Real Estate

Members-Only Mania: Why Are More Private Clubs Popping Up in New York?

In a 115-year-old ferry terminal in New York’s financial district, an abundance of excess now exists. Walls lined with Loro Piana cashmere, Brooklyn Bridge views, a wellness center, a jazz bar — all of it can be yours for $3,900 annually (or just $2,500, if you’re under 30). Since it opened in 2021, Casa Cipriani has become one of the city’s buzziest private clubs.

If you can get in, there are many rules on how to behave. No photos are allowed in the “living room” — last year, some members were reportedly ousted after guests snapped pictures of Taylor Swift with Matty Healy. And there’s a dress code — jeans are allowed, so long as they have “no rips.”

The club Zero Bond opened in 2020.Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

Private clubs have long shaped the fabric of New York social life. Many of them formed during the Gilded Age, meticulously designed to be showstoppers before Manhattan’s skyscrapers surrounded them. Some of the original clubs still exist, sitting on prime real estate near Central Park and now officially designated as city landmarks.

But in recent years, a new wave of clubs, including Casa Cipriani, has proliferated, varying in price point, exclusivity and amenities. These clubs have risen by filling two voids left by the pandemic: the loss of “third places,” or locations distinct from work and home that can foster a sense of community, and the abundance of empty office space amid a new work-from-home culture.

Last month, over 98 million square feet of office space was available in Manhattan, nearly double the amount in March 2020, according to the real estate firm Colliers.

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