Over 6,000 people have signed a petition to stop the closure of The Green Park Hotel, a much-loved, historic LGBTIQ pub in Darlinghurst, Sydney.
The 130-year-old pub has announced last drinks are this weekend. St Vincent’s Hospital purchased the hotel in November to transform it into a community mental health clinic next year.
Local Gus Murray has now started the Change.org petition calling for the preservation of the “unique cultural institution”.
Murray described the Green Park Hotel “as a refuge for locals, LGBTQI people, single people, hospital workers and everyone under the sun.”
“It is where we gather to celebrate, commiserate and connect with friends old and new,” Murray said.
“Sydney’s essential, welcoming and diverse village is at risk of dying.
“It’s urgent but it’s not too late to ask St Vincent’s to delay its plans while it hears from the community and gives a fair opportunity for another hospitality group to potentially buy it.”
Murray urged St Vincent’s to “listen to the community and find one of the many nearby empty venues to host their own, equally important, mental health drop-in centre.”
“As LGBTQI people know, mental health services are extremely important,” Murray said.
“Places to connect and feel supported and have life-saving conversations with people who understand us and prevent loneliness and isolation.
“That’s precisely what the Green Park is to us.”
Darlinghurst pub is ‘cultural hub’ for LGBTIQ community
Local MP Alex Greenwich has also sent a letter to St Vincent’s requesting they reconsider their plans for the venue.
“The Green Park has been an important neighbourhood establishment for over a century,” Greenwich’s letter read.
“[The venue is] a cultural hub for LGBTQI communities to whom it has provided a safe, accepting and fun space.
Greenwich said “social and public places for our community to congregate are diminishing in the face of development pressure.”
“I greatly appreciate and respect St Vincent’s long history of support, care and services to the LGBTIQ community, from the AIDS crisis to the many services and programs provided today,” he wrote.
However the MP also asks that the hospital “not proceed with the purchase of the Green Park Hotel and instead work to retain it as a much-loved local pub.”
City of Sydney councillor Christine Forster earlier described St Vincent’s plans as “shocking”.
“St Vincent’s does fabulous work and mental health facilities are more important than ever,” she tweeted.
“But surely with so much empty commercial real estate in the area an alternative site could be found and this historic pub could be preserved?”
Green Park Hotel team say last drinks this weekend
Late last month, St Vincent’s Hospital bought The Green Park Hotel from hospitality group Solotel after 30 years of ownership.
St Vincent’s confirmed at the time they would not extend the hotel’s liquor and gaming licenses.
St Vincent’s Health Network Chief Executive Anthony Schembri said the site will become stvincent’s@greenpark.
It will house community mental health outreach services, including a drop-in centre and arts programmes, while maintaining some elements of the local pub.
“The Green Park is rightly regarded as a fine example of Federation architecture, built in 1893, when the area was predominately working class,” he explained in November.
“In more recent decades, it has become regarded as a particularly inclusive watering hole, especially for our LGBTQI community.
“We are therefore mindful that the site has long held a special place in the hearts of many Darlinghurst locals.
“We will ensure we preserve the building’s heritage and acknowledge its historical legacy.”
In a letter, the Green Park Team thanked loyal patrons for their years of love and support. They will pour last drinks this Sunday (December 20).
“We have received so much support over the years from our much loved guests and the Greeny family. It’s meant the world to us,” they said.
“To each and every one of you, we say thank you for making the Greeny all that it was.”