The team behind Woolshed in Melbourne’s Docklands has announced that the business will no longer operate after a forced closure of the Central Pier by Development Victoria.

The eight businesses housed on the Central Pier development in Docklands were given little warning when they were evacuated in late August for safety concerns. They were told that the pier was in need of urgent repairs that would take one month. But a fortnight ago, on the deadline, the tenants – including Woolshed – were told that Central Pier would be closed until at least January. The business – mainly in hospitality – would miss out on the vital holiday trading period.

Duncan Laidlaw, general manager of Woolshed, told the Seven Network at the time that the loss would be in the millions for the business.

“It’s obviously going to be devastating for us in the long term.”

That statement has come to fruition a lot sooner than expected, with the Woolshed team on Thursday announcing that its business was no longer viable and that it would be closing. The statement reads:

“To our valued customers,

“Its with heavy heart that this is a farewell post from our dedicated management team at the Woolshed.

“With the continue[d] closure of Central pier including our beloved Woolshed it was simply not sustainable to be able to continue employing our team with no income coming into the business.

“Our amazing clients, suppliers and family of the Woolshed who know us know how much of a dedicated bunch we are, the Woolshed was our home, we saw our clients like family not taking for granted anyone who choose to entertain, host events or dine in our restaurant or bar.

“After resurrecting after a devastating Fire in November 2016 we arose from the ashes bigger and better as the “Woolshed” in April 2017. Nothing would have prepared us for the devastation  of being evicted from our home again and having to cancel all the events of our beloved clients and friends in August 2019.

“From all of us at the Woolshed we hope that our paths may cross again, we thank you for your support and Patronage, and wish you all the best from the Woolie family.”

This is the second time the Woolshed has closed down, after a kitchen fire caused much damage to the venue in November 2016. In that instance, the hotel was rebuilt and reopened six months later.

Legal action

The eight tenants of Central Pier — including Woolshed, the head office of functions business The Atlantic Group, and nightclub Alumbra – are intending to sue Development Victoria for $100 million in compensation.

“The Government has just completely side-swiped us, taken our businesses from underneath us and are now leaving us to try and work it out for ourselves,” Atlantic Group’s Hatem Saleh told the Seven Network.

A spokesperson for Development Victoria has said that safety is its priority, but also that the organisation had acted in “good faith”.

“We know how much this affects people’s businesses, jobs and events but the safety of people working on and using the pier has to be our number one priority.”

“A detailed assessment of Central Pier by our engineering consultants is underway on a priority basis.”

“Development Victoria has acted in good faith and in accordance with the terms of the Central Pier lease.  Any legal action will be defended.”

AHA Victoria declined to comment on the situation.

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