Rodrigo Nino reportedly invested US$400 million in New York real estate recently, funded from small investments from more than 34 countries, for his new hospitality brand.
Nino is a real-estate developer and economist who launched the Prodigy Network in 2003, which uses crowdfunding to purchase commercial real estate like AKA’s United Nations building in New York – featured in our 2018 trends article on our sister website, Serviced Apartment News.
Nino reportedly invested $400 million in New York real estate recently using crowd funded investments from more than 34 countries for his new hospitality brand. I was delighted to accept his invitation to be one of the first to stay and experience the second of his new Assemblage brand properties – and uniquely the brand’s first hotel apartment concept within a co-working metropolis which recently opened at John Street in the Financial district.
Originally from Colombia, Nino was diagnosed with stage-3 Metastatic Melanoma cancer at the age of 41. After two surgeries, he went on to seek answers outside of the traditional medical community. Terrified of dying, he found an article in National Geographic about ayahuasca – a hallucinogenic brew that scientists claim has the ability to make users “objectively observe one’s thoughts and feelings without associating them with identity”.
He promptly left for Peru to spend two weeks taking the substance and participating in an ayahuasca ceremony, an ancient spiritual healing practice – the latest craze amongst entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley – and reckoning with his own mortality. “I was looking for answers in traditional medicine, I’m a real estate economist, I’m very secular, very evidence and numbers driven. I couldn’t find the answers that would satisfy my craving to deal with this fear,” he said. “When you’re confronted with the potential of dying, it’s a very frightening experience. I saw that we had this physical reality, and we have our individual self in our physical reality which is what I call the physical mind,” Nino said of his own hallucinogenic experience. “But there was the unknown – and it felt very familiar. I had this spark of life. I call it the higher mind.”
Returning to New York, he no longer feared death, 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” – The Assemblage brand was born.
Described by Nino as providing “co-working, co-living, social spaces and natural habitats to those exploring the evolution of humanity through positive impact – a consciousness incubator,” the first Assemblage co-working site is in Manhattan’s NoMad neighbourhood, a 48,000 square feet, 12-storey building that provides its members with yoga, meditation, sound and breath work classes. Guests also have access to various speaking events and workshops, a Tea Ceremony room, a rooftop, a non-alcoholic bar, daily Ayurvedic breakfasts and lunches and more.
Managed by Kokua Hospitality, the John Street property takes the co-living concept to another level and is in my opinion only the second trailblazer to truly differentiate towards a specific audience within the growing co-live and work audience – the other being Zoku in Amsterdam founded by Hans Meyer. Defining its prime audience as those who are at ‘the intersection of technology, consciousness and capital’, The Assemblage is a place of convergence for change makers and doers from all sectors of human endeavour.
Guestrooms are designed for long-term stays with kitchens and smart living rooms that can be transformed into an office or a meeting space, and short stays are welcomed too. Nothing new there you may say, but this highlights only a small aspect of what the property has to offer. Entered via a discreet set of front doors, this mixed-use development encompasses a massive 15 floors of 130,000 square feet with 79 studio and one-bedroom apartments offered at around $400 USD per night short stay.
Complemented with plants, living systems and natural light to support mental health and well-being throughout the property, there are six conference rooms, three meditation rooms, a tea ceremony room, yoga studio, film screening room, events spaces, two outdoor terraces, a rooftop deck, a library, elixir bar, a full restaurant and private dining room, 225 private offices and 275 coworking lounge and hot desk spaces on four communal floors. Membership starts at US$495 per month for all day access to flexible desk and co-working lounge; for $1,600 workers can rent a dedicated private desk; and prices run from $4,500 for businesses that would like to rent private office space for the team.
Nino plans to open another NYC property located at Park Avenue South shortly with branches of the Assemblage in cities around the world. “We truly need to have a place of convergence for those who understand that there is more to them than what they see,” he says. “But we don’t stop there…once you do that, we want you to know that there’s a very specific protocol that you can follow to make change as a function of doing well for yourself.”