The Croatian Club, new owners of the vacant Concord RSL which it purchased from RSL NSW for $8.55m last year, has revealed plans for a revamped site on the eve of ANZAC Day and includes gaming areas, alfresco dining with rotisserie and children’s play area. Word is that The Croatian Club will also be rebranded, moving away from its “ethnic” origins with the new club design by Altis Architecture inspired by Justin Hemmes’ Merivale hospitality fitouts and rumoured to include a large beer garden.
The Croatian Club has already had its half-yearly meeting and members have agreed in principle to the initial design with a Development Application expected to be submitted to the City of Canada Bay in June.
The proposed facilities include:
- Flexible multi-function areas to cater for up to 350 people
- A commercial kitchen
- Main bar
- Gaming area for 40 EGMs
- External alfresco area with rotisserie
- Bocce field
- Artificial football field
- Administration offices
- Storerooms for community groups and
- Children’s play equipment.
The RSL NSW Board made the decision to divest the Concord RSL Club premises and land at Nullawarra Ave, Concord West after the premises was vacated in 2019 when Concord RSL Club ceased trading.
While RSL NSW was not legally connected with the Concord RSL Club it had been paying annual holding costs on the vacant property. Despite local objections to the sale and a bid for it to be added to adjacent green space, the property, valued at $3.3m in June 2020, was eventually sold to the Croatian Club for $8.55m.
Mounties had kept the club afloat and had initially proposed a plan to build more than 100 apartments for over-55s but pulled out in 2018, and the RSL Club eventually went into liquidation.
The sale was controversial because the land had been transferred by Concord Golf Club to the now-defunct Concord Council in 1955 under a covenant stating it was only to be used for “public recreation generally”.
In 1963 it was transferred to Concord District RSL Sub Branch under a covenant that stated the site was only to be used for a registered club and other associated recreational uses.
The Croatian Club Ltd said at the time of its purchase that it was committed to reinstating the ANZAC memorial and would continue honouring traditions such as the Dawn Service and supporting the nearby National Centre for Veterans’ Health at Concord Hospital.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for not only the Croatian Community but an opportunity for the locals of Canada Bay local council area to experience Croatian Culture,” Hrvatsko Društvo Sydney told the local press. The club posted low-resolution images of plans by club specialist Altis Architecture to its Facebook on the eve of ANZAC Day.
To celebrate their relocation and the purchase, Hrvatsko Drustvo Sydney invited all members and the Croatian Community for a blessing by Fr. Davor Filko and a flag-raising ceremony in December last year.
As a charity, RSL NSW said it had a duty of care to ensure that optimal value was achieved from the sale so that it can continue to support and provide services to veterans and their families.
As per its 2021-2026 Strategic Plan, the proceeds of the sale will be invested by RSL NSW under the new aggregated investment model and the investment returns will be utilised for the Veteran Support Fund.
The Sydney Croatian Club or Hrvatsko Društvo Sydney was founded in 1951 by Croatian immigrants and started in a church hall in Maroubra Junction in the 1950s, then moved to Surry Hills in 1951. The club then moved to Marrickville in 1972 and in 1982 it purchased the old Sundowner Hotel in Punchbowl. After a fire, a new club premise was built and officially opened by then-premier Bob Carr in 1998.