Possible new tenant for historic central Bendigo building

A historic hotel in central Bendigo looks set for a new tenant, halting an alarming trend of businesses exiting the CBD over the past 12 months. 

Five months after its sudden closure, the City Family Hotel building on High Street is the subject of renewed interest.

And while the hotel’s closure was shrouded in mystery, so too is the business plan of the prospective tenant. 

Lawyers acting on behalf of the applicant – Goldfield Cycle Sports Inc – have lodged an application with the City of Greater Bendigo to vary the existing licence on the site from a late night liquor licence to a full club liquor licence. 

The application states the venue will be used as a ‘club’ and that the applicant will employ appropriate security during peak business hours, in addition to becoming a signatory of the Bendigo liquor accord.

Both the applicant’s lawyers and the City of Greater Bendigo were contacted to clarify the nature of the club, but the law firm did not respond before deadline and the council could not confirm any other details.

The City Family Hotel had a permit and entitlements for 39 electronic gaming machines at the venue but in September sold those entitlements to two separate venues – one in Footscray, another in Geelong – for $300,000. 

Patrons lost a total of $3,022,753.82 at the hotel in the 2016-17 financial year.

Interest in the historic building is a fillip for the central business district, which has been the subject of a exodus of small to medium-sized businesses over the past 12 months.

Jewellery chain Thomas Jewellers announced in October it will close all stores, including its store in Bendigo, while a number of smaller shops have moved on from the area.

Meanwhile, another iconic CBD late night venue, the Black Swan, closed its doors in February after 17 years, with the owners suggesting an evolving social scene had forced their hand. 

“People don’t seem to support live music like they used to,” co-licensee Alysia Bazzani said at the time.