A new deal and more construction at Waldorf Astoria, though opening date is delayed
Photo via Wikimedia
When the iconic Waldorf Astoria closed in 2017 for the massive renovation promised when Chinese company Anbang Insurance Group acquired it in 2014, the hotel’s future held jumbo condos and massive guest rooms. The fate of the Park Avenue landmark has been a topic of drama and discussion ever since, especially given the takeover of Anbang by the Chinese government after the incarceration of the company’s chairman, Wu Xiaohui, last year during a fraud investigation. The New York Post now reports that although contractor AECOM Tishman has signed a deal with Anbang and construction is underway for the promised 350 condos and 350 hotel rooms, the project’s completion date has been moved from 2020 to 2021.
Anbang and Hilton, the hotel’s operator, are still promising jumbo guest rooms that will span a minimum of 650 square feet, twice the city’s average of 325 square feet. The Chinese officials who oversee Anbang remain committed to the project–executives arrived from Beijing last week to toast the contract with Tishman–and the hotel was not included in the US luxury hotel portfolio that cash-strapped Anbang has put up for sale (though the Essex House on Central Park South was included). And construction is definitely happening behind the dreary sidewalk bridges on Park Avenue as the project moves past the interior demolition phase.
But it’s still not a sure thing that Anbang will keep the limestone-and-brick icon of New York City celebration and style, whose interior artifacts were carted off in the spring by architectural salvage company Olde Good Things and put up for sale. There are still many unknowns, and nobody’s talking.
French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon is on board to design the new hotel interiors and guest rooms, and SOM has signed on as the project’s architect. The condos that will comprise space once taken up by the hotel’s 1,413 guest rooms will be massive as well, with an average of 1,747 square feet each and four top-floor units that will be 6,100 square feet each. The official word is that the public will continue to have access to the building’s landmarked interior spaces like its grand West Lobby on Park Avenue.
For now, project officials are offering enthusiastic statements for the hotel’s future. Andrew Miller, head of real estate development for Anbang’s US division said, “We look forward to working alongside [Tishman] to carry out one of the most extensive restoration and renovation projects in New York City’s history…Anbang understands the magnitude and responsibility of this project.” Global brand head for Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts division Dino Michael said the the new Waldorf “will set a new standard for luxury and serve as the flagship for other Waldorf Astoria brand.”