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When Governor Cuomo announced plans to make Pier 76 a temporary public park by June 1, he took many by surprise. Not least the Classic Car Club, which spent $6 million on renovating its 28,000 square feet of the pier and has over 4 years left on its lease.
As the bulldozers moved in, the car club filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a “defensive move” to preserve its space on the west side pier.
Bloomberg reports New York Classic Motors LLC holds the lease as a tenant of Hudson River Park and received notice at the start of the year that it needed to vacate the space — even though the club had more than 4 years remaining on its lease, according to co-founder Michael Prichinello. The bankruptcy filing will delay demolition until a court ruling is made.
“2020 was very difficult for everybody, and the Classic Car Club did well,” Prichinello told Bloomberg. “We have a couple of thousand members who are really dedicated. We are in a better financial position than we have ever been in our 17 years in New York City.”
When we visited the club this week, the demolition of Pier 76 was well underway, while club members sat among classic McLaren and Porsche cars having dinner and overlooking a Hudson River sunset.
The club has been a riverside oasis for members during the pandemic. “Our members got through it. They used our cars as safe entertainment when no one wanted to get into an Uber or a subway or a plane,” said Prichenello.
The business unit that filed for Chapter 11 listed assets and liabilities of up to $50 million each in its petition. The filing allows the company to continue operating while it works out a plan to repay creditors.
The Classic Car Club was founded in 2005 and replaced the NYPD Mounted Unit at Pier 76 in 2016. The bulk of the pier had been used by NYPD as a tow pound until earlier this year.
We have asked for comments from Governor Cuomo and Hudson River Park on this story, we will update if they respond.