It’s 9.30am on Thursday, and my Facebook feed is already going bonkers. The rumour mill has started churning, and a few people have suggested riots. But nobody knows what’s going on. It’s all speculation at this point, as it has been in the past.
The Phoenix has been an institution in Canberra’s live music scene for as long as I can remember, so it’s understandable that everyone has lost their minds since last night, when the photos of “the letter” surfaced on Facebook. Ever since the Sydney Building fire in 2014, The Phoenix has been a concern for so many of us involved in the music scene. We came around, and learnt to love the new Phoenix for what it was, but little did we know, there was work going on under our noses, until earlier this year, when our beloved pub knocked a hole in the brick wall, and let us back into the “old Phoenix” (or at least the front bit) to remember what it used to be. But, here’s where it’s turned sour …
What’s this all about then?
On Wednesday 29 March, LJ Hooker Commercial posted in the front window of the old Phoenix, a “Notice of Termination,” which means that the Lessor has taken possession of the premises.
Stephen Royds (the property manager at LJ Hooker Commercial) has been quoted as saying “The owner of 23-25 East Row has terminated the Lease due to works conducted by the tenant (opening up the wall) causing the building to be non-compliant with the current fire regulations.”
It’s not hard to work out that this means there’s an issue with the (absence of a) fire door between the new and old Phoenix rooms, and while I’m no door expert (actually I am), the time taken to custom build a fire door and framework is longer than the time allowed in a notice to remedy breach, so you can do the math on how they came to change the locks …
So, when can we go back for a beer?
“There’s so much we want to say but can’t because of the legalities going on,” is the official response, so at this point, it’s not 100 percent certain.
If the wall is bricked back up, the old Phoenix side will be back out of the equation as far as fire regulations (and landlords) go, and if all goes to plan, “it will be sooner rather than later”.
What this means for all of the renovation work that’s been done remains unclear, and despite the rooftop garden/food court plan that’s been floating around, The Phoenix says, “the Pub’s not going anywhere!”
Word on the street is that the keys will be returned in the next few days.
Although, “mass trespass sounds like a good idea,” says passionate Phoenix supporter Phoebe, the eternal activist, we’re just gonna have to wait a little longer for the pub and associated fire codes to be sorted. At this stage, it looks like it will open again soon, but they’ve, “gotta make sure people are safe.”
Thank f*@$! But how can we help this to not happen again? Or to any other venues?
Support the venues that support you. It’s literally that simple.
The only way they can afford to keep their doors open is your patronage. Last year was the first year since I can remember where The Phoenix has had to stay open over Christmas and New Year’s to pay the bills. I’ve already ranted about people saying “nothing happens in Canberra” here, so let’s not let that happen again, COME TO THE SHOWS!
Yeah, so people are concerned, and I’ve heard some people are meeting in solidarity and support of the pub. Call it a peaceful protest if you will, but there will be acoustic music going down on the streets. Phoenix Rising: An Acoustic Evening For The Love Of The Phoeno
Don’t forget to be good to each other, ya legends!