This may be the last dance for New York real estate tycoon Robert Gans. The owner of 11 properties in the city, including Hell’s Kitchen’s Metropolitan Lumber & Hardware and Strip joins the Executive Club, has bankrupted a portfolio of his property holding companies amid a web of contentious lawsuits.
Facing foreclosure by lender Mack Real Estate Group, Gans filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after Mack alleged he defaulted on a $130 million loan and defaulted on up to $6 million. dollars of payments last October.
The bankruptcy filing was inserted between an elaborate matrix of ongoing lawsuits by other lenders Extell Development and Eli Tabak’s Bluestone Group (which bought Gans’ debt from Mack in April) and a Gans countersuit. alleging that the two lenders had engaged in a “conspiracy”. to sell his properties under him through strategic stock purchases and foreclosures.
Brooklyn-born Gans began his career in the lumber business, opening five Metropolitan Lumber & Hardware locations before branching out into the real estate and hospitality industries. As well as owning the Scores strip club in Chelsea (the inspiration for the legendary New York Magazine article turned big movie Hustlers), properties on the west side of Gans include a 57,700 square foot assembly on 11th Avenue between W45th and W46th Streets that includes Metropolitan Lumber and Hardware and the 10,000 square foot Executive Club (formerly known as the Penthouse Executive Club), an exotic two-story dance shop featuring multiple stages, a full-service steakhouse, and a hidden dining room for “discreet-seeking guests.”
While the Executive Club may not have the same patina of Hollywood notoriety as Scores, the nightclub has had its fair share of press over the years. In a 2007 New York Times restaurant review titled “Where Only the Salad is Properly Dressed”, critic Frank Bruni described Robert’s “Palace of Pleasure” steakhouse as having “some of the best steaks in New York” and that “No matter what your appetite for the sassy show that accessorizes these steaks, you’ll be excited by the quality of the meat on the plate.” Gans agreed, commenting when opening a Robert’s in Las Vegas: “I think my taste is good enough in any business.”
The future Executive Club property, among Gans’ other properties, is one of many dizzying deals around Midtown’s ever-revolving real estate door. On 8th Avenue, the intersection between Times Square and Hell’s Kitchen proper, the remnants of “Old Midtown” and the new spurt of Hudson Yards-style retail developments have come to a head as investors buy up and transform some of the most notorious artery . A notable example is 691 8th Avenue, once known as the Playpen porn multiplex, which was bought by property giants Tishman Realty for $117 million in 2007 and transformed into a gleaming 450,000 square feet housing the Intercontinental Times Square Hotel and the ground-level Shake Shack (by Crain’s).
Could the Executive Club become the next Midtown Equinox location? Will Metropolitan Lumber & Hardware transform into a luxury-slash-Sweetgreen skyscraper? Gans’ bankruptcy filings effectively suspended lawsuits against his lender, so there could still be steaks and striptease routines sizzling on 11th Avenue.
W42ST has contacted Gans through a representative of Metropolitan Lumber and attorneys who have previously represented him for comment and will update if we have a response.