Steinway Says it's Close to Selling 57th St. Piano Showroom

Buyer Could Develop Building for Hotel or Residential Use

Wednesday, March 06, 2013 - 05:45 PM

Steinway & Sons said Wednesday it is in “advanced negotiations” with a buyer for Steinway Hall, its longtime home on West 57th Street. The company has been actively trying to sell the elegant piano showroom for several years now, and in November disclosed a letter of intent to complete the sale for $195 million.

The company told investors in a conference call that the process has taken longer than anticipated, due in part to the complexities of the company’s lease. The transaction would be a three-way deal in which Steinway, which owns the building, will receive $56 million and the owner of the land will get $140 million.

"It has to do with the complexities of the ground lease,” said Steinway CEO Michael Sweeney. “I’d have thought we were close to making a deal.”

“All of us at Steinway agree there’s no particular reason we should own a 17-story office building at 57th and Sixth. The idea that we would sell the building is something we’ve all agreed to if there is fair value.” He added: “We’re very near the end of that process where the market will speak to us one way or another.”

Addressing questions about Steinway’s future in Manhattan, Sweeney said the company will continue to have a “significant physical presence in New York City" if it moves out of Steinway Hall and sales and rental services wouldn't be interrupted.

Sweeney left open the possibility that the piano maker could stay at Steinway Hall if a suitable buyer isn’t found. If the company doesn't move, however, it wouldn’t be able to reap the kind of income from leasing out the space to office tenants than if the building were sold. That is partly because the building requires significant upgrades. But, Sweeney added, “real estate developers believe it has highest potential as a high-end residential or hotel" building.

Steinway Hall was built by the Steinway & Sons piano company in 1925 as a showroom for its instruments. With its marble columns, wood paneling and ornate ceilings, the space contains three floors of concert grands, baby grands and uprights. The building is presently home to the company’s sales, marketing and service departments and it hosts concerts in its two-story rotunda.

In the past, the building's upper floors were rented out to office tenants including The Economist magazine but they are currently vacant. Steinway Hall was registered as a historic and cultural landmark in 2001, meaning the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission must approve any new uses or changes.

Tags:

More in:

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Comments [8]

Barbara Schwartz from New Fairfield, Ct.

The first thing to be cut out of the school curriculum is music, then art. The music stores are closing one after the other, neighbors complain about the noise of kids practicing. What about what might be needed for the soul? Guess its the all-important sport of the moment. What a shame. It says something about our culture and its not good.

Nov. 15 2013 10:27 AM
Music Lover from NYC

The sale of Steinway Hall is not symbolic of the demise of culture. It is a sign of the expense of even the cheapest Steinway piano. The 5'1" baby grand costs $64,000! The 46" upright costs $23,000!

Mar. 17 2013 12:52 AM
judith perle - princeton,nj

Re: SHOWDOWN AT HIGH NOON
I love Jasha Heifetz, but he sounded like he was on SPEED when he played
Mendelsohnn's Violin Concerto in E. Itzhak Perlman plays it like he's
making love to this piece of music...much more feeling.

Mar. 13 2013 01:06 PM
Joanne Theodorou from NYC

Mr. Kenneth Land is absolutely correct, spot on. In addition to his comments, we have all been reading this past year about the rejection of pianos in apartment buildings and the absolute TRASHING of beautiful pianos, you can't even donate them anyone, simply not wanted. No one studies piano anymore, simply no patience nor attention span...the digital age has taken over. I hope Steinway is telling the truth that they say they will maintain a presence in NYC, and are not simply trying to assuage us.

Mar. 13 2013 12:06 PM
MT

It is just a real estate evolution.
They are right, they do not need an office building at 57th & 6th...

As for the dark ages, yes, I agree. But that's how it has always been in this country, and it will never change.

Mar. 08 2013 07:47 PM
esquared from NYC

Hoping that a Starbucks, Apple Store, Duane Reade, bank, Abercrombie and Fitch... won't be moving-in here.

Mar. 08 2013 09:49 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

STEINWAY HALL is a treasure to all of us who respond to cultural activities enshrined in glamourous surroundings.
I performed in their upstairs performance concert hall and auditioned for agents who found the location hospitable. With the downsizing of the classical music enthusiasts and the stores like Carl Fisher in the Cooper Union area of NYC and the G. Schirmer store across from Carnegie Hall and Patelson's Music House back of Carnegie Hall that closed 3 years ago and this past June the , the Colony Music Store on Broadway and 51st, and the Tower Records, Sam Goodys and Borders Music and Book Stores and the loss many years ago of the classical music radio station WNCN, all starting around 25 years ago, we see the commercialization of the arts community to the benefit of less talented but more closely identifiable to the "average man in the street." We are in a DARK AGES OF CULTURE IN THE USA. BUT HAVE NO FEAR, A RENAISSANCE IS ON ITS WAY, maybe in our lifetimes !!!

Mar. 08 2013 09:40 AM
Roger Grunke from Tampa, FL

Thank goodness the building is Landmarked!

Mar. 06 2013 11:36 PM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.

Follow WQXR 

Sponsored

About WQXR Blog

Engage and interact with the WQXR hosts online.

Feeds