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April 19, 2014

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Stirling Club has a buyer, but many questions remain unanswered

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The Stirling Club

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Nearly a year and a half after closing, Stirling Club at Turnberry Place has a buyer as a result of an online auction held this week at Auction.com.

An official with the auction website confirmed Friday that the regal 3.3-acre compound on Paradise Road (across from LVH) known as the Mansion inside the high-rise Turnberry Place resident development did lure a buyer. But even as the sale has finally been enacted, several questions remain — chiefly, the “who” of it all — as the property’s turnover moves forward.

“The asset did sell and is under contract at this time,” Auction.com Vice President Michael Anaya said in an email. “At this time, I cannot reveal purchase price or actual buyer. … The property did receive a tremendous amount of interest and bidder activity.”

Reportedly, the winning bid was at or around $10.5 million and was issued by a party who is not a Turnberry Place resident. Bidding opened at $4 million with an undisclosed reserve minimum sales price established before the parcel was opened to auction. The reserve minimum figure represents the lowest bid that would be accepted by the property’s owners, Jeffrey and Jacqui Soffer and their company Turnberry Associates.

For several months, the property was listed for $18 million on the Sotheby’s auction site but did not draw a bid acceptable to the owners during that listing. Several offers, including at least four from current Turnberry Place residents, also failed to secure a sale.

Many Turnberry residents are wondering, principally, whether the new operator will restore the Stirling Club to its previous operating condition. For a decade leading to the May 2012 closing, Stirling Club was one of the city’s storied exclusive hangouts, a restaurant-and-lounge haven for the affluent residents of Turnberry Place.

Those who lived in the high rise were granted membership to the club and all of its impressive accompanying amenities. The property also features a spa, a pool, a fitness center, tennis courts, two kitchens, 10 bedrooms, 20 baths and separate staff quarters. The main building is an elegant 80,000-square-foot fortress laden with marble, brass fixtures, red-carpeted stairways and polished-wood effects.

But the property is said to need an extensive “refreshing” because of its long lack of use. The tennis courts in particular have deteriorated over the past 17 months. A restaurateur will need to be secured to restore the club’s dining option, and at least one of the residents who attempted to place a bid did partner with a prominent culinary company that could conceivably work with the new buyer.

An entertainment director also would need to be put in place. Kelly Clinton-Holmes had previously operated in that role and also was the Stirling Club’s regular headliner in its swanky lounge.

Most important, the buyer will need to wade through the legality of restoring a dues-paying system among Turnberry Place residents if the Stirling Club is to reopen as a functioning entertainment, fitness and recreation enclave.

At its peak, Stirling Club was supported by about 700 dues-paying members laying out $400 a month, and regenerating that type of system will be a complicated process. As the club closed, the residents have split into two factions: Those who want to club to reopen and would be willing to resume paying dues, and those who are fine with not paying that figure for a club that has sat latent since May 2012.

And that doesn’t count the cost of renovation beyond the sales price. A conservative estimate of that figure is $1.5 million, proving once more that bringing the Stirling Club back to life won’t come cheap.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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