Spring Place, a new members-only club in Manhattan for the creative elite, is painting a modern picture of the club industry, while Silver Gull Beach Club in Breezy Point, N.Y., represents tradition and continuity.
Two New York clubs—one new and one old-line—were recently featured in The Daily Beast and The New York Times.
At Spring Place, the new members-only club in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood described as a playground for the creative class that doubles as a workspace, the atmosphere is hush-hush, the Beast reported.
It has been less than a month since Spring Place officially and quietly opened, and the club seems dedicated to making sure things remain quiet. There was little media buzz about a party debuting the club’s 11,000-sq. ft. rooftop several weeks ago, bar a Page Six gossip item claiming Leonardo DiCaprio and some Victoria’s Secret models were among the 2,000 guests that night, the Beast reported.
The anti-publicity drive seems to be predicated on the idea that the less the public knows about Spring Place, the more likely jet-setting creative professionals will seek it out as a space where they can host meetings with clients and cavort with other jet-setting creative professionals, the Beast reported.
Spread across three floors in the same building as Spring Studios—the multimedia events space that houses New York Fashion Week shows, the Tribeca Film Festival, and the Independent Art Fair—Spring Place is a collaborative workspace and social club for these high-rolling creative elites, particularly those in the top tier of the art, fashion, and design worlds, the Beast reported.
When explaining Spring Place’s vision and “ecosystem” to prospective members and other guests, staffers frequently cite a kind of partnership with Spring Studios. “Their clients are our members, our members are their clients,” as the refrain goes.
“The idea is to sell a community of people that already exists,” said co-founder Francesco Costa, speaking on the phone from his home in London. “They travel among cities. They all know each other and have active social lives. Our job is to provide a workspace that has the same aesthetic they’re used to, and to provide the right business connections so that a young creative director can meet with a photographer, or a movie producer can meet with talent.”
Spring Place aims to be a cut above a growing crop of member clubs that mix business and pleasure, from the British-born Soho House, now a global franchise, to Neuehouse, a stylish co-working space in New York and Hollywood, with a location in London set to open next year. Unlike Soho House, which caters to hipster youths and creative-ish people who can afford the dues, Spring Place cares less about age than influence. They don’t want the space to be crawling with twentysomething men and women working on screenplays—or crawling with anyone, for that matter, since people tend to join private clubs to get away from crowds, the Beast reported.
If membership fees are any indication of a club’s status, then Spring Place comes out way ahead of its competitors. After passing all the screening tests and paying a $2,000 initiation fee, “local” members pay an additional $900 a month for access to everything the club offers, or $600 for members under the age of 30. Other members pay $3,600 for 36 all-access days (a “traveler” membership), or to take advantage of the club’s social scene all year round, the Beast reported.
Spring Place hopes to be a refuge for the Leonardo DiCaprios of the world, i.e., megacelebrities—“a place where you can work or have a drink without people stopping and wanting to talk to you,” said Costa, confirming that DiCaprio was indeed at the rooftop party. But the famous faces one might encounter at Spring Place are incidental to its mission: the club wants to be exclusive, but “not in a snobbish way,” according to Costa.
The overarching goal is to facilitate collaborative efforts between people who work in art, fashion, design, and entertainment. “If we give you a beautiful office, you can generate more business with other members who work in your field,” Costa said.
That ambitious vision plays out in the sprawling space—1,400,000 sq. ft. over three floors, two for business and one for pleasure—with its soaring ceilings, Brazilian-brutalist concrete walls, blackened steel, and midcentury furnishings, the Beast reported.
If you’ve arrived in New York from Berlin and need a personal assistant for a day, a concierge will find you an eminently capable one in-house. She’ll also arrange a messenger to rush-deliver your photo proofs to a client and book you a table at a restaurant that only takes reservations months in advance. Other first-class amenities elevating Spring Place above a crop of stylish workspace-member clubs include temporary showrooms, executive boardrooms, insulated booths for private calls, a reference library, and tech support, the Beast reported.
All of this suggests that Spring Place is more grown up than other members-only clubs for creative professionals. As one anonymous member put it, Spring Place is “more sophisticated and more clipped” than Soho House, where he’s also a member. He argued that even the chinaware and glassware were nicer at Spring Place, the Beast reported.
Indeed, Spring Place isn’t just a networking playground with a pool. The concept is more streamlined, the people more serious. Still, there’s an entire floor where members can let their hair down, including a restaurant, bar, and lounge open from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Members can rent out one of two private dining rooms (the fashion designer Jason Wu recently did so for an intimate, jungle-themed dinner celebrating the launch of his new Grey collection), the Beast reported.
There’s also a music room for karaoke and performances, and a sunken, all-red private screening room with a floating fireplace. While Spring Place has already attracted a slew of marquee names in fashion and entertainment—actor Adrien Brody, models Eva Herzigova, Constance Jablonski, Irina Shayk, and fashion designer Maxwell Osborne—most of the 200 members they’ve accepted so far are well-heeled creative and semi-creative types, the Beast reported.
The club plans to open bigger locations in Red Hook and Los Angeles next year, both of which will have pools in addition to workspaces, and offices that they’ll rent out to other companies. More locations are in the works in London, Sao Paolo, Hong Kong, Milan, and Paris, in the city’s Marais and Saint-Germain neighborhoods, the Beast reported.
The first New York members were admitted on May 1, and Costa said they now expect to admit an additional 100 members per month (there’s already a wait list), all of whom are vetted by an “executive membership committee” comprised of 30 people who are “quite influential in the creative industries” and who meet every two months to “evaluate member criteria.”
“People who are mostly professionally independent or who have managed big companies and who will use Spring Place as a platform to generate more ideas,” Costa said, adding: “We want them to have jobs.”
In contrast, Silver Gull Beach Club in Breezy Point, N.Y., is decidedly traditional, the Times reported.
“Changes? This place never changes,” Dave Gelfman, 101, said as he leaned back in his beach chair at his regular spot and pressed his feet on the warm concrete deck.
The Silver Gull is part of a disappearing world of private waterfront clubs in New York City, where most people flock to crowded public beaches or head elsewhere for more pristine seashore spots. But in a city of constant change, these timeless clubs offer tradition and continuity—a reunion that lasts a few balmy weeks every year, pulling together familiar faces who may not see much of one another after the chill of fall settles in, the Times reported.
The Times will visit the Silver Gull throughout the summer, chronicling a season at a beach club where Gelfman is among its longest-standing members, having joined a couple of years after it opened in 1963. A half-century of active summers at the club might not have helped him live this long, he said, “but it certainly didn’t hurt.”
For Gelfman, the seaside retreat is a mere 15-minute drive from his home in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Several days a week, he drives to the Silver Gull, one of a dwindling breed of organizations that include longstanding swim clubs on the East River in the northeast Bronx and boating clubs in Sheepshead Bay and in Broad Channel, Queens. The Silver Gull is run by Ortega National Parks, which also runs the Breezy Point Surf Club, about two miles to the west, which sits back from the water. But the colony is unique in the city because it sits directly on the open ocean, resembling the string of clubs to the east in Nassau County, the Times reported.
It is one of the few remaining clubs of the sort portrayed in the 1984 film “The Flamingo Kid,” in which Matt Dillon plays a cabana boy, and the Silver Gull retains much of the early 1960s feel of the movie. Sure, there have been amenities added over the years—a gym, a tiki bar, Wi-Fi—but, over all, the Silver Gull has remained largely a traditional cabana club, and to an outsider it might seem soaked with the kitsch of bygone summers, the Times reported.
“This club is the best-kept secret on the East Coast because nobody knows it’s here; you could be in Tahiti,” said Jerry Schackne, 84, who kept a bottle of 12-year-old Chivas Regal Scotch by his side, along with two friends, Art Maiese and Tony Costanzo. Costanzo nodded and said the club was “like Lourdes — you come here and all your worries are gone.”
Like Gelfman, most Silver Gull members tend to be longstanding and return every June to catch up and make new memories. “No one leaves this club; we just die,” Gelfman joked.
Members are virtually all white and consist mostly of middle-class families and retired couples from southern Brooklyn, a short drive away on the Belt Parkway. They include teachers, school secretaries and garment industry workers. Many joined after clubs in Brooklyn closed, places like the Palm Shore Club or Brighton Beach Bath and Racquet Club where they used to spend their summers. Some members are avid ocean swimmers while others never touch the sand, preferring to socialize on the patio or from a cushioned lounge chair in a cabana. Another group plays paddleball, heading for the courts past the parking lot and sweating for hours in the blazing sun, honing their skills for the club’s championships in August, the Times reported.
The piers and cabanas sustained extensive damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. It was just one of the many times over the years that the club seemed on the brink of closing; in the past the federal government has threatened not to renew its permit. But that demise has been avoided with the help of local elected officials, including Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, whose family belonged to the club when he was a teenager, the Times reported.
The Silver Gull, which is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, has 2,300 members and 457 cabanas. The cabanas are like large walk-in closets that serve as miniature beach houses, though no overnight sleeping is permitted. Many members decorate them elaborately and pass them on to their children. Most cost nearly $5,000 for the season, and include a shower, electricity and two chaise lounges. On top of the cabana rental fee, patrons must buy summer memberships ($530 for each adult, with reductions for children and older people), the Times reported.
Jamie Blatman, General Manager of the Silver Gull and Breezy Point Surf clubs, said that because the private organizations are concessions of the National Park Service, they offer daily passes ($30 each for an adult; $20 for children) to the public, the Times reported.
“It’s amazing it’s still here,” said Gelfman, who was slim and tan and dressed for summer: swimming trunks, a T-shirt and espadrilles.