Former Chair of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke speaks in April 2012 at the Princeton Club of New York. In the background is a portrait of former Princeton President Shirley Tilghman.
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Pandemic closures deprived the club of operating income, the club’s president wrote

Editor’s note: Since this story was published, club president Christine M. Loomis ’72 wrote to members saying the weeklong closure is now “indefinite.” The story has been updated.

The Princeton Club of New York is closed indefinitely as the bank holding its mortgage has declared it in default.

Sterling Bank of New York has begun the process to auction the loans, club president Christine M. Loomis ’72 wrote in an email to members. The club has occupied its 10-story building in midtown Manhattan since 1963.

Loomis wrote that New York’s mandatory closures during the pandemic kept the club closed or only partially open for a year, depriving it of operating income. Still, the club continued paying utilities, real estate taxes, employee benefits, and salaries for a skeleton staff. It also continued its payments to Sterling until March 2021, when it received a six-month forbearance. That ended in September, and the club couldn’t accept the bank’s offer of another month with “punitive interest rates and conditions.”

The club has brought Sterling “several friendly prospective note-buyers who were interested in investing in our Club and community,” but the bank chose to continue with the auction, Loomis wrote. Emlen Harmon, director of investor relations at Sterling, declined to comment.

“While the auction does not close until the end of November, our financial situation means that the club is no longer able to operate until we know who will be the buyer of our debt,” Loomis wrote in a subsequent email dated Oct. 29. 

Bloomberg reported the club’s mortgage debt is $39.3 million and its annual operating expenses are about $15 million. It also said that the club lost one-third of its 6,000 members during the pandemic. Its dues-paying members are alumni of Princeton and also colleges including NYU, the London School of Economics, Fordham University, and more, according to its website.

The club tried to enlist the University’s help to stay open, but was told repeatedly it will not receive support, Loomis wrote. The club was founded independently from Princeton in 1899 and is not recognized as a formal alumni association. 

“The University is aware that their decision not to support the club means the club may cease to exist,” Loomis wrote.

University spokesman Mike Hotchkiss said in an email that Princeton does not financially support the New York club or any others like it, and he referred questions about conversations between the University and the club to the club. The club’s leaders did not comment. When The Daily Princetonian asked for comment, a University official said the New York alumni association provides programming in the area and alumni there also “benefit from easy access to campus events.”

The Princeton Club of New York was founded in 1866 and had four locations in Manhattan prior to the current clubhouse on West 43rd Street. It has accommodations for overnight stays as well as squash courts, a gym, two restaurants, and private meeting spaces. 

Loomis told members they continue to have access to reciprocal clubs including the Penn Club, Cornell Club, and the National Arts Club, and leaders are looking for more reciprocal partners.