic venue, live music and all. This is welcome news for Melburnians who are still coming to terms with the possibility of losing the Palace Theatre in the CBD to foreign developers.
The Espy, with it’s incredible view of the St. Kilda foreshore, has hosted a countless number of established and emerging artists over the years and has significantly contributed to Melbourne’s reputation as a hub for live music and entertainment.
According to The Age the new owners of The Espy are committed to retaining the integrity of the 139 year old venue, including maintaining its role as a live-music bastion. The new owners are also preparing for a major renovation of the premises. What impact this has on the site is currently unknown outside of a sizable beer garden near the main entrance.
Past owners of The Espy have tried to capitalise on the site as much as possible. In 1997 the venue was sold to Becton Group who proposed a 35 storey tower behind the venue. This tower was categorically opposed by local residents and fans of the venue, resulting in the proposal being significantly scaled back. The current owners, who closed the hotel in 2015, were intending to build a 145 square metre rooftop terrace. This proposal was also shot down by local residents who were concerned with late night noise.
The venue’s new owners, Sand Hill Road, own a number of significant pubs including Richmond’s Terminus hotel, Prahran Hotel, and Garden Stage Hotel in the CBD.