North Dakota's Bakken Club Evicted; Says Oil Drop Not a Factor
An exclusive private club in the heart of North Dakota's oil country has been evicted amid a spat with its landlord over building maintenance and unpaid rent, but the club's owners say it has nothing to do with low oil prices and they will reopen at another site.
The Bakken Club, which Halliburton, Statoil , Weatherford and other companies joined for a $15,000 initiation fee and minimum monthly food spend of $750, was evicted from its downtown Williston locale on Dec. 21 for not paying rent, according to court filings.
The club owes about $23,000 in rent and late fees, and at least one check bounced, the landlord, On The Spot Development LLC told the court.
The club's owners, who hope to reopen nearby in 2015, claim in separate filings that On The Spot did not maintain the building's exterior and climate control systems, among other accusations.
"This has nothing to do with low oil prices," said Joel Lundeen, who owns 20 percent of the club and was its manager.
"The business model was working and it will continue to work," added Lundeen, who is also an investor in The Williston, a nearby boutique hotel and popular high-end restaurant.
He said the bounced check was a "mistake. It wasn't a common occurrence."
On The Spot charged the Bakken Club $40 a square foot in rent, Lundeen said.
On The Spot Development's David Forenza declined to comment.
Tony Mazza, the Bakken Club's majority owner and a real estate developer in Aspen, Colorado, is trying to sell the Bakken Club to several members who could make it even more exclusive at a new location, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations.
Mazza could not be reached for comment.
The club offered bison filets and Alaskan salmon on its menu, along with high-priced whisky, cognac and other alcohols not typically found at Williston eateries.
Members also had access to an airport shuttle and meeting rooms. The Prime Group used the club last September to announce a $150 million convention center for Williston.
Individual memberships started at $5,000. While the club was popular with oil executives and politicians, some Williston business leaders said in interviews that the club's Main Street location was not private enough for them.
Staff rarely checked the membership status of guests at the club, which had no exterior sign and was entered through saloon doors inside a small exterior lobby.
(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Dan Grebler)