ONE of Bendigo’s last remaining nightclubs has been put on the market for the first time in 14 years.
Universal on McCrae Street was listed for sale two weeks ago and agents are confident of finding a buyer to keep the venue open.
It is one of three Bendigo venues that still possesses a 5am licence, and is the last remaining nightclub on the north-side of McCrae Street following the closure of the Black Swan, The Perch and Icon Bar in February last year.
Ray White Real Estate agent Mitch Balnaves said there had already been several inquiries about Universal since it went on the market.
“Given the amount of inquiries we’ve already had, you’d expect it to sell,” he said.
A non-disclosure agreement means the asking price and terms of the lease remain confidential.
The nightclub has been marketed as a “highly profitable 5am entertainment venue”. The building itself, the old Albert Hotel, is not for sale.
The club opened 20 years ago and has become a mainstay of Bendigo’s nightlife, while a number of other nightclubs have opened and closed across the CBD.
Just Universal and Star Bar remain with 5am licences, with other venues on Bull Street offering late-night dance music.
Universal is licensed to hold 500 patrons.
The venue’s multi-floor layout, beer and smoker’s garden and VIP booths are listed as some of its unique selling points.
It was also marketed at owners who might take a more hands-off approach.
“The Universal comes equipped with an experienced manager and an established hardworking team who know the business intimately and who confidently manage the venue in the owner’s absence,” the real estate advertisement reads.
The closure of Black Swan in February 2017 came 14 months after it, too, was placed on the market. The venue had been operating since 2001.
Black Swan, The Perch, Universal and Star Bar had all benefited from the introduction of 2am lockout laws in 2007 following years of late-night violence and vandalism.
But former Black Swan co-owner Alysia Bazzani said the landscape had changed again since then, and “people don’t seem to support live music like they used to”.
Metropolitan Hotel owner Andrew Lethlean has also raised concerns about the difficulties in managing a late-night venue in Bendigo, with many patrons arriving already highly intoxicated or having consumed drugs.
The Universal owner has been contacted for comment.