You’ve co-worked, co-lived and co-exercised. Are you ready to co-commune?
Welcome to the Assemblage, a new club in Manhattan’s upscale NoMad neighborhood. Its evening-only memberships start at $200 per month, all-day use is $900 — and the menu of services tops out at $6,500 for amenities that include a private office with “room to stretch your legs.”
On a recent night Alberto Villoldo, a medical anthropologist, psychologist and shaman, gave a talk in the club’s dim lobby called “Hacking Your Neurology With Sacred Plant Medicine.” To a packed crowd of mostly young urban professionals, some still in suits and ties from the work day, Mr. Villoldo was extolling the benefits of ayahuasca, a psychedelic substance made from Amazonian tree vines, broccoli flower extract and daily doses of omega-3.
“I don’t think there’s a topic that is closer to my heart,” said Rodrigo Niño, the founder of the club. Mr. Niño, 48 and the C.E.O. of Prodigy, a platform that uses crowdfunding to buy commercial real estate, was diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma six years ago. Terrified of dying, he found an article in National Geographic about ayahuasca. He promptly left for Peru to spend two weeks taking the substance and reckoning with his own mortality.
“What I saw from that perspective was that society today was not in very good shape,” Mr. Niño said. “What I saw, in this hallucination, was how all living things were connected as one, but we were not aware of it rationally.”
When Mr. Niño returned to New York, he was no longer plagued by fear of death, he said. But he struggled to integrate his vision of interconnectedness with his daily work. “I had this radical inner knowing that we were all together as one,” Mr. Niño said, “but I was a real-estate developer, an economist, from a mathematical, evidence-based background. I couldn’t prove it.”
He has now decided to give it a try in $400 million worth of Manhattan real estate that include two other Assemblange-branded locations, one on lower Park Avenue and the other in the financial district, that will offer apartments and a hotel.
Mr. Niño said his new company was funded from small investments from more than 34 countries, and that every new qualifying member of the organization will be given the option of investing to become a co-owner of the buildings themselves.
He has donated some of his contemporary art collection to decorate the NoMad club, as well as Peruvian weavings he ordered specially made from the Shipibo tribe whose ayahuasca ceremonies he attended during his trip.
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