Dayton Club closing to leave a void downtown, members believe

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Dayton Club owner faces lawsuits over members’ dues

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The closing of the Dayton Club will leave a void downtown, some members say.

Dayton attorney Jeff Senney has been a member of the club — known before 2018 as the “Dayton Racquet Club” — for some 20 years. His Pickrel Schaeffer Ebeling law offices are in Stratacache Tower, a few floors below the club.

Senney used the club often, breakfasting there two or three times a week, working out daily, as well as meeting friends and colleagues. It was a great place to bring clients, he said.

“I think Kettering Tower, Stratacache Tower, loses something by not having the Racquet Club on top,” Senney said Tuesday.

“That club needs to be replaced,” he added.

The club’s view from the tower’s stop floor was “where I fell in love with Dayton,” said Richard Kaiser, founder of Dayton marketing firm Wilderness Agency.

“There is a shift in consumer demand when it comes to experiences and unfortunately, the club wasn’t able to attract younger members,” Kaiser said. “It’s the same challenge that many clubs face today whether they are related to dinning, sports, or social gatherings.”

A lawsuit filed in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court last week said that an executive at Club Corp — the Dallas-based owner of the Dayton Club — has told the owner of Stratacache Tower that the club will close.

Arkham Ventures, the real estate acquisition arm for Dayton digital technology company Stratacache, sued ClubCorp last week for — the suit alleges — failing to make lease payments and leaving the club site unsecured in its closure since March.

Chris Riegel, chief executive and owner of Stratacache, said the club has a number of lifetime members, among them some prominent Dayton attorneys and business leaders. It’s an open question how those members will be made whole for their dues after the club’s expected closure, Riegel said Monday.

Arkham bought the 30-floor tower building, downtown’s tallest structure, early in 2019.

RELATEDStratacache real estate arm sues Dayton Racquet Club

Arkham’s lawsuit said a ClubCorp executive conveyed to Arkham that the Dayton Club will make no more lease payments and that the club will close. Emily Decker, ClubCorp general counsel, declined to comment to the Dayton Daily News Monday.

Bryan Hunter owns 937 Payroll LLC in Dayton. He’s been a club member about a year, attending as a guest longer than that.

He would visit the club every Friday for lunch, often with a client. It was a good place to interact with others, Hunter said.

“I think it filled a niche in the Dayton market,” he said. “I don’t know where else that’s going to be filled.”

ClubCorp faces other lawsuits, as well.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sued ClubCorp Inc. for “failing to repay more than $10 million owed to its more than 9,000 California members,” the attorney general said last year.

Under a contract entered into by club members, money paid as deposits by members had to be returned after 30 years, the California attorney general said.

“Instead, ClubCorp only returned the money if asked and otherwise continued using the money for its own purposes,” the attorney general said in a statement from his office. “Given that the club targeted members in mid-life, many of the members to whom the club owed dues are senior citizens.”

ClubCorp owns and operates more than 200 private golf and country clubs nationwide.

In April, a California resident sued ClubCorp in federal court for allegedly forcing thousands of private club members to continue paying monthly membership fees even though all of its clubs around the country are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

California resident Jeffrey Cuenco filed what he hopes will be a class action against ClubCorp in April, though his attorney told the Law360 web site that the the complaint will be withdrawn because ClubCorp intends to file for bankruptcy — an assertion Law360 says ClubCorp denied.

The private club has drawn local attorneys and business leaders since it opened in 1971.

Riegel said some club members have private wine collections housed at the club. He said those members can call Arkham or Stratacache to retrieve their property.

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