Northbridge’s Picabar facing closure after State Government lease battle

Pic. Google/Dave Sarks
Pic. Google/Dave Sarks

PICABAR owners received a letter on Thursday saying they had three weeks to leave the building they lease from the State Government in the heart of the Perth Cultural Centre in Northbridge.

The bustling bar has been running since 2012, with the owners breaking the news to upset staff in the courtyard last week.

Picabar. Picture: picabarperth/Instagram

Co-owner Melissa Bowen said the lease had been month to month for some time, with assurances from the various government departments involved over the life of the bar that a longer term lease would be honoured.

“We heard nothing until we got the letter from PICA last week,” she said.

“We realised we had been gutted.”

Picabar rents their space from PICA, which will be given a new lease from the State Government but the bar area will not be included.

Ms Bowen said they met with representatives from the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) and the Perth Theatre Trust (PTT) on Friday and that the space would be put out for expressions of interest..

“We’re invited to throw our hat in the ring, we obviously will do,” she said.

Ms Bowen said they were offered another few months more in the space while expressions of interest were carried out, which they would do to provide more certainty for their 15 staff members.

“We’ve absolutely worked our guts out and done everything that’s been asked – we’re happy to pay as much as you can possibly get for the space, we’re happy to invest our own money,” she said.

“We’re not asking for a free kick.”

DLGSC director general Duncan Ord said PICA was advised by the Minister for Culture and the Arts earlier this month that their lease would terminate on November 14.

Mr Ord said the building would revert back to the State and leased to the Perth Theatre Trust, with PICA subleasing and expressions of interest for the bar set to open soon.

He denied any assurance was given to the owners that the space would remain theirs to operate.

“PICA’s notice to Lazarus (Picabar) to vacate is a normal part of this transition process as PICA will no longer have control over the bar area,” he said.