Save The Phoenix

$50,180 of $75,000 goal

Raised by 555 people in 4 months
Friends of The Phoenix,

We’re broke, we’re broken but we’re battling and we’re not giving in.

The short form of this story is that the great expenses and continually shifting goal posts of operational expectation due to the Sydney Building Fire in 2014 have led us to a point of debt that we won’t be able to make it back from.

After 25 years of passion and pride in creating somewhere the outsiders, misfits, weirdos and wonderful people of Canberra could call home… We’re at a point at which our lease will be terminated and our bar will close without your help.

After over 10,000 shows and over 15,000 bands.

The Phoenix will cease to exist within weeks without you.

We owe $75,000 in debt to our suppliers, current landlord and lawyers.

An additional $75,000+ would help us revitalise the current venue, with a view to daytime trade and increasing of capacity to keep the property a long term viable live music venue and pub.

But we are determined to not let this be the end.

We are asking our beautiful community past, present and future (think of the children of you lot) to come together and give us the crutch we need to stand up again and show these bureaucrats that The Phoenix is more than just another tenant. We are a proud community at the heart of the Canberra creative community and we will keep that heart beating.

We’ll be continually updating this Gofundme and the rewards available.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank-you, we wouldn’t be here without you and we won’t go forward without you either.


For those looking for more details on what has happened and what has brought us to this point please find the whole story detailed below:

As you may be aware the pub’s future is currently one of uncertainty. So, we’d like to take the opportunity to explain the problems that we as a business and community have faced, and will be confronting over the next short while.

If you cast your mind back to a time before the East Row fire you may remember the Phoenix’s original building location; a den of music and hedonism unequalled in Canberra. The pub was doing well, so well that it had to expand. 

And so it did; the business doubled in size and acquired the lease for space which had housed the venue formerly known as Murphy’s Shooters.

And for a time things were good, with two bars and a pool table the pub was on track for making record revenue for the year.

However in February 2014 a fire in the Sydney Building originating in Coo restaurant devastated many of the businesses on East Row. Fortunately for the Phoenix it survived the fire and the damage to our site from smoke and water was minor. 

The expectation of the insurers was that we’d be trading again in 3 months. Unfortunately, LJ Hooker did not tell us the landlord of the original site was uninsured – we were told on the day of the fire but assured that the damage would be rectified for us to trade again.

Fast forward to January 2015; Canberra experienced a significant amount of rainfall within 48 hours which led to water damage to The Phoenix as the roof had not been properly secured with tarpaulins. 

Following the water damage in January, the premises were completely gutted by L J Hooker’s repair contractor without our consultation – they removed our kegroom, historical bar, ceiling, kitchen sink… everything. 

Work was meant to restore to the site to a working state but in reality left the building without:

· airconditioning;
· sealed floor;
· ceiling;
· bar;
· kegroom;
· plumbing;
· facade painted to heritage council requirements;
· access ramps to entrances;
· external lighting to front of business;
· toilets that met current specifications;
· internal partition sectioning the premises into stage and 
bar areas; and
· sufficient electrics.

LJ Hooker, acting on behalf of the landlord, then asked us to restore the site to make it possible to trade, due to the lack of insurance and ready funds to cover the repairs needed, or the site would be repurposed at the end of the standing lease. 

Left with little option, we made the following modifications to the premises:

· replaced the bar and all associated plumbing and 
· properly secured the installed air conditioning and 
finished off its drain line;
· replaced the partition which sectioned the space into 
halves as per original lease. (including adding a lockable 
doorway in order to seal off the unusable section of the 
· sealed and secured all floorboards in front section;
· installed a keg room and associated plumbing and lines; 
· painted base walls.

This work cost the pub approximately $250,000.

Despite a Certificate of Occupancy being issued (for the base build only - rather than to Class 6 Tavern standard) and L J Hooker beginning to demand rent, we still needed the following for the premises to be restored under our lease agreement:

· facade of building to be painted and lighting to be 
· access ramps installed to ensure equality of access to 
the premises for all patrons;
· airconditioning installed for the rear half of the premises;
· existing toilets from original lease to be 
refurbished/made compliant with current standards; and
· ceilings to be installed throughout the premises 
(including repair to roof leak in back section).

Working on the previous agreement between landlords and with consent of ACTPLA for both sections of the venue to be joined, we opened the front half of the old site to the public in time for Paddy’s Day in March 2017 and continued to trade until LJ Hooker raised concerns regarding compliance – at which point we reinstated the wall between the venues. 

Throughout the rebuilding program undertaken by the pub we at no stage were given access to the site plans nor formally advised regarding compliance requirements despite multiple requests for this information.

Things got complicated and legal fast. We submitted an application to the ACT Magistrate’s Court in response to a Notice of Termination within the prescribed time, however, LJ Hooker evicted us from the premises nonetheless. 

We continued to pursue a resolution and renewal of our lease but were ultimately unsuccessful – racking up around $100,000 in fees to date.

On 31 July 2017 our lease expired and we had approximately 8 hours to remove everything before LJ Hooker changed the locks. A huge thanks to everyone who helped with that crazy scramble and we can always look back on playing pool in the interchange at 3am with fondness.

As at termination of lease and refusal to renew, LJ Hooker is claiming $200,000 back rent despite the premises not being refit to purpose for trade under the lease and our having spent $250,000 on the building ourselves.

Since the fire we have lost between 4 & 5 million dollars in trade but all we want is to continue with what we have built for the last 25 years; a place where culture and music are enjoyed and where people of all walks of life can interact. We just want to go home.

So, if you want your pub to hang in there, come and have a pint, listen to some music and keep an eye out for our fundraiser … it’s now or never and we’re going to need your help and support to keep The Phoenix alive!

Cheers! x
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$50,180 of $75,000 goal

Raised by 555 people in 4 months
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