February 3, 2014

Concordia-Argonaut Club Building On The Market, Going Condo?

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The Concordia-Argonaut Club has put their 52,000 square foot building at 1142 Van Ness Avenue on the market for $21.5 million. Built for the Concordia Club's members in 1909, the Jewish men's club merged with the Argonaut Club in 1939.

With a current membership of 350, a sale would allow the club to cash out and move into a smaller space. That being said, the club Board's preference is to find a hotel or condo developer willing to carve out a space for the club in the existing building.

First Published: February 3, 2014 10:30 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Over the years all the men's clubs have been dying off, with the exception of the OC (no longer just men and not very exclusive), PUC and Boho. The University Club has had trouble for a long time. The Merchants Exchange Club died at least 15 years ago.

Why are clubs here having such a rough time? They seems to be doing well enough in NY and London and Paris.

Posted by: conifer at February 3, 2014 11:10 AM

SF is a young person's town and young people don't go to these tired old clubs anymore and never will.

Posted by: Jimmy (not a Real San Franciscan (TM)) at February 3, 2014 11:15 AM

I don't know... I think there is a lot of interest in clubs like this. Obviously the men's club idea is a bit outdated, but exclusive gathering places are still totally relevant.

Posted by: Rob at February 3, 2014 11:38 AM

Jimmy, what are you talking about? There are people opening up new private clubs like this one aimed at just the audience you're saying will never go to them.

From SFGate in October, New private S.F. club the Battery:

The five-level, 58,000-square-foot club at 717 Battery St. contains a high-end restaurant, four bars, a wine cellar, a library, meeting rooms, a gym and spa, an outdoor garden and 14 hotel rooms, including a penthouse suite with views of the Transamerica Pyramid and the Bay Bridge. A dramatic glass elevator and glass railing on an imposing steel and glass staircase to the lower level are among the design highlights.

While "private social club" connotes money, insularity and elitism to some, these social media millionaires want their establishment to reflect Silicon Valley-style meritocracy. They see it as an egalitarian watering hole where they want diversity, not homogeneity, to rule.

Still, the public cannot apply. Prospective members must be nominated by an existing member, and a membership committee, whose composition and criteria are confidential, decides who will be accepted. Dues are $2,400 a year, about the annual cost of a high-end fitness club, with scholarships for those who need them.

I guess if The Battery is successful, it'll represent a graceful transition of "money, insularity and elitism" from inherited wealth to whatever the social media libertarians in this town mean by the euphemism "meritocracy".

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at February 3, 2014 12:14 PM

Is this Battery truly a private club or just a business using the word club?

Posted by: conifer at February 3, 2014 12:21 PM

I think the "Battery" will fail.

Posted by: Jimmy (not a Real San Franciscan (TM)) at February 3, 2014 12:41 PM

Yes, Jimmy, and when it does it will make a fine homeless shelter.

Posted by: Jake at February 3, 2014 12:49 PM

The Elks Lodge #3 is still around and has a healthy membership that is filling with both blue collar and white collar types in their 30's.

To solve their shrinking membership back in the '80s, they leased out their historic theater, hotel, lodge kitchen (dinner open to the public Fridays), and street frontage (to The Farallon). This has enabled them to stay open and keep the building maintained; the building's exterior was just updated with a historic replica of their period balcony facing Post St.

The Concordia-Argonaut's club's plan to do something similar is a better plan, if they can find the right tenants.

Posted by: Mark Ballew at February 3, 2014 12:59 PM

The Battery is an obnoxious organization which "curates" its members. Not to be believed. Any tech person who accepts their invite should keep it quiet if their reputation has integrity. It's an embarrassment and points to the lack of connection to SF by the ubers. Elitist clubs on top of the insular tech world? What is this, social climbing London or Boston? With any luck - that club won't exist in 12 months.

Posted by: Invented at February 3, 2014 1:07 PM

No one I kniow or would want to know wants to be "curated" by a bunch of rich out-of-town d-bags. Time for the Battery to be "unplugged."

Posted by: Jimmy (not a Real San Franciscan (TM)) at February 3, 2014 1:14 PM

I'd join the Elks if I worked downtown (or maybe the downtown OC) but otherwise I think the issue in San Francisco is the transient nature of the population now and the tech culture which is kind of awkward and inherently anti-(in-person)social.

I wish more of us could be downtown where things like men's clubs can be sustained but in the Bay Area most of us are stuck working in suburbs which can't sustain men's clubs (I know there is a decent Elks in San Mateo but it is nothing like a downtown club)

Posted by: zig at February 3, 2014 2:15 PM

im a member of the south end rowing club. does that count?

Posted by: moto mayhem at February 3, 2014 4:21 PM

So informative and intelligent that Jimmy decided this is a "young persons town".

Posted by: Futurist at February 3, 2014 4:23 PM

conifer wrote:

> Over the years all the men's clubs
> have been dying off

The book "Bowling Alone" talks about this and the book "The Vanishing American Jew" talks about the other reason.

Less men in general are going to men's clubs and less people are going to church/temple. It is no surprise that a religious mens club is not growing.

P.S. As my friends parents die off my Mom often sends me the links to their obits. It is amazing how many were in three or MORE clubs (e.g. PU, Bohemian, Family) and most were in at least two and sometimes THREE country clubs (e.g. SFGC, Burlingame, Cypress). Of all their kids (many with MASSIVE trust funds (who don't have to think about money) I only know ONE that is in more than a single men's club and NONE that are in more than one country club...

Posted by: FormerAptBroker at February 4, 2014 12:28 PM

And a couple of other reasons. When I was a kid, all these clubs had one-armed bandits that subsidized their overhead. And then there was the 3 martini lunch, 100% tax deductible. Gone, all of these.

Posted by: Jim at February 4, 2014 5:12 PM

As the two posters correctly observed, there is in California much less pressure for people to find validation of their status in membership, including multiple memberships, of exclusive clubs.

One of my friends who lives in Paris was pleased that her daughter got married to a man "with a very good name." That is very continental.

On the east coast, it is important where you went to college and graduate school, with some schools having more social status than academic excellence.

Here in California, as the joke goes on, what is most important is what you do.

These other two measures, which are related to exclusive clubs, are less important here, and that may be why some city and country clubs are having such a hard time.

On the other hand, more seriously, there are memberships and honors related to individual achievement, and those have importance in Europe, Britain, and both east and west coasts, and most other places.

This many not explain this phenomenon completely.

Posted by: conifer at February 4, 2014 5:34 PM

I would rather scratch my eyeballs out than pay good money to hang out with new rich techies .... Battery just sounds like suicidal social misery ... when a walk thru any of our numerous world class parks sounds like bliss....

Posted by: 4oceans at February 4, 2014 7:38 PM

Worth noting that this is the remaining part of Van Ness frontage on that block not part of the future CPMC Medical Office Building site.

Posted by: Daniel at February 5, 2014 12:24 AM

It seems like some comments are from people who feel like they are being forced to join these clubs at gun point. If it is not your cup of tea, don't join or think about them. If others wish to participate, it is their right to.

Posted by: Serge at February 5, 2014 2:08 PM

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