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Don't blame the property developers for killing the Annandale Hotel

Update (11am): I knew as soon as I hit 'publish' there'd be a bloody update.

From a media release entitled "Annandale Hotel Saved", published by the Leichhardt Council earlier today...

Leichhardt Council has today received confirmation from the agent responsible for the sale of the hotel that it is set to be sold to a publican, not a residential developer.

But, as Sir Adam Lewis rightfully points out - "pub != venue".

Either way, it's bloody good news. Full/original article as per below...

News clogged up The Internet yesterday, reporting that the Annandale Hotel — which has been in receivership for the past few months — had now been sold. The actual identity of the buyer is still a debated issue though, with initial reports by the Daily Telegraph who — backed by "hotel industry sources" — claiming that it had been sold to a residential developer. However, later in the day, The Music ran a story reporting that the new owner was in fact a publican.

At least in part directed by the order in which this information surfaced, many chose to run with the headline that the hotel had been bought by a developer, keen to knock down the pub and build a large residential development. The standard Us vs Them debate that inevitably spawns from these kind of issues became the focus.

At 7am on Wednesday, May 29 (right now, as I'm writing this) there still seems to be no finalised confirmation on the identity of the new owner. Of course, we all hope that it's someone keen to keep the Annandale Hotel functioning as a live music venue. But, I also think it's important to point out that even if it is destined to become a multi-storey apartment block with "city glimpses" and "cafe precinct living", our anger shouldn't be directed at the property developers.

Instead, we should blame the council and the power they gave a handful of residents with loud voices. Blame those NIMBY assholes. Blame the Land and Environment Court and our costly legal system which sent the hotel owners broke. Blame the bank for foreclosing on the hotel. Blame the short-sighted lawmakers who thought that awarding the pub a 3am license would simply lead to drunken louts clogging up hospital emergency wards. Blame the politicians for arriving too late, the federal and state arts ministers for never stepping in with some sort of funding or protection plan. Blame everyone that didn't Buy-a-Brick, the wealthy members of the music community for not stepping up. Blame us for been critical of their Buy-a-Brick campaign. Blame yourself for not chaining your body to the traffic lights outside the hotel in protest. Blame the plastic schooner glasses, the fact you couldn't roll into the hotel at 1pm on a Saturday afternoon and grab a beer. In a glass made of glass.

Or blame The Madden Boys.


Joel Madden. A success story.

From yesterday's Daily Telegraph article:

In February there was a last-ditch attempt to save the hotel, with retired football player Eric Grothe Jr and the Madden twins from Good Charlotte calling on locals to save the hotel.

In fairness, that paragraph is a little misleading. Eric Grothe Junior has simply been attempting to leverage the current spotlight shine of The Maddens in order to save the hotel. He's been hassling the boys via Twitter (with the assigned #maddendalehotel hashtag) to voice their support of the hotel's cause, thus bring attention to the issue. The most Grothe was gotten in return is Joel Madden replying to a tweet with "nothing better than a good venue".

Media stunts are bloody great, but cash money has a much louder voice.

Good Charlotte album sales to date (according to Wikipedia)...

The Young and the Hopeless - 4.9 million
Chronicles of Life and Death - 2.2 million
Good Morning Revival - 4.5 million

Are you telling me The Maddens couldn't find the (reported) $6 million dollars required to buy the hotel, or even the standard 10% deposit ($600k) to secure the property?

And, are they really asking us (locals) to "save the hotel"? We live in the most over-priced local area property market in the western world [citation required], within the most expensive city on the planet [citation required]. Where the fuck are we gonna get $6 million from?

Hey Maddens, even if you've blown the $20 million we (hard-working, honest Australians) gave you via $3.99 CD singles of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (I did my part and still own 3 of the 4 copies I purchased), then the least you can do is ask your mate/s and/or loved ones.

Joel Madden's wife, Nicole Ritchie, banks 12c (USD) everytime someone says the word "Lionel". La Liga fans single-handedly funded her Malibu condo's recent jacuzzi extensions. Delta Goodrem is well known for her lucrative stock portfolio and offshore drilling projects. SEAL has (reportedly) banked more than a few Klum Kronas after his recent divorce and, on average, Latino Love God, Rickardo Martin, earns $4 million every time he shakes his hips. Ricky, why won't you shake your beautiful pelvic region 1.5 times and Save The Annandale?

So, blame Delta "So Good" Rem or Nicole Ritchie or Lionel Ritchie or Guy Ritchie or Eric Grothe Senior (who played in the Golden Age of Rugby League when players earned much better wages than the struggling heroes of our modern game). But don't blame the investors who could potentially buy the property.

But Polaroids Of Liberal Fat Cat Roids, aren't all property investors just rich, Liberal-voting, fat cats who drive Lexus 450s with personalised number plates that say "GOTCHA"?

No.

You, me and every hard-working stiff who finishes the day with a stiff drink and/or a stiff handshake from their boss telling them they've done "a tops days work" have money invested in property. "Nah, mate, my money is in an ING account, earning that sweet 5.2% introduction rate for one month and that 2.3% rate for all preceding months, which will be subject to a 45% tax rate... I'm coooooool man", I hear you say in a stoner-drawl, not unlike Property Mogul and all-round guitar shredding maniac, Keanu Reeves.

But, your superannuation, that pesky 9% on your payslip which you never see — and I could argue you never will see, considering by the time you're ready to stop working the government defined "retirement age" will be over 70 — is invested. Invested in all sorts of different things. Stocks, shares, bonds, Bonds Underwear, Barry Bonds Start-ups.

And property. Dependent on the direction you move the animated Risk Slider on your chosen superannuation company's iPhone app, your investment portfolio could include a large chunk of money allocated for property developments. Further still, it's more than likely your super is currently being used to buy shares in property development or construction companies whose profits are directly derived from successful investments in residential, industrial or commercial property projects.

Similar projects to what could be the fate of the Annandale Hotel.

It's very rarely a clear-cut case of Us vs Them. It would be easy to hold a simplistic view that the Annandale Hotel will be torn down by a bunch of opportunistic investors who would "flip" their own mothers to make a buck. The truth is, however, that the hotel is primarily in this position because of a variety of different external factors, the details of which we, as outsiders, will probably never be fully aware of. Their fate was sealed long before the call for "expressions of interest" went out. Long before Mayor Byrne's live music precinct plans, long before Joel Madden refused to dig around his couch for some spare change and long before the important break-even points were entered into spreadsheets by investors.

Of course, we'd all love to see the Annandale Hotel remain open, even in a rejuvenated 2013 form of what a music venue is (see: the Newtown Social Club). But I also believe we're all aware of the cold realities associated with these situations and that there's a good chance the hotel will be sold off and knocked down in the near future. If this is the destined outcome, we must take stock. Again. Lessons learnt by councils, lawmakers, politicians, publicans and us, should be used as weapons in similar future issues that will undoubtedly arise. If the unfortunate redevelopment scenario comes to fruition, the role of the Annandale Hotel switches to that of a martyr, not a victim of greed or increasing residential property requirements, but as a testament to the system's failings. We should not lose sight of the fact this whole situation is a direct result of actions by an unsupportive council, our costly legal system, the unbalanced power given to a small group of vexatious neighbours and the lack of government protection awarded to culturally significant live music institutions.

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Annandale Hotel
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