The home of the former Sapphire Lounge night club and Bada Bing strip club in Sydney’s Kings Cross has hit the market, potentially ending what was once a staple of the Kings Cross nighttime scene.
The property, at 70-70a Darlinghurst Road, was for many years the home to the two businesses. The Sapphire Suite, on the ground floor, was renamed the Sapphire Lounge around 2008 and then the Carlisle Bar in 2016 following an extensive renovation. It was then home to The Limited nightclub, which opened in 2018, with the space currently leased to KX Burgers and Beers.
Spread over the top two floors of the building, Bada Bing, marketed as “Sydney’s best strip club” was still operating prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Building owner and Bada Bing manager Charlie Saleh told Commercial Real Estate that the club will reopen Friday, July 3 in line with loosened NSW COVID-19 restrictions.
He said that the business will continue to run until the sale of the property and that it would be up to a new owner whether to continue operating a nightclub from the premises.
“You can’t get a licence or a strip club in the city anymore and mine is one of the best in the Cross,” he said, adding that “there is no condition from me [on what the new owner does] but the theatre licence is worth a lot of money.”
The property has long been a popular spot for celebrities, Justin Bieber having paid a visit to Bada Bing during his 2013 visit to Sydney and the Sapphire a well-known NRL player hangout for many years.
Prior to being listed for sale, 70a Darlinghurst was advertised for lease in January on a walk-in basis for a new nightclub operator.
In 2008 Mr Saleh, the longtime owner of the Sapphire Lounge, purchased the building, which has dual street frontages to Darlinghurst Road and Kellett Street, becoming Bada Bing’s landlord in the process. He later took over operations of the club. Domain Group records show the property sold for $6 million.
“I’m 68 years old and it’s time to retire,” Mr Saleh said.
“It is a good business to run, I’ve been there for 31 years and I’ve done very well from it.”
Mr Saleh had previously attempted to band together with other Kings Cross nightclub and bar owners for a joint sale of their properties along Darlinghurst Road to developers.
Listing agents Matt Pontey and Miron Solomons said Mr Saleh had been encouraged by the result achieved for the former Pink Pussy Cat strip club, which sold for $6.15 million in June.
The Colliers agents, who also handled that sale, said the result represented more than $12,000 a square metre based on the gross building area, and that it was “a new local record and benchmark”.
“Our recent sale of the former site of the Pink Pussy Cat at 38 Darlinghurst Road in June demonstrated the progression of the fringe [CBD suburb] and the move to repurpose these beautiful buildings into exciting new concepts mixing, retail, commercial and residential,” Mr Pontey said.
The property is being sold with vacant possession and potential future uses could include a mixed-use office and retail conversion or a hotel development.
“The future of this asset and this auction process is likely to attract an array of investors who will recognise the progression of Potts Point and the likelihood that a conversion to a mix of retail and office will deliver them an attractive outcome with a long-term view that they will be able to capitalise on this progression in the future,” Mr Solomons said.
The three-and-a-half storey building has a gross floor area of 932 square metres and is fully licensed.
The immediate area surrounding the property has been no stranger to development in recent years, following the dramatic decline of the night-time economy following the state government’s lockout laws, which remain in place in Kings Cross.
“This precinct is one of the most densely populated suburbs in Australia and is highly sought after by developers for its key amenities and the belief in the ongoing gentrification of the precinct,” Mr Pontey said. Examples of this gentrification included projects such as the Omnia, by Greenland, and The Hensley, by Roxy Pacific, he said.
Recent moves by the City of Sydney to develop a masterplan for the precinct would likely help encourage investor interest in the property, Mr Pontey said.
“In May of this year, the City of Sydney in collaboration with the Committee for Sydney partnered with Ethos Urban, the Kings Cross Liquor Accord and Potts Point Partnership with a view towards developing a vision for the precinct for the future. The intention is to deliver coordinated actions for development of a diverse nightlife that will attract local, domestic and international visitors back to the area,” he said.