The $30 million development application promises a “vibrant, experimental, expressive, playful, fun, creative, connected and diverse” set of entertainment offerings. It includes a basement “speakeasy cocktail bar”, an underground venue and nightclub for up to 250 guests and an upstairs performance venue that seats about 440, as well as a restaurant, bar and the hotel.
However, before the DA was lodged, Arts Minister Don Harwin trashed the proposal and argued the building should instead be restored as a 1000-seat theatre. The developer had commissioned a study from advisory firm Arup that found a 1000-seat theatre was not feasible “in a code compliant way or that will provide a positive audience experience”.
Brandon Martignago, chairman of the Potts Point Partnership community group and operator of the nearby Dulcie’s cocktail bar, backed the Piccadilly Hotel and Bourbon redevelopments but said the Metro Minerva proposal was ill thought-out.
“Sydney desperately needs a cabaret room, but Sydney probably can’t sustain a 400-500 seat cabaret room, and cabaret artists probably don’t want that,” he said. “I just think that that’s going to fail … it will be a jack of all trades and master of nothing.”
Mr Martignago supports a 1000-seat theatre and said the government should acquire the building for that purpose. “There are only so many hotels we can have. There isn’t a reason to stay here at the moment, other than Macleay Street. We need to have a drawcard.”