Corrimal Leagues Club will be demolished to make way for an apartment complex following a sale that has caught staff and long-term patrons off-guard.
The club closed without warning on Tuesday morning, ending at least a decade of financial turmoil.
The unidentified buyer is understood to have inherited an active development application, approved in 2011, that allows for 60 apartments and six villas to be built on site.
In a statement to members, club owners the Aster Group blamed the venue’s poor recent performance for the closure.
“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, Corrimal Leagues Club has not performed as anticipated and so the sale represents a difficult but necessary business decision for the wellbeing of our portfolio as a whole.”
Speaking to the Mercury, Aster Group CEO Daniel Munk cited the abundance of clubs, pubs and other hospitality venues in Wollongong’s northern suburbs as a contributor to the club’s downfall.
“Since the club was created 60 years ago the market has changed very significantly and in many ways there’s probably more options than there really should be for the market to support,” he said.
“The northern suburbs was a difficult market.”
The introduction of anti-smoking laws in 2007 compounded money problems at the Railway Street venue and in 2008 it reported a $629,000 annual loss.
It was placed in the hands of administrators in February 2009, with debts of $5 million.
In 2010 the site was sold to a developer, before the club was amalgamated into the Aster Group in 2013, alongside Wests Ilawarra, Port Kembla Golf Club and the since-sold Comfort Inn-Fairways at Primbee, in a portfolio worth $40 million.
The Aster Group went on to buy the land the club sits on in 2014, for $4.6 million.
According to Mr Munk the venue employs 6-8 staff, and others who divide their working hours between the amalgamated venues.
The group has offered all displaced staff roles at its other venues.
Aster Group will retain licenses for 70 poker machines, which can be on-sold or moved into its other venues.