“Last Dance” was the last song played at the Stirling Club the night of May 17, 2012. And for nearly six years, Donna Summer’s disco send-off really did seem to spell the end of the regal recreation annex at Turnberry Place.
But it’s time to dust off the mirrored ball. The Stirling Club has been purchased, and the buyers who just paid $12 million for the place are ready to party.
“We have every intention of returning all the amenities to the Stirling Club,” says investment partner Richard Ditton of DK Hospitality management company, which paid almost $12.4 million for the property. “I’d love to be open by New Year’s Eve. That’s ambitious, but you have to start somewhere.”
If Ditton’s goals seem sky high, know that he’s a former NASA software engineer (his technology was used on the space shuttle) and co-founder of the amusement-game corporation Incredible Technologies.
Ditton is an otherwise “silent” partner in Stirling Club, contributing equity (and also his perspective as an actual resident of Turnberry Place). DK Hospitality President Debra Kelleher is heading up the specific tasks of returning Stirling Club to its luxurious past.
The purchase of the property took months to enact and was made final Wednesday. The purchasing group has been interested in the Stirling Club since November, when the property was offered for auction on the Ten-X online commercial real estate site.
“We were originally looking into running a hotel,” Kelleher said. “But when you start looking at what it costs, this was a far better deal for us, and it’s a property with a great Las Vegas history.”
The sale represents the latest twist in Stirling Club’s aged saga. Covering nearly 80,000 square feet, the facility opened in 2001 as an exclusive club for Turnberry Place residents at 2827 Paradise Road. Within five years, it was one of the city’s swankiest hangs, with entertainers from across the city dropping in to sing and cavort with entertainment director Kelly Clinton-Holmes and her tireless three-piece band.
The main Stirling building sits on a 3-acre parcel with tennis courts, a fully furnished gym, a cigar room, dining room and several conference rooms. Its princely appointed main building is decorated in wood, brass and a staircase layered in red carpet. The scene was percolating until the decline hit, prompting owners Jeffrey and Jackie Soffer, and their company, Turnberry Associates, to close the club and put it up for sale in 2012.
In October 2013, a group of Silicon Valley investors purchased Stirling Club for $10.9 million, far less than the $44 million it cost to build it in 2002. A pair of full-time employees have since kept the club in about the same condition it was when it closed, but it has never reopened to residents.
“There are a few infrastructure issues with the property,” Ditton says, “but it’s not in too bad a shape.”
The club’s operating team has a clear, long-term vision for the future of the Stirling Club: Restore the property, and devise a way to make money so the entire project doesn’t crater as it did several years ago when the recession forced dues-paying owners from the property.
“We’re excited about the possibilities for the Stirling Club. Our vision is to keep the club’s original flair, but enhance the experience to attract the clientele of today’s Vegas,” Kelleher says. “We absolutely plan to maintain the alliance and collaboration with residents and owners at Turnberry, and at the same time, we will explore opportunities that will expand our customer base beyond the boundaries of the condo complex.”
That means Stirling Club will be far more imaginative about monetizing its services than it was in the old days, when its 700 or so residents simply paid $400 per month and had the run of the place. Kelleher says her company plans to offer different levels of memberships. A resident might sign up simply for a gym or tennis-court membership, for instance, or opt for a full-access pass.
Stirling Club will also be available for corporate and private functions, as The Drew and the Convention Center expansion open in the neighborhood in the next few years.
And the club will be open to the public, too, even in the form of a cover charge for the lounge.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” Keleher said. “But what is happening at the Stirling Club today is really good news.”