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New York getting co-working space for the super rich

Published: Updated:

New York is getting yet another private club, this time in the form of a co-working space for the super rich.

Developed by Edmond Safra, a member of the billionaire Safra family, and restaurateur Juan Santa Cruz, the club is set to occupy the entire 37th floor of New York’s GM building, which overlooks Central Park and the Plaza Hotel.

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The club, which is named Colette, is aimed at the itinerant, global rich who have second homes in New York, or perhaps even live in the city, but don’t need a full-time office. “I’ve been thinking about this for a while,” says Santa Cruz, who used to work in private equity. “The world has been evolving for quite some time, and the pandemic has made it more evident that people do not use their offices as much as they think they do, or wish they did.”

In addition, he continues, many people have either moved out of New York or travel to the city to do business; once there, they find themselves taking confidential meetings in public restaurants and hotel lobbies, or conducting video calls with a hotel bed as a background. “So why don’t we develop a co-working club, at the highest level, for people who are used to having an amazing office?,” Santa Cruz says.

What you get

Colette is set to open in March 2023, and will have 23 private offices with conferencing desks, a seating area, videoconferencing hookup, and individual temperature and light controls. Each office will measure approximately 400 square feet. There will also be conference rooms, a “members lounge, and a series of other meeting rooms.”

Guests will enter through a dedicated, ground-floor entrance on 59th Street and be whisked up to the club where a discreet, friendly staff will be on hand to bring coffees and serve as a de facto support team.

“We did market research, not only to understand the competitive landscape, but also to understand people’s needs,” says Santa Cruz. “What we came to realize is that people love service.”

Consider a scenario, he suggests, where a club guest has an important meeting with two clients: at Colette, a uniformed staff member will be on hand to ask if guests want a coffee or a snack “without having to interrupt,” Santa Cruz says. “Just with a gesture, you’d say, ‘Yes, I’d love a coffee,’ and the meeting would continue without interruption.”

Similarly, staff will be on hand to make copies, bind printed presentations, call cars, or usher guests into meetings. “These details set us apart,” says Santa Cruz.

The cost

They also don’t come cheap. Colette will have an initial cap of 300 members. Shares in the club will cost $125,000; on top of that, yearly dues will be another $36,000 — though to sweeten the deal, members can resell their shares whenever they want to. (In contrast, many other clubs’ six-figure initiation fees are never recouped.)

“In five years, if I were to move to Singapore or get my own offices, then I could sell it off,” says Santa Cruz of the club share. “It’s not an expenditure, it’s an asset.”

Club members will also have access to the GM building’s fitness center and canteen, along with the club’s restaurant, Coco’s, a single space that will include a bar, dining room, and chef’s table that Santa Cruz has billed as an “Omakase concept, with diners seated around a chef on bar seats.”

Coco’s will have its own membership base, where the buy-in cost is much lower, and the membership is much larger, says Santa Cruz, though the exact numbers have yet to be nailed down. (Members of Colette will automatically be members of Coco’s.)

That broad reach for the dining room, Santa Cruz says, was carefully considered. “We’re doing that to add vibrancy, with more people coming in and out, he says. “You do that to have more demographic diversity.”

A crowded field

The announcement comes at a time when private clubs in New York are proliferating at every level. The Core Club, which is also aimed at a wealthy, international clientele, is set to open its own four-story location a few blocks south of Colette on Fifth Avenue.

Core is significantly cheaper than Colette—its initiation fee ranges from $15,000 to $100,000, and annual dues range from $15,000, to $18,000. It will also feature offices, a gym, and multiple restaurant concepts.

Aman is opening a club, also on Fifth Avenue (between Colette and Core), designed to be more of a “lifestyle club than a workspace.”

Those will all join a cluster of existing private spaces currently used for work meetings: Ned’s Club, a members-only club in the Ned NoMAD hotel; Casa Cipriani, at South Street Seaport; Soho House, in the Meatpacking District, and its companion Ludlow House, on the Lower East Side; and, of course, a baker’s dozen existing members’ clubs founded on the British men’s club model of the 19th century.

Colette will also have to compete with run-of-the-mill co-working spaces like WeWork and Industrious, which, while certainly more down-market, also offer private meeting rooms and high-tech amenities that could appeal to a part-time New Yorker.

Early enthusiasm

Santa Cruz is undaunted by the competition.

None, he says, can match what he’s planned in terms of design and luxury. He’s personally selected the Alcantara fabric that will cover the walls, the wood veneer that will serve as trim, the uniforms for the staff (suits for club managers, special jackets for waiters and runners), the design of the desks, the acoustics of the hallways, the window treatment on each office’s double bay windows.

“We’re setting ourselves apart by the level of design, which, from the very beginning, is thought about for business performance, he says. “And because we’re starting now, in 2022, we’re designing with a view to the future, about how people are working now and how they’ll work in five years. And that was quite different from how anyone would have designed this type of club just four years ago, before the pandemic began.

Santa Cruz says that he and Safra, who not coincidentally happens to have an ownership stake in the GM building itself, according to Santa Cruz, have informally circulated promotional materials for Colette over the last few weeks and were met with overwhelming enthusiasm.

They anticipate being fully signed up by the time they open in March. “The response has been beyond incredible,” Santa Cruz says. “When you’re doing something new, it’s quite positive to see such a good reaction when the place is still under construction.”

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