Whither the city's insatiable appetite for all things exclusive? To a private club complete with 20-person hot tub and chandelier of taxidermy seagulls, apparently.
Opening this summer, The Battery is a 50,000 square foot, 4-story private club at 717 Battery Street. The space will include four bars as well as a fine dining restaurant, 3,000 bottle wine cellar, library, game room, 14 luxury hotel suites, and a fitness club complete with aforementioned ultra-tub.
The Battery is the creation of Michael and Xochi Birch, who sold the social networking site Bebo to AOL for $850 million in 2008 in a deal that has since been called one of the worst acquisitions in history (AOL reputedly resold Bebo to Criterion Capital Partners for less than $10 million a mere two years later).
But we digress. In 2009, the Birches bought the historic Musto Building for $13.5 million and spent tens of millions more to transform the Battery Street property into a playland for people who'll be able to afford this sort of thing, although scholarships will be available for persons interesting enough to qualify. "We don't want to filter people based on how wealthy they are," Birch told the S.F Business Times. "We want people based on how interesting they are." Birch has said that membership will be reasonable for people who make $100,000 a year.
The Battery's founders simply cannot stress enough that diversity and an egalitarian exchange of ideas are at the core of The Battery's mission. From the club's teaser site:
Inspired by the city of San Francisco and its diverse culture, The Battery is designed to engage and stimulate forward-thinking minds in the arts, technology and other thriving industries. Our vision is to create a culture where inspiration is embraced, diverse communities come together and egos are checked at the door.
In the interest of
irony diversity, the tech millionaire Birches say they'll limit tech folks to a third of the club's membership. "We want there to be all types of people" such as those who work in art and medicine, Birch told AllThingsD. Seemingly in the same breath, Birch made the peculiar proviso that people who work in finance and advertising, or who wear a suit to work, will be less than welcome.
Oh, The Battery. What are we to think of you? Should we gather to chat with your diverse-yet-not-too-many-tech-people-and-zero-suits-or-poors member base? Shall we linger beneath your stuffed bird chandeliers and soak in the dubious exclusivity of a 20-person hot tub? Or should we retire around the corner to our own version of a shmancy center for discourse and shoulder-rubbing, a dive bar? It's a place where diverse communities come together and forward-thinking minds are stimulated, no taxidermy seagulls required.
Previously: What Are We To Think of The Wingtip Club?