Lender Files Cases to Seize Shuttered Wagner Hotel – Trade Observer
Trouble is piling up for owners of The wagnera section hotel in Battery Park City.
The lender of the property, Westbrook Partnerssued the hotel owner Howard Wuhis partner Taylor Woods and companies related to their business, Urban commonsfor allegedly defaulting on a $96 million loan Westbrook made to The Wagner in 2018, according to a lawsuit filed in New York County Supreme Court Thursday.
Westbrook claimed the duo and Urban Commons defaulted on the loan in 2020 and want to force the sale of the hotel to get their money back before Wu and Woods pay off one of their other debts.
Westbrook, his attorneys and Urban Commons did not immediately respond to requests for comment. lawyer for urban municipalities, Derek Wolman, declined to comment. The suit was first reported by Crain’s New York Business.
Urban Commons purchased the 298-room hotel from 2 West Street for $147 million in October 2018 from Millennium Partners and Westbrook, with Westbrook loaning $96 million to partially fund the purchase.
The Wagner operated under the Ritz-Carlton Hotel brand until 2017 when its former owners obtained Highgate Hotels as the new operator, much to the anger of the resort’s residents, who claimed to have been promised apartments above five star accommodation.
But Wu and Woods had big plans to convert the hotel, which is located on the lowest 12 floors of the 38th floor. Millenium Point Condominiuminto a luxury hotel destination and earn a pretty penny, according to a separate lawsuit the company filed in New York County Supreme Court in May.
Their plans were derailed after the pandemic and they were forced to close the hotel in April 2020. While New York’s hospitality industry has recovered somewhat, The Wagner did not. A Friday phone call to The Wagner went straight to a voicemail saying The Wagner was ‘temporarily closed’. A phone call to another number was not returned.
The Urban Commons loan matured seven months after the closing, and the company failed to repay it, Westbrook said in court documents. The lender argued it should be paid before Urban Commons repays its other creditors, which include a building maintenance company, a consultant and an elevator engineer.
Urban Commons, however, blamed the Battery Park Municipal Authority (BPCA) for its financial difficulties.
The Wagner sits on land owned by the BCPA. In a lawsuit in May, Urban Commons claimed the BCPA delayed the process of finding a new hotel operator after Highgate decided to vacate the building in August 2020.
As a result, Urban Commons “bleds millions in cash a year” to retain ownership, the company claimed in its lawsuit.
The BPCA declined to comment.
Meanwhile, Highgate litigated in California bankruptcy court that Urban Commons had failed to honor a contract requiring it to cover Highgate’s operating expenses at the Wagner. Separately, Wu, Woods and Urban Commons have also been sued for allegedly defrauding an investor and keeping his million dollars intended to buy 18 struggling hotels after the deal fell through, The real deal reported.
Urban Commons was accused of pocketing $2.4 million from COVID-19 relief loan intended to pay its employees queen mary ship in Long Beach, California, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Celia Young can be contacted at [email protected].