The former Edmonton Petroleum Club was demolished this week, but the organization’s president says he hopes the club will be in a new downtown home by next spring.
The organization has held a few dinners since closing the 60-year-old building at 11110 108 St. in December 2014, but membership has dropped to 53 from about 300 as people wait for a permanent facility to open, Anthony Nelson said Wednesday.
“We’re trying to be fairly close to downtown. One of the problems we had with the old location is it was just far enough out that (members) couldn’t walk for lunch, and they didn’t want to drive because they would lose their (office) parking spot.”
The club is looking at leasing space in one of two buildings within a five-minute walk of Rogers Place, which will likely be renovated to hold a fitness facility, dining room and meeting rooms, and maybe a theatre.
The group finally sold its roughly one-hectare property in March for $7 million, about half of what it would have received if the land had gone on the market in mid-2014 instead of six months later when oil prices crashed, Nelson said.
That means it probably won’t have the money to put up its own building for 10 or 15 years, he said.
However, surveys indicate membership should return to between 300 and 600 people once the club finally reopens next year.
“One of the big reasons people are members of clubs like this is we’re business-oriented,” he said.
“We’re looking at a restaurant facility that has a little more space between tables so you aren’t overwhelmed by discussions at the next table.”
Nelson, who thinks the organization is Edmonton’s last private social club, said another benefit is reciprocal membership with similar operations in other cities.
They haven’t restricted members to the energy industry since the 1960s, and have thought about changing the name, he said.
“Private clubs are a way of providing an experience for your clients that is not the same as you get in a restaurant,” he said.
“Restaurants can be good, but they don’t have that connection with the members that you do at a club. The staff get to know who you are and what your interests are.”
Daytona Homes, which bought the land, will likely build a residential project that might include commercial space, general manager Jordan Davis said.
The development might be co-ordinated in some way with the 12- to 14-storey tower planned for an empty lot across 111 Avenue, in which Daytona recently became a partner, he said.