Legendary Sydney live music venue, The Annandale Hotel, has been on public listing for sale for other a month now and the future of the site as a live music venue remains precarious despite the efforts of Leichhardt Mayor Darcy Byrne to ensure its legacy as a live music site.

The Annandale went into receivership in February, and receivers Ferrier Hodgson have been seeking buyers since it was put up for public sale by Knight Frank Real Estate as an “iconic entertainment pub” in a “growth area”. Expressions of interest to purchase the hotel closed on Tuesday, as the Sydney Morning Herald reports, and receivers Ferrier Hodgson who claimed possession from previous owners Matt and Dan Rule, are expected to announce the new owner soon.

It is rumoured that a “well-known owner” of a fellow live music venue in Sydney was the highest bidder, but receivers Ferrier Hodgson Australia had prompted all bidders on the venue to resubmit higher offers. Byrne had contacted Ferrier Hodgson this week asking that all bidders be alerted to Byrne’s desires to keep the venue as a live music hub, as supported by local councils.

With the final sale now imminent, Mayor Byrne has launched an 11th hour push for the iconic venue to be sold to buyers who will continue the Annandale as a live music venue, reaching out to the public for local support and sending an open letter to constituents to place pressure on receivers to ensure the live music venue falls into the right hands.

Both Mayor Byrne’s Leichhardt council and the bordering Marrickville council have unanimously passed resolutions supporting the foundation and development of a live music precinct that runs along Parramatta Road, from Petersham to Sydney University, with Annandale forming the crux of the cultural hub. “It would be a real tragedy if we were unable to save the Annandale Hotel when there such great potential to turn this into a cultual hub…” – Mayor Darcy Byrne

The move for a live music precinct was spearheaded by Mayor Byrne after securing a ‘Good Neighbour Policy’ for the Annandale hotel in February after publicly voicing his concerns over the persecution of live music by local councils as well as the municipal struggles that venues face over noise complaints and red tape.

“I want potential investors to know that the reign of the fun police has come to an end. There’s a new regime at Leichhardt Council and we’re on the verge of creating Sydney’s first live music precinct,” Mayor Darcy Byrne told the SMH. “It would be a real tragedy if we were unable to save the Annandale Hotel when there such great potential to turn this into a cultual hub in the months and years ahead.”

The Leichhardt Mayor also told FasterLouder that the venue was an attractive proposition for venue operators, not developers. “We want music not Meriton, rock-and-roll not residential flats… The money men who have taken over the pub will be focused on profit. I want people to know that with Parramatta Road set be rezoned for live music a concert venue will be the most profitable use of this site.”

Ultimately however, the use of the Annandale is entirely up to its new owner and any decision to curtail its historic legacy as a live music venue is clearly down to the whims of whoever happens to have their name on the lease.

“I’m realistic that the receivers aren’t in this for altruistic purposes, they probably don’t give a damn about live music. But the reason I … want to send a message loud and clear that live music and performance-related businesses will be more viable in the immediate future,” said Mayor Byrne.

Mayor Byrne also wrote an open letter to the public and his council regarding his plea to keep the Annandale rocking. “I understand there are a number of bids in from entrepreneurs who want to keep the Dale as a rock’n’roll venue and we need the money men who have taken over the pub to give them a shot.” “I’m realistic that the receivers aren’t in this for altruistic purposes, they probably don’t give a damn about live music.” – Mayor Darcy Byrne

“Any purchaser of the Annandale who shares our vision of bringing Sydney’s live music scene back to life will have all the support they need to make it happen,” he wrote.

The support of local council is a drastic U-turn from Mayor Byrne’s predecessors, who forced the Annandale’s former owners, the Rule siblings, into a nasty eight year long legal battle with Leichhardt Municipal Council over late-night trading and noise complaints. The legal costs of which spiralled in “excess of 200K… years of lost revenue, hundreds of hours writing counter claim submissions to the liquor board,” wrote Matt Rule in a fiery tirade over the council’s sudden change of heart once he and his brother Dan had been booted from the premises.

Rule wrote how the council put the venue through “unimaginable amounts of stress as we scratched every day to figure out how to pay the bills to keep the doors open [and] who, chose to ignore the fact that throughout all of this we had the support of their own council assessment officers, the local police and 98% of the local residents.”

Mayor Darcy Byrne has made great lengths to amend the issues that forced the Rule brothers into financial turmoil and landing the Annandale into hands of receivers in the first place, but losing the Annandale to owners who care about profit and not culture is potentially disastrous not only to Byrne’s plans for the Parramatta Road live music hub, but also to Sydney’s live music scene.

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