Auction set for long-vacant East Village school as owner vows to keep fighting

Madison Realty has been trying to foreclose on P.S. 64 since 2018

Gregg Singer’s languishing school building in the East Village is headed to the auction block after a judge gave his argument to save the property a failing grade.

Singer has been trying to hang onto the site at 605 East 9th Street, formerly Public School 64, against a foreclosure attempt from lender Madison Realty Capital since 2018, and was initially successful in delaying the proceeding. But early last year, a state court judge ruled that Madison could move ahead.

That didn’t deter Singer from putting the long-vacant 152,000-square-foot property near Tompkins Square Park on the market in October in a last-ditch attempt to sell or lease it. But a judge put a dent in those hopes, too, entering a judgment for foreclosure and sale of the property in December.

The judge also agreed with a report from a court-appointed referee that Madison was owed $89.9 million for principal, interest and other charges.

Singer disputed the interest and charges, arguing that the report lacked a “breakdown by month of the Prime and LIBOR rates, making it impossible to verify the accuracy of the calculations.”

Judge Melissa Crane quickly shot down that argument.

“The note explains the method for calculating the relevant interest rate in its first paragraph,” she said.

This week, the judge set an auction for the property at the Hilton New York Midtown Fifth Avenue on March 22.

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Despite the rulings and the pending auction, Singer says the fight is not over and that he plans to amend his pleading and present new evidence he was “finally able to obtain.”

“We expect our rights will be fully vindicated and we will ultimately prevail and be allowed to have the building be a benefit to the community,” he said.

Singer bought the school, which had been closed since the late 1970s, for $3.15 million in 1999. He hoped to redevelop the site as a college dormitory, but blamed the City Department of Buildings, which he said was pressured by the City Council, for opposing his plans and denying him permits.

In 2016, Madison provided Singer with a $44 million loan for the site.

Singer claimed he put more than $60 million into the property, including $35 million in interest and $5 million in legal fees. In 2018, he sued the city in federal court, claiming a conspiracy to block his efforts. That same year, Madison filed to foreclose on the property, alleging that Singer failed to pay off the loan by the maturity date.

At the onset of the pandemic, Singer offered free use of the property as a triage center for people with Covid.

In her decision last year granting Madison’s motion for summary judgment and allowing it to proceed with the foreclosure, Crane wrote that Singer’s responses, including a 25-page document that lacked a table of contents, amounted to a “rambling litany of defenses.”