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A blog from CityRealty (Links below will take you to the 6sqft site)

Carter's View

From Archives Russian Tea Room site plans
By Carter Horsley Wednesday, February 1, 2006
RTR Funding Group, of which Gerald Lieblich is president, plans to enlarge the former Russian Tea Room building at 150 West 57th Street to create 17 condominium apartments, according to an article by Louise Kramer in today's edition of The New York Post.

The existing building is about six-stories tall and the Post article stated that Costas Kondylis is the architect for a 29-story-high building on the site with a restaurant in the lower commercial section of the building and full-floor and duplex apartments above.

RTR acquired the mid-block property in 2004 for about $20 million from the U.S. Golf Association that had bought it with the intent of creating a golf museum two years earlier for about $16 million when it had fallen into bankruptcy.

Mr. Lieblich, who recently has been involved in the renovated by the Loew's Paradise Theater in the Bronx, told CityRealty.Com today that he had "no comment" about the Post article.

In a letter to The New York Times July 29, 2002, singer and songwriter Judy Collins wrote that "for forty years I called the Russian Tea Room a home away from home, eating and celebrating in its glorious, painting-filled, elegant, samovar-studded, red, gold, light-filled place, an ante-room to all the glamour and gifts, sizzle and pulse, art, intelligence and determination of this great city."

The fabled restaurant opened in the late 1920s, a few steps to the east from Carnegie Hall. It closed in 1996 but Warner LeRoy, the restaurateur who created Maxwell's Plum and Tavern on the Green, reopened it four years later after extensive alterations that did not skimp on gilt.

Faith Stewart-Gordon, who owned the restaurant from 1967 to 1996 when it was one of the city's major celebrity haunts, wrote a book about it: "The Russian Tea Room: A Love Story," Scribner, 1999.

In the late 1980s, she declined to sell the property to Harry Macklowe who was interested in building a major new mixed-use building adjacent to Carnegie Hall. Mr. Macklowe proceeded to build the black-glass-clad, angled monolith known as Metropolitan Tower, one of the city's most attractive skyscrapers, just to the east of the restaurant building.

Rockrose Associates then built the very handsome Carnegie Hill Tower, slighter taller than Metropolitan Tower, just to the west of the restaurant building, again without her building or air rights which they had sought.

Meanwhile, Ian Bruce Eichner developed the even taller CitySpire mixed-use skyscraper directly across 56th Street from the back of the restaurant building, creating midtown's most vertiginous spot.
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Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.