In 1981, Harry B. Macklowe, the developer of the Metropolitan Tower, New York, planned a large office tower that would have included not only his own site at the Metropolitan Tower, but also the restaurant's (ie. Russian Tea Room's) and the lot on which Carnegie Hall Tower was erected. There was an agreement with Carnegie Hall about their lot, but Stewart-Gordon, who owned the lot dividing the project, refused to sell. Macklowe also offered to buy the air rights only and to give room for her restaurant inside the new tower building, but Stewart-Gordon declined. No matter what she was offered, Stewart-Gordon refused to sell the lot.
During the planning of the Carnegie Hall Tower at 152 W. 57th St., on the other side of the Russian Tea Room, again Stewart-Gordon declined to sell its site or its air rights. The result is the narrow twenty-foot gap, separating the Metropolitan and Carnegie Hall towers.
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Photo is from here
BTW here is a photo from Sydney, with a scenario somewhat similar to the story above. I wonder if there was a similar story behind this location as well?