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Stirling Club, Turnberry Place’s great fortress, again for sale

Updated November 19, 2017 - 7:35 pm

I used to call the dance floor at Turnberry Place’s Stirling Club “the genteel mosh pit.” There, you might find yourself grooving with entertainer Phyllis McGuire, late casino maverick Bob Stupak or powerhouse real-estate deal-maker David Atwell.

Yep, we had some times at Turnberry Place’s signature nightspot, surrounded by its restaurant (operated by Charlie Palmer), spa, wine lounge, cigar bar and clay tennis courts. The Stirling Club, which covers 73,000 square feet on 3.2 acres, in its heyday served more than 700 residents, who paid $400 a month in membership fees to use its many amenities.

But the Stirling Club has stood silent for more than five years. And starting Nov. 28, it will be auctioned on Ten-X, an online commercial real estate site. The auction closes Nov. 30.

How the famous fortress on Paradise Road landed up for auction is a Las Vegas story for the ages.

At its peak, Stirling Club was as exclusive as it was opulent. Only residents and their guests were allowed inside the private compound and the plush Stirling Club lounge. Music director Kelly Clinton-Holmes spearheaded this superexclusive hang, and you never knew who might turn up.

Kelly’s playmates included lounge greats Ronnie Rose and Paul Stubblefield. Jack Jones, Bob Anderson, Frankie Scinta, Elisa Fiorillo, Michelle Johnson, cast members from such Strip production shows as “The Producers,” “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” and “Jersey Boys” appeared as guests.

I hung with comic legend Sammy Shore — who opened for Elvis at the Las Vegas Hilton — one late night at Stirling Club.

O.J. Simpson, between arrests, was known to duck into the place during his Vegas visits. Michael Jackson and director Kenny Ortega were said to be discussing a possible Vegas production show in one of Stirling Club’s private rooms.

But the party ended abruptly in May 2012.

Owners Jeffrey and Jackie Soffer, and their company, Turnberry Associates, closed the club and put it up for sale. Famously, a midnight email offer from Steven Siegel of The Siegel Group did not meet approval of the Stirling Club’s homeowners’ association.

The Stirling Club’s demise was rooted in the Great Recession, which forced many homeowners to move out of Turnberry’s 772 tower residences. Dues that were the Stirling Club’s lifeblood were depleted, and Turnberry Associates deemed the place too expensive to maintain.

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.

However, the neighborhood around Turnberry Place — across the street from Westgate — is headed toward revitalization. Coming in the next few years is the Las Vegas Convention Center to the old Riviera site, Steve Wynn’s Paradise Park project at Wynn Las Vegas/Encore and Resorts World Las Vegas.

That’s a lot of discretionary income returning to the Turnberry Place radius. And, despite being closed and lacking regular activity, Stirling Club has been consistently maintained. The current owners have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in upkeep.

The listing brokers for the sale of the property are CNR Retail Advisors (Chris Clifford, Steven Neiger, and Brett Rather) of Colliers International.

“The property has never been mothballed,” said Neiger, who led a tour of the Stirling Club this month to verify that claim. “It could be open tomorrow in the condition it’s in.” The clay tennis courts would need to be resurfaced, having been exposed to Vegas sunlight for five years, but the Stirling Club seems in as good a shape as it was when it was shut down in 2012.

Who would buy the Stirling Club is the magic question. Neiger says he has offered tours only to potential buyers who have the finances to make a serious bid. Reopening Stirling Club as private club with a “public option” for membership could happen.

During our tour of the club, Neiger and I entered the lounge, dark and silent but spruced up as if for a party. If you listened closely, you could hear Kelly and Ronnie belting out Donna Summer’s “Last Dance,” the song that closed Stirling Club on May 18, 2012.

People who remember the Stirling Club’s gladder days hope it wasn’t.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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