A New York-based private club for the mega-wealthy — which also has a location in Milan — catering to those who prefer only to mingle, dine, and work out with each other and avoid the hoi polloi, has just leased a huge amount of space in the Transamerica Pyramid.
It's a very San Francisco-in-2012 sort of story, but here it is 2022 and this is still our reality.
The members-only Core club, which opened its first location in Manhattan 17 years ago, caters only to those with new-money wealth to spare and the desire for exclusive spaces where the middle class and merely rich can't afford to tread. The New York Times' Guy Trebay described a chic Manhattanite woman arriving to one of Core's New York dining rooms in 2011 thusly:
Her suit was Chanel but emphatically not matronly Chanel. Her wrists were manacled with slave bracelets from Cartier. Her shoes were Manolo Blahniks because not only did she look like money, she was money. ... She ordered... well, what does it matter what she ordered? As Marlene Dietrich once observed, New Yorkers (and particularly those of a certain social stratum) are hungry for everything except food. And for those New Yorkers and their kind, those used to breathing the rarefied air of great wealth, there is a particular gathering place in Manhattan, a quiet six-story annex of a Midtown office building, unmarked and inconspicuous, where they can be among their kind. That place is the Core club.
Now, as the Chronicle reports, this rarefied, members-only club has deigned to open an outpost in San Francisco — and I guess we should be flattered? This is only the brand's third location, after Milan, and even in 17 years the club reportedly only has a membership of 1,500. It's invite-only after a location establishes its "founding members" — there are only 20 slots available for those in SF, with initiation fees of $15,000 to $100,000, and regular annual dues of $15,000 to $18,000 as well.
The 45,000-square foot San Francisco location takes up three floors at the Transamerica building — renderings of future rooms at the club indicate spaces in the lower levels where those criss-cross beams are outside the windows. And one of three planned restaurants in the space looks to be on the second floor overlooking the Transamerica Redwood Park.
The club will also have a few private guest suites, meeting rooms, a fitness club, theater, three bars, and three restaurants.
Per the Chronicle, this is nearly half of the 100,000 square feet of space in the tower that new owner Michael Shvo has recently leased — and Shvo says he also has plans for three new restaurants open to the public in the Pyramid.
"COVID is a moment in time,” he says bullishly. “There was life before COVID. There will be life after COVID."
The team behind Core also sounds optimistic about expansions, and Core co-founder Jennie Enterprise tells the Chronicle, "We’re very bullish on San Francisco and big cities generally, especially gateway cities... We weren’t compelled to expand... It’s about finding a city that’s internationally relevant and culturally vibrant."
Membership at the New York club, while kept private, apparently includes former president Bill Clinton, and billionaires like Blackstone Group Chairman Stephen Schwarzman, and real estate mogul Steven Roth of Vornado. Anthony Scaramucci, the former hedge-fund manager turned White House communications director turned vocal Trump critic was mentioned as a member in the 2011 Trebay piece.
San Francisco doesn't have the kind of over-150-year-old private enclaves for the old-money rich that New York has plenty of. So the Times piece distinguished the sort of younger, new-money wealth and style on display at Core from what you'd find at older fraternal clubs like the Union and the Metropolitan — which was founded in 1891, as the Times notes, "by a Vanderbilt, a Whitney and J. P. Morgan when a member of their coterie was denied admission to the Union."
But San Francisco also isn't so familiar with the types of private spaces that are, by design, exclusionary, invite-only, decadent and snooty in a decidedly non-West-Coast sort of way. But there's certainly a market here for that!
Forget The Battery, with all its low-level deal making and DJ-partying trash. It's time for lunch and a spa day at Core. Maybe Ivy Getty will even join...
Photo: Chris Leipelt