Canterbury Leagues Club is set to be revamped with a $100 million project to transform it into a six-star hotel. Photo: Jon Reid Canterbury chairman George Peponis prides his board on serving rugby league and the Canterbury-Bankstown community. Photo: Robert Pearce
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Canterbury Leagues Club has received the government’s go-ahead for a $100 million project to transform its premises at Belmore into a six-star hotel and create new revenue streams that should guarantee the financial security and strength of the Bulldogs.
Ironically, the state government’s Joint Regional Planning Panel granted its permission to Canterbury on Wednesday, the same day an independent planning authority rejected the proposal for a high-rise building on the old Balmain Tigers site at Rozelle because it deemed the traffic and transport issues were so “unresolvable” it was not in the public interest.
Canterbury will now start the tender process for the ambitious project. It is understood the redevelopment will involve:Changing the club’s current L-shaped structure into a “U”;Constructing a new wing, which would include a six-star hotel, the only such hotel in the city’s south-west;Refurbishment of existing facilities;Allocating $20 million to dig for five underground levels to accommodate 400 new car spaces;Building a 1000-seat function/conference centre.
Insiders say Canterbury’s ultimate aim was to follow the plan of Rozelle Village Pty Ltd – the property developer that bought the Balmain site in 2009 for $1 in exchange for absorbing the club’s $23.5 million debt – and construct twin towers that would consist of up to 400 residential apartments, many of which would offer sweeping views of Sydney’s skyline.
The development is expected to consist of three stages. Stage one is the car park, where the cost of each space is calculated at $20,000. The refurbishment of the Leagues Club amenities and construction of the conference/function centre is identified as the second phase, and the final stage will be the hotel complex.
The club board, which includes former Bulldogs greats George Peponis (chairman) and Steve Mortimer, has long prided itself on honouring the 1956 charter – to serve the local rugby league and to contribute to the Canterbury Bankstown community.
Peponis could not be contacted for comment on Thursday.
Details of the master-plan were discussed at the club’s annual meeting last month but were kept off the radar until the government gave the green light.
Canterbury Leagues Club was formed in 1956 and operated out of an old Salvation Army Hall. It relocated to Bridge Street in 1960 and quickly became a veritable gold mine because of its poker machines and entertainment. In the 1990s, it was regarded as one of the nation’s most progressive clubs, and it has invested millions of dollars over the past 14 years to build on that reputation.
In 2000, the club spent $36 million to redevelop the venue, and it is regarded as a badge of honour by the board that the debt was fully paid off 12 years later.