Left: Stirred up memories ... a historic shot of drinkers in the pub in 1987. Top: Big and shiny ... an artist’s impression of the development. Bottom: Young revellers ... the hotel must close by January 22. Photo: Robert Pearce


Though development applications for buildings on the gaping six-hectare site have not been approved, the Abercrombie Hotel, formerly called the Australian Hotel, must close its doors on January 22.

Frasers Property Group, which is developing the site, has asked the tenant to leave while it decides the future of the heritage-listed pub.

After its modified concept plan was approved in February, Frasers submitted development applications that are awaiting approval.

A development application has been lodged with the City of Sydney council to build a gallery, park and shops next to the pub, which would be in place for several years.

A separate application for a massive 11- to 15-storey commercial building at the corner of Abercrombie Street and Broadway has been lodged with the Department of Planning as part of the long-term development of the site.

''The hotel will close to facilitate construction of these proposed adjoining structures and streetscape improvements, and to allow for its refurbishment,'' said the chief operating officer of Frasers, Nicholas Wolff. ''Future uses of the Abercrombie Hotel may include a cafe, retail space or continuation as licensed premises.''

Construction is planned to begin next year.

News of the closure has stirred memories from music fans and locals who frequent the historic hotel.

The pub was built in 1938 to serve the huge number of labourers from the brewery and other factories in the former industrial neighbourhood.

Despite the slow gentrification of Chippendale, the pub retained its grungy atmosphere and huge crowds of young revellers could be seen queueing there every Friday for the alternative music night, ''Purple Sneakers''.

Ben Byrne, a musician and PhD student at the University of Technology, co-organised experimental music nights at the Abercrombie five years ago.

''The significance of the Abercrombie has been as a live music venue and it should be recognised as that and not just a pub in any new plans,'' he said.

A Facebook group called ''Save the Abercrombie Hotel'' has been set up and had attracted 385 members by yesterday afternoon. ''This was truely [sic] a pub with an atmosphere and life better than most,'' wrote one fan.

The Frasers Property Group, of Singapore, purchased the site in June 2007 after a deal with Australand collapsed in 2005.

Frasers has no plans to close the Clare Hotel, another grungy pub which sits at the northern corner of the site.

Source: www.smh.com.au/national/its-last-drinks-at-the-abercrombie-and-punters-raise-a-toast-20091118-imjz.html