Williamstown RSL members have voted to redevelop the club into a five-storey apartment block with retail on the ground floor and smaller facilities for the club itself.
As reported by Star Weekly, RSL Victoria gave the sub-branch the option to redevelop or close as the latter struggles to repay a $2.6 million – $2.8million debt.
Major General David McLachlan, the RSL state president, said Williamstown members last Wednesday voted to appoint a committee at its extraordinary general meeting in the second week of September.
A motion passed by members states the committee will work with the state branch and the preferred developer to ensure the footprint of the new Williamstown RSL is in the best interests of the sub-branch and its members.
Rob Rowe, a Williamstown RSL life member and president of the Way Out West Roots Music Club, located within the RSL premises, said there was talk of having an RSL club on the second floor and pokies downstairs.
Mr Rowe said Grocon appeared to be the preferred developer and members had been shown four concept designs.
“We wanted to have a decent say in what the final footprint of the RSL is going to be, to make sure that our community groups and all that are looked after,” he said.
“Grocon are pretty OK with that. They said there’s lots of possibilities, even for Way Out West.
“I was speaking to the Grocon guy saying, ‘God, you can’t have entertainment where there’s residents’.
“But he was quite positive in that they’ve had input into the Prince of Wales and The Espy in St Kilda, where they know they’re building a band room that’s going to have residents there and they’re able to make them soundproof pretty much.
“The only reason Grocon want to be involved is because they believe in what the RSL does.
“In reality, it’s not the sort of development they do; it’s too small for them.”
The Williamstown sub-branch, which is about 95 years old, has more than 1000 members and directly and indirectly employs about 35 people.
During development, Williamstown members will use the Spotswood/Kingsville sub-branch facilities.