One of Melbourne’s most iconic live music venues is up for sale.

The Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda, best known as the legendary Espy to its legion of music-loving punters, has been onto the property market with expressions of interest for the rock institution closing in a month.

The venue, which sits just opposite the beachy St Kilda foreshore, is listed for sale through Jones Lang LaSalle, with the listing advertising it as a “rare opportunity to acquire the business of this landmark property.”

Along with highlighting the 1,729sqm venue’s 3am liquor license and 1,752 patron capacity, the property listing also advertises the pub’s potential for “multiple revenue streams” from its bar, functions, live performances, kitchen, bottle shop and venue hire, as well as “significant upside potential through future business development of roof top courtyard, bars, function rooms etc.”

A long-term lease is being offered to the successful bidder for The Espy, with no exact price listed, but expressions of interest for its purchase closes at 12 midday on Thursday 20th March (if not sold prior).  …the listing advertises it as a “rare opportunity to acquire the business of this landmark property.

“This makes me VERY nervous” said fellow live music venue operator James Young, of Melbourne’s Cherry Bar, in a Facebook post pointing towards an article from The Australian on the sale of the Espy. “In my opinion, no venue in Australia puts on more local live music than The Espy in St Kilda,” writes Young.

The “continuously longest-running live music venue in Australia”, The Espy’s current owners – Elisa Sofo as listed in company documents – are reportedly interested in retaining the freehold title to the live music venue, which has been the subject of several attempted relaunches in the last 15 years.

The venue was purchased back in 2001 by Vince Sofo and Paul Adamo (previous title holders of the Chevron nightclub) from the Becton Group, and has undergone extensive renovations to its ‘back of house’ since then.

As the venue’s own website points out, The Espy is a cultural icon with a long standing tradition of live music, “on an average week the pub plays host to over 50 bands and DJs across 3 stages 7 days a week.”

The future status of the iconic Melbourne hotel as a live music venue is purely up to whomever the new owners are.

The news of the Espy’s sale arrives one week on from reports of another iconic Melbourne venue, The Palace Theatre on Bourke Street, coming under threat from property developers once again.

Despite the Planning Minister’s office rejecting plans to raze the live music venue in favour of the construction of a luxury apartment complex, the hotel’s developers have submitted new plans for a scaled back application that bypasses the Planning Minister Matthew Guy’s approval and goes direct to City of Melbourne for consideration.

The venue shakeups happening against a backdrop of new live music reforms that aim to protect and secure venues by cutting back legislative red tape, while the coveted ‘Agent of Change’ principle that will ‘fix’ noise complaint issues for inner-city venues is till to be implemented.

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