The pushy Ciprianis are at it again. The Italian restaurant moguls are trying to get The Rainbow Room to be declared an historical landmark. A bonus perk to such status: The Ciprianis’ landlord, Tishman Speyer, would have less control over changes to their restaurant and potentially less leverage in lease negotiations. That’s brilliant! How can we do the same with our apartment?
NY Observer: Gradually, the letters have begun to accumulate in Robert Tierney’s Lower Manhattan office. They all implore the same thing: landmark status for the Rainbow Room in 30 Rockefeller centre…
The sudden stream of support is no coincidence. Behind the push is the Cipriani family, led by Arrigo Cipriani and his son Giuseppe, the upscale restaurateurs who have run the famed Art Deco restaurant and banquet hall since 1999. In August, the Ciprianis—operators of four local upscale banquet halls and convicted of state tax evasion last year—petitioned the LPC to grant the Rainbow Room landmark status.
And why are the Ciprianis and their powerful friends, including Dick Parsons, so insistent upon landmark status?
The uncommon move is a not-so-subtle jab at the Rainbow Room’s landlord, Tishman Speyer, the powerful and politically connected real estate firm led by Jerry and Rob Speyer. As interior landmark designation would restrict changes or alterations to the restaurant and banquet hall, it would likely weaken the Speyers’ hand in future lease negotiations with Cipriani or any other potential tenant. It would also effectively guarantee that the Rainbow Room, or something very similar, remain the space’s use in perpetuity.
Tishman Speyer has not yet taken a position on the landmarking, though landlords typically resist such moves, as they can curb their ability to charge higher rents. Further, the Speyers and Ciprianis have been engaged in a series of spats over the Rainbow Room, as the restaurateurs have filed multiple lawsuits and the rents in the existing lease are currently being determined via arbitration.
In making the rounds for support of the landmarking, representatives of the Cipriani family have said the impetus is twofold. First, the representatives say, the Cipriani family values landmarks and wants to see the Rainbow Room’s historic look protected, like that of most of the family’s other city venues.
Second, and probably more relevant, Cipriani’s lease expires in 2013, and the family says it is worried that Tishman Speyer will try to convert the 56,000-square-foot venue to office space, which could potentially be rented at higher rates.
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