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Opulent Steinway & Sons Reception Hall to be Considered for Landmark Status

By Amy Zimmer | June 25, 2013 5:40pm
 The Landmarks Preservation Commission agreed Tuesday to hold a hearing on Steinway & Sons' 57th Street shop.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission agreed Tuesday to hold a hearing on Steinway & Sons' 57th Street shop.
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Landmarks Preservation Commission

MANHATTAN — Music lovers lamented when Steinway & Sons sold its 57th Street building to a group of investors in March that gave the legendary piano maker up to 18 months to move out.

But the famously grand ornate octagonal rotunda where countless piano players have been greeted by store reps on their way into the showrooms may get an encore.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission agreed Tuesday to schedule a hearing on the possible historic designation of the reception room and hallway, which is considered one of the city's most impressive neo-Renaissance interiors.

The opulent room — visible from the street through an arched window — has a 35-foot domed ceiling with hand-painted allegorical murals of lions, elephants, goddesses and nymphs depicting the influence of music on human relations, according to the piano company. It's illuminated by a lavish 19th century Viennese crystal chandelier.

"Since opening in 1925, it has been a landmark destination, imbued with a rich history and tradition, eagerly sought out by music enthusiasts, piano students and professionals throughout the world," according to Steinway's website.

When completed, the building's first floor interiors were the talk of the town, featured in the pages of the Architectural Record, Architecture & Building magazine, and The Music Trade Review, according to the LPC.

Steinway sold the 16-story 247,000-square-foot building that houses its flagship showroom for $46 million, the company announced in March.  The deal's total price — which also includes the land that Steinway sold years ago — was not made public, according to reports.

Under the deal, Steinway could remain rent-free in the space for 14 months and then could extend it stay for an additional four months depending on a rent agreement.

The group of investors that purchased the property — JDS Development Group, Property Markets Group and Atlantic Development Group — will likely add another ultra-high end and very tall condo on 57th Street, where the two tallest condo towers are presently rising.  It will be higher than 900 feet, Michael Stern, JDS managing partner, told Bloomberg News.

The building's exterior was landmarked in 2001. If the interior becomes a landmark as well, changes to the façade and the reception room would need approval from the LPC.

Reps for the buyers did not immediately respond to inquiries about the possible interior landmark designation.

No date has been set yet on the hearing.