The Rivoli Ballroom up for sale (again)

The Rivoli Ballroom is up for sale for £7.5 million.

Its current owners put it on the market for £10 million back in 2007. That move triggered a campaign to protect it from being turned into flats or a supermarket and it was given Grade II listed status as a result. This planning restriction gave the sellers cause to reconsider and in the years that followed, the Rivoli's fame has grown, as a location for film, television and music, as well as dance, cabaret and parties.

The new, lower price-tag presumably reflects the fact that it will be harder to bulldoze and turn into something more lucrative.

Despite the fact that it can be maddeningly hard to book and its calendar of events is erratic, the Rivoli is nonetheless Brockley's greatest man-made treasure and its owners have been loving custodians. The relatively few public events it holds have helped to preserve its features, while the eccentric booking process means that some gloriously unusual events take place there.

If and when the Rivoli is sold, we have to hope that the new owners take as much care with it. If they have to recoup £7.5m from it, that will be a tricky balancing act to get right.

47 comments:

Local said...

Totally agree with all the points in the post (inc the booking process!). I've not time to look into it right now, but could it be an asset of community value?

Tim said...

If you think about what it could earn in a year (not a massive amount), £7.5mln seems like a lot. Does the listed status mean it has to be kept as an entertainment venue? What else could you do with it?
Is "asset of community value" some sort of industry term?

Brockley Nick said...

I was wondering about that too. If there is an appetite to try this, I will happily use BC as a platform to organise it - if someone who knows how the process works wants to lead. I'd also invest, although it would be a drop in the ocean...

M said...

I think it could host a lot more gigs than it currently does. I understand that the owners are concerened about it getting trashed but if you booked the right acts that would be unlikely. Somewhere like Bush Hall in west London is equally architecturally valuable and lots of bands play there. Transport-wise it's not quite as well connected as Shepherds Bush of course...

ms_f said...

They would make a mint if they made it available for weddings.

And yes, agree that more gigs could be hosted there. I have seen Florence and the Machine perform there and it was great, though very, very hot.

terrencetrentderby said...

Wondered what that place was.

£7.5m seems optimistic for a suburban hall?

Sanjit said...

This might be what you're after: https://www.lewisham.gov.uk/getinvolved/community-support/community-assets/Pages/default.aspx. I'm too thinly spread at the moment but happy to help if I can.

Anon said...

At 7.5m and 5% return that requires a daily profit for the venue of over £1,000 after costs etc and the artists and promoters taking their share.
Now, if the listed part does not include the exterior.......

Toobusy said...

The community asset thing would be amazing! We need a good organiser with lots of capacity time wise, good contacts and networks, a famous patron or two to add weight to the fundraising ... Damn, have to get back to the day job :(

Local said...

It'd be a huge amount of cash to raise, but the saving of the place would be great (if we'd be saving it from demolition/unsuitable development.

Brockley Banker said...

The Owner told me he would sell for £5m a few months ago...

k said...

Well a film shoot pays the venue £10k a day for Rivolli which is why he never lets it out he pays rates of 2k per year as a community hall so work it out its a gold mine but not if the community pays £7.5 million

Rosie said...

Is the sprung floor part of the listing? That's a big part of what makes it unique and why the current owners didn't want weddings and concerts there. Might affect what it can be used for in the future

Anonymous said...

£1k a day is hardly a lot. Think of a gig with 500 people at £20 a head + massive drink premiums, comfortably clears that. 500 people is simple to get if Shepherd's Bush Empire (which is a rubbish venue) can pack it regularly at 2,000 people. Plus as it's an attractive venue it will attract "big" names for a venue of its size. I don't doubt this is a goldmine without any development. That's without the filming and wedding income that's possible.

terrencetrentderby said...

The price tag suggests development of some kind. It also prices out any well meaning local consortium.

Didn't there used to be a weird bar near there that shut down? I swear Brockley was more interesting 12 years ago.

k said...

Grade 2 is only the external features so yes it can be redeveloped and unless the council protects its we could pretty much say goodbye to two Ballrooms one is a store.

Brockley Nick said...

That is not correct. The exterior is unremarkable. It was the interior that led it to be listed and it is those features that are protected.

mario said...

If only the Owner knew that passing this info on to you could potentially cost him up to £ 2.5m, he would think twice before speaking you again.
:-P

heckmcbuff said...

Was it the Alpha Club? I've had a several very memorable nights there.

Robert said...

Selling it to a wealthy celebrity who wants to turn it into a decent venue would probably be viable. I have been to a wedding reception there in the past.

Anon said...

I was under the impression they strictly don't do wedding receptions... (no pun intended) the wedding I assume must have been under the guise of a dance competition?

Tinker said...

An underworld figure or a minor celebrity perhaps?
Paddy Doherty, we could have wedding and Whisky Galore ;)
or perhaps Professor Green could bring some.

anon said...

But if a £6m loan is taken out to purchase the property that's roughly £300,000 on interest alone, £6,000 a week + the £7000 a week to get a 5% return, we are now in the region of £15,000 a week PROFIT required.

Toss in repaying the loan, rates, heating, serving & maintenance + staff, may require close to £25,000 a week. Or a guaranteed 3 days hire every week by a film company. It has a capacity of 750, which means, if one show a week, £35 from each ticket would need to go to the venue.
Maybe we could persuade Prince to do 50 shows at the Rivoli?
I think 'intimate' shows could have a significant premium ticket price, but would the venue owner may have to carry the initial risk financial risk to prove to artists & their management it's worth doing.

Celebrity said...

Try calling Jay-Z and Byonce to see if they are interested this year

Tinker said...

Underworld or minor celebrity? We could have Paddy Doherty thinking weddings & Whisky Galore;) or Professor Green.

Tim said...

Brilliant! Anyone got Prince's phone number

Anon said...

lol the wedding crashers ;)

Robert said...

Yes. Would need quite a few high profile, free spending trustees to make it happen. The ACV status would just buy you a bit of time to make an offer before it went to the free market. I suspect it would piss the current owner off immensely.

Rachel said...

FYI: http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/lewisham/11124460.Brockley_Rivoli_Ballroom_owner__did_not_know__venue_on_market_for___7_5_million/

Anon said...

Thank you Nick for eventually publishing this, it's great to see it's now reached the news shopper. However I'm finding some censorship with my friends comments which have yet to be published.

Sm said...

It's not just the main ballroom space which is clearly the space most used. It has another ballroom plus 2 bars. A flat above and 2 shops. I think 7.5mill is not too much at all! The place could potentially be a gold mine with the right person in charge.

Crofty said...

I'm having Euromillions fantasies about this now, about what I'd do if I had the cash to run it for fun rather than profit. My choice would be a huge vast bookshop, new and second hand, shelf after shelf like Richard Booth's bookshop in Hay-on-Wye, plus a coffee shop/bar. Or a cinema screening old classics. Right, I'm buying a ticket for tomorrow night's draw....

terrencetrentderby said...

That's the one, wasn't there a shooting? The Jack used to a fun pub, especially on a band night, it's more like a Harvester now. Moonbow Jakes was good too.

Anon said...

What other commercial viable properties can you get for between £7.5 - £10 million ;)

Sanjit said...

That's the most sensible analysis so far - in excess of £25k a week.

bobblekin said...

Homeview - I loved that place! The manager would always give a knowing nod if you picked a classic or indie film he approved off. Video rental stores... it's practically a bygone age.

Lord Sir Alan said...

Well no one is going to pay 7.5m for a large shed with a nice interior and protected status.

J Mark Dodds said...

I'm an anti tied pubco campaigner with a lot of experience of pubs, clubs and restaurants. I've been vociferously advocating the essential need to save, sustain and reinvigorate good pubs as a focal point for developing healthy communities for over a decade and have done a lot of work around ACV and community share issues relating to pubs. I've just moved back to Telegraph Hill after twenty years in Camberwell where in 1995 I set up the Sun and Doves where I was persistently asset stripped by pubco's, which got me into the murky politics of pubs.

Went to Rivoli Ballroom last night for the first time in donkey's years to see @SomeVoicesSing it was a fantastic evening. It's an extraordinary venue that's clearly underused and has huge potential. Just being there last night forced the question 'what's happening to this place?' And I found this thread.

An ACV application would be straight forward. I'm a bit surprised it's not already been listed. Does anyone already posting here have experience of putting together an ACV? I'm on a phone at the mo so have tunnel vision on the whole conversation but it seems there's already some very competent people taking part - raising a massive amount through a community share issue would be a monumental challenge and take time. ACV status would buy time, it would take about ten weeks to put together application and get it turned around. A substantial soft loan might then be available from Architectural Heritage Fund and a London wide community share issue / crowd financing push could, with big pop star involvement, possibly just raise enough money to make the bulk of capital needed with a business plan showing a modest return on investment of say 2‰.

Incidentally there's no doubt the building will need a lot spending on it. It will eat a few hundred grand like an elephant snacking.

Does anyone know much about the current ownership and what they've been doing? There's a lot of evidence of tlc being put into it since the last time I visited which must be the best part of thirty years ago. It was sad and forlorn then...

J Mark Dodds said...

Oh... Anyone got a clear idea of the value of the place without development potential built in?

Damon All-Bran said...

It is a great venue and I'd love to see it as a regular gig venue similar to Bush Hall in Shepherds Bush as SE London is severely lacking in decent live music venues. However, for me transport slightly lets it down as there are only 2 trains an hour into Crofton and out to London Blackfriars. Still, would be fantastic to see it taken on by someone with real dedication and passion as it is a real treasure.

Whiffler said...

There is magic in the Rivolli, and not enough of that in the world.
It's not high gloss tawdry stuff, it's far rarer. And it
OWNERSHIP - A Community Buy Out is a possibility - with no 'donor/investor' getting back more return than the rate of inflation plus 1%. Say 200,000 benefactors/contributors at an average of £30 per head - i.e. maybe negotiating the price down to £6 million with the wonderful and awesome present owners & protectors of the Ballroom. Or 100,000 at £60 - or maybe 6 or so, millionaires giving back some of the profit they've made out of selling us whatever - for the pure pleasure of being able to do it.
Establish a Trust and appoint replacement competent Rivoli lovers to manage and develop what the Community want, balanced with making it viable.


THE BUILDING - Save it and use it just as it is, or pretty well, (a lot of really good work has been done over the last few years) e.g. keep the dance floor exactly as it is, no doubt it is an important element for film companies, as well as dance fans. Even the drabbish looking front is an important part of that magic. It doesn't need 'corporatising'. And It's what happens inside that counts.


USE & INCOME: Presumably it is hired by film/TV companies on average 1 or 2 days a week (not guaranteed) Say. £15k per week on average over a year. Then income from the 2 shops ..?. Continue with the relatively low entrance fee for the original Ballroom /dancing type events, ... very important for a community resource .....and seriously go for 'big name/quality' concerts or comedy nights once month (limited to preserve the fabric a bit, and give it rarity value while encouraging regular attendance filling the main hall - at the same time still retaining filming income) ... get it onto the London tourist trail - part of a roving guided tour, with a chance to just listen and learn, or have a quick foxtrot (lesson?) to piped or real band music .... All ideas to be explored with the proviso that the magic is to be retained, provision made for proper maintenance, decent living wages for staff, an events programme meeting a wide variety of interests to be delivered, while preserving the 'crown jewel' itself.
Please vote this up if it even remotely appeals to you!

heckmcbuff said...

The Alpha Club was good fun. You won't know this but the design of the ladies toilets was very Hollywood 40's glamour. I liked the female DJ who must have been in her 60's. The club's demise? I could speculate - a family member of the club's manager was jailed for reasons I can't discuss on a website. The club's manager's wife was a bit of a lush, to say the least. Illegal gambling may have contributed. The owner, who also owned other pubs in Brockley, decided to sell. It is now the Jam Circus, as you know. Yes, I sort of miss Moonbow Jakes as well even though I don't drink coffee.

Local said...

Will see if those behind the Honor Oak pub ACV listing are interested.

kenningtom said...

anyone thought about running a specialist shop for Ballroom gowns/costumes shoes etc out of the front office. a destination shop plus internet sales, there are childrens competitions there on saturdays and i'm sure there are plenty of pushy mums out there spending a fortune on sequins.
not sure you could really ramp up the number of events there, i'm sure a number of locals would soon begin to whinge about the noise/people etc etc, it is inevitable. need a good balance.
there are not many ballrooms left, i bet it could make most of it's money back as a destination for ballroom dancers and dancing competitons (including other types of dance) and then supplement that with Tv, film, and the odd gig but keeping attendance low.
it is a money pit, lets be honest, you won't make money out of it but you could have a whole lot of fun keeping it solvent

Barrie Dale said...

It's not for sale! ...Yet. According to South London Press and www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2014/04/rivoli-ballroom-the-april-fool-that-went-under-the-radar/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Woman of Brockley said...

It's less than ten minutes to walk to Brockley from there, though.

netski said...

I'm such a huge fan of the Rivoli since attending a club night (Montepulciano) way back in the distant past, as well as numerous events since. I've always dreamt of running the place as an arts venue - there is just so much potential that isn't being tapped. I would love to have a spare £7.5m so I could run it for fun but the Lottery hasn't been that kind. I would definitely be interested in getting involved in any kind of steering group to put together some kind of consortium r community venture if anyone thinks there might be any mileage at all in any of the ideas discussed in these comments. I reckon I could manage the place with a little support and would love to programme some really great gigs and performances. I guess I'll just keep dreaming!

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