End of the road: Taxi Club closes its doors
After months of uncertainty and a number of ill-fated attempts at finding a new location or financial backing, Sydney’s landmark LGBT venue the Taxi Club has announced its doors will be closed for the foreseeable future after it was made to vacate the Flinders Street building it has called home for the past 56 years.
An official notice sent by Taxi Club management delivered the sad news to members of the club yesterday.
“We regretfully report that as of Monday morning on the 7th May, 2012, the Taxi Club was forced to close its doors,” the statement read.
“As you are all aware, the past 4-5 years has been an absolute challenging and trying period for our Club.”
The embattled club was set to close in early April after the end of its lease in February following the sale of the building to Oxford Commercial Real Estate in August 2011.
Closure was delayed by a month however when the Paddington Bowling Club offered the possibility of an amalgamation.
“However, one element of this encouraging plan was to ultimately be the catalyst for its undoing. This element being the now owners of our home Club venue, Oxford Commercial Real Estate,” the statement read.
“Despite Oxford having indicated to us some months ago their desire for a long-term lease arrangement, they have now turned away from wanting to continue with us as tenants of the original Taxi Club venue and are proceeding with re-developing the property.”
Michael Marano, director and principal of Oxford Commercial Real Estate, told SX today he was disappointed about the claims.
“We purchased the property in August last year, and the lease we offered to the Taxi Club was only until February this year which they happily signed.
“The disappointment for us was that it was never the case that we offered a long-term lease or went back on plans to do so,” he said.
“We’re not happy about that miscommunication and we don’t want our reputation tarnished. They knew from day one when we negotiated the purchase of the building what our intentions were.”
The Taxi Club, known for its drag shows and welcoming atmosphere to the trans community, had struggled for a number of years following the temporary closure of its nightclub after the loss of the club’s entertainment license in 2006 as well as from a host of poorly controlled building works.
Other factors contributing to its poor financial performance were the indoor smoking legislation that reduced its gaming revenue, as well as recent changes made to the poker machine tax, which is higher for registered clubs.
Works will now commence from June to re-develop the building into commercial office spaces.
Taxi Club general manager Michelle Mancini told SX she did not wish to blame anyone for the situation.
“We are not the victims of the real estate. We simply couldn’t give them a definite answer on our future so they decided to go with the refurbishment of the building which they have every right to do,” she said.
“We are currently exploring every possible avenue and other locations to see whether there is another club willing to amalgamate.”
An upset Mancini said she only had praise for the staff and board of the club as well as the support it had received from many within the community in trying times.
“It’s a terrible situation as it is an icon,” she said.
“The ‘Taxi’ was a truly unique venue where many members of our diverse community felt not only safe but accepted.
“This is why all efforts are being made to ensure the name of the Taxi Club and what it stands for will continue somewhere, somehow.”