Photo via Wiki Commons
In the coming weeks, the renovation of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel will finally begin–a three-year process to convert much of the building to luxury condos. Hilton Worldwide Holdings, who had owned the landmark since 1972, agreed in 2014 to sell the 1,413-room hotel to Beijing-based financial and insurance company Anbang Insurance Group for $1.95 billion. Since then, the interior was landmarked, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was tapped to design the project, and the building closed to begin work. Now the New York Post reports that post reno, the Waldorf will only hold 350 hotel rooms–a number that’s “at the low end of recent estimates and much smaller than the number former Waldorf owner Hilton had expected,” according to the paper.
The remaining 350 hotel rooms promised by Anbang after the renovation is a huge cut from the 1,413 it was operating when the building shuttered this spring. (Early reports suggested that the conversion would result in 840 renovated hotel rooms and 321 condos.) The vast majority of the building’s remaining square footage–minus the ballrooms, restaurants and lobby–will be used to build 350 residential condos. Anbang tapped Aecom Tishman to move forward with the project.
According to the Post, the remaining hotel room count “has been a major bone of contention between Anbang and Hilton.” After the sale, Hilton maintained a 100-year management agreement to operate the hotel. According to sources, the hotel chain is concerned that downsizing the Waldorf’s flagship property will weaken the nearly 30 Waldorf-branded properties that Hilton operates worldwide.
In the past few months, Anbang has secured permits, worked on its design plans and preserved some of the property’s most famous items. This spring, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and renowned interior designer Pierre Yves Rochon released renderings with the intention to “protect [the] beloved spaces and restore original features of the Waldorf not seen for decades.”
Anbang, with SOM, announced plans to reinstate features of the hotel that have been lost over the years, such as slender frames around the exterior windows, maple burl wood panels on the main lobby walls, and “dramatic indirect lighting.” More involved plans call for moving the reception desks south of the lobby and opening up three coves in the Grand Ballroom ceiling.
[Via the New York Post]
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Neighborhoods : Midtown East