As the owner of hip hotels, nightclubs and restaurants in New York City, Eric Goode is used to being in the limelight. But it took him years to come out of his shell about a personal passion for turtles and tortoises.
“Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a love affair with the natural world, and especially with cold-blooded creatures,” said Goode, who is co-owner of the Jane, Bowery and Maritime hotels and also the founder of the Turtle Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that aims to protect endangered turtles and tortoises.
After nudging from supporters, Goode has agreed to throw the Turtle Conservancy’s first-ever benefit this month at the Bowery Hotel. Dubbed “the Turtle Ball,” the star-studded event will be emceed by comedian and actress Sandra Bernhard. Organizers include bold-face names like Graydon Carter and Gretchen Mol.
“We’re going to make turtles supercool,” laughed Goode, who made a name for himself in the 1980s with the Downtown Manhattan nightclub Area.
Goode, who has been involved in conservation for years, founded the Turtle Conservancy in 2005. The group runs the Behler Chelonian Center, a former vacation home of Goode’s in Ojai, Calif., that now serves as a captive breeding and management facility for over 700 endangered turtles and tortoises.
This past year in particular, Goode said his conservation work has taken up much of his time and he’s had to lean heavily on his business partners, Richard Born, Sean MacPherson and Ira Drukier. (While he was tight-lipped about upcoming real estate projects, Goode confirmed that the partners’ long-delayed 185-room hotel project at 180 Ludlow Street is well underway.)
But Goode said his conservation work has a positive effect on his business. The Turtle Conservancy’s “Tortoise” magazine is distributed at his hotels; “It’s amazing how many e-mails I get from people who stay there and like that the owners are conscientious,” Goode said.
And there is some overlap between real estate and conservation. Goode is currently looking to buy and conserve a large parcel of land in North Central Mexico, an area that is home to many endangered tortoises and turtles.
A number of real estate industry players are expected to attend the Turtle Ball, including hoteliers Vikram Chatwal and Ian Schrager and developer Aby Rosen.
Goode said he’s been pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support from colleagues. “I’m really appreciative,” he said. “I honestly never thought I’d be bringing people from the real estate world into my turtle world.”