This Old Horse Stable Will Be One of the Most Insane Clubs in New York
Last year the New York Police Department’s mounted unit announced that it would move from the Hudson River Pier 76 stable it had occupied for a decade to a new uptown haunt, the Mercedes House. Maybe it was kismet that the new space, which has been home to 1,000 luxury-condo residents since 2011, has an automotive name. A car club—the car club, if you live near New York—officially took over the equines’ old spot April 1.
It’s kind of a big deal.
“While we might be a private club, Classic Car Club has never been elitist,” co-founder Michael Prichinello said recently during a private tour of its new space, which sits at the corner of 34th Street and the West Side Highway. “Now that we’re part of Hudson River Park, we will be increasing our event space and weekend activities, like car shows, gallery exhibits, mechanics, and educational programs for kids.”
The Classic Car Club has been a gearhead fixture for 11 years. It offers 38 supercars, including a McLaren 570S, BMW i8, Shelby GT350, Lamborghini Huracan, ’66 Ford GT, and an ’89 Lancia Delta rally car, plus a bunch of track-ready 911 GTs all available to drive. If you're counting that's well over $1 million worth of high-end autos. (My favorite is the ’63 Corvette Stingray in pristine deep blue.) Its just-vacated far West SoHo space was one of the go-to spots for car parties, debuts, and networking events for the automotive industry. This year alone it has hosted debuts for new Singer Design vehicles, Cadillac launches, and McLaren unveilings.
The club works thusly: Members pay $180 in monthly dues and then must purchase “points” that buy them driving days for the car of their choice. A year of driving typically costs $9,000, plus dues, for 35 days behind the wheel. There’s no additional insurance fee; just make sure you return the car with a full tank of gas.
Everything inside the SoHo space had been private, including the bar and lounge. And membership to the club was capped at 450 people. That will change, Prichinello said.
Expanded Membership, Public Access
The new club is bigger, with 28,000 square feet of internal space vs. the old club’s 9,400, plus additional parking and a 15,000-square-foot outside patio area, a quarter of which is right on the water. The old space held dozens of horses and offices for 20 officers. It had radiant-floor-heated stalls for each horse, plus a dirt-floor riding arena under a white dome out front; a hay loft dropped hay from a high attic area directly down to the main floor. That column-free warehouse is now the main showroom, with 31-foot-high ceilings and giant windows out onto the Hudson. Walking around the space it was easy to see how the old police stalls—with the hay loft and horse showers removed—would afford ample sunlight and climate-controlled elegance, basically a state-of-the-art car gallery or museum. This time around, the public can finally have access to many of the cars, too (for looking, not driving).
Prichinello said the club will start offering storage for an additional 20 classic and collectable cars (a MX-5 Miata, Mercedes AMG GT, and 2017 Ford GT are due to join the ranks in the next months), plus storage for boats and paddle boards and immediate water access on a reclaimed public beach. The club won’t provide kayaks for that beach, but people can store small watercraft there without having to buy a membership. A full café operated by the club and some educational rooms will operate toward the front of the building, accessible from the popular jogging and cycling trail that runs the length of Manhattan’s West Side Highway. There will still be a bar, for members only, inside a private lounge.
The renovation will add tall windows, green areas, and places to sit right off the jogging trail so the formerly closed-off space is easily accessible to anyone who wants to ogle a cool car.
Prichinello and two co-founders will allow an additional 25 members to join as driving members and extend “Club House” membership to 1,000 people. The latter grants access to the member lounge and the event space but keeps driving rights restricted.
Club House membership costs $180 a month, with the price expected to exceed $200 later this year. Applications for those open Wednesday, with new members to be inducted in several batches during the summer and fall. (That may be a good option for getting in on this new version of the Classic Car Club early, since the waiting list for driving memberships is four-months long.)
Development on the reconstruction has already started; most will be done by the end of the year. Rather than a grand opening, Prichinello said, he’ll host a series of dinners in the new main gallery for VIPs and friends of the club.
It’s a smart move to do a few of those special suppers, especially considering that all anyone will want to do anyway is just sit with the cars and pick the one they want to drive. Prichinello is fully aware of the demand. It’s a blessing and a curse.
“There will be a few new vintage convertibles for the summer,” he said, smiling. “Those we buy when the right one surfaces. We’re currently on the hunt.”