Lender files to foreclose on Princeton Club of New York

Alumni hangout defaulted on $39M mortgage at 15 West 43rd Street

15 West 43rd Street (Google Maps) Princeton Club
15 West 43rd Street (Google Maps)

The days of Ivy League alumni meeting for dinner, networking and squash could be over at the Princeton Club of New York.

The private-member club defaulted in October on a $39 million mortgage and the holder of the note sued Tuesday to foreclose on the Midtown building.

The creditor, an LLC, has asked the court to hand over control of the 10-floor building at 15 West 43rd Street, which the shuttered Princeton Club has called home for almost 60 years.

The plaintiff also urged the court to appoint a receiver to seize control of the 63,900-square-foot building and to make sure all payments on the property are made.

The lawsuit also named the Criminal Court of New York, Nouveau Elevator Industries and A-1 Expert Installation to address whatever interest each entity might claim to have in the property.

Nouveau and A-1 recently filed mechanic’s liens against the property that totaled more than $595,000. The Criminal Court of New York is a judgment creditor of the Princeton Club in the amount of $2,000, according to the lawsuit.

The Princeton Club has yet to comment on the matter.

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In December, 15 West 43rd Street LLC purchased the defaulted loan from Sterling National Bank. The bank had granted the club six months of forbearance, but when that expired in September, the bank brought in Newmark to sell the loan. The club closed indefinitely the following month.

The Princeton Club is also facing a lawsuit filed in March by the union that represents the club’s employees. Local 6 Hotel, Restaurant & Club Employees and Bartenders Union accused the club of failing to post an agreed-upon $1.1 million bond that would fund severance for laid-off workers.

Tax records paint a picture of an organization hemorrhaging cash. The club ran about a $3.4 million deficit in 2019, with operating expenses of $14.9 million and revenue of $11.5 million.

By the end of 2019, the club had liabilities of $49.4 million against assets of $30.3 million.

The Princeton Club had been operating in some form since 1866 and moved into its current digs in 1963. The private club had two restaurants, a banquet space, squash courts and 58 rooms for guests. Affiliate members from prestigious universities such as Williams College and Georgetown University were also welcomed.

However, the Princeton Club has been closed for the better part of the past two years because of its financial problems and the pandemic. It reportedly lost about one-third of its 6,000 dues-paying members. Annual dues in 2019 ranged from $350 for new graduates to $3,255 for those 15 years out.

The Princeton Club has no financial relationship with Princeton University. It had explored a sale and even asked for help from the university, which last June had a $37.7 billion endowment, but nothing worked out.