Sign of the Times: Historic Waldorf Astoria To Become Condos

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The Waldorf Astoria New York in Midtown Manhattan has long been known for fancy galas and dinners, and is a landmark associated with luxury and prestige. After WWII in 1949 it hosted the World Peace Conference, and has seen heads of state and famous folks pass through regularly. Frank Sinatra and Herbert Hoover were counted as residents, and the property was even hailed as the world’s tallest hotel from 1931 to 1963.

Anbang Insurance Group, the Chinese firm that was in the running to buy Starwood earlier this year currently owns the hotel which they purchased in 2014 for $1.95 billion.

Just yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Anbang intends to close down the hotel in 2017 to renovate the property and convert it into condominium apartments with just 300-500 hotel rooms left.

If it comes to pass, this is sad news to see yet another great hotel in New York going the wayside. It means that over 1,000 hotel rooms would be gutted, and just as many jobs lost ranging from housekeepers to room service. It’s true that the hotel has received less-than-glowing reviews over the past year and updates to the property would have most likely improved things, though cost was probably a factor in the condo changeover. Unions in New York are surely responsible in part for the high cost and I’d have thought that such a historic property would have been preserved better, but such is a sign of the times.

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  1. Vicente

    Unions? Don’t see what that has to do with it.

    The driving force is clearly sky-high real estate. Anbang thinks they can cash out.

    I expect you’ll see more conversions like this.

    • Melinda

      @Vicente, it is also clear that the operating & labor cost for hotels in New York is obviously a factor so we agree on that. Unfortunately I think we’ll see more conversions as well.

  2. Lucy

    I stayed at the Astoria a month ago and was very disappointed. The hotel is run down, with toxic smells, unreliable elevators, etc. The new owners sure have their work cut out for them.

    • Melinda

      @Lucy it is sad to hear that what was once such a great property now has gotten so run down and I’m sure it wasn’t as glorious a stay as you had hoped, without the old grandeur. Indeed, the owners will need to give it plenty of TLC for the hotel rooms that will remain not to mention the conversion into condos. No wonder the re-opening date isn’t slated to be until 2020!

  3. Pat

    If the hotel fell into disrepair due to high labor costs, why would they undergo an even bigger renovation project? Renovating a hotel is one thing, but converting it into a condo requires substantially more work.

    I agree with the other commenter; this isn’t a “supply side” phenomenon. There is simply more demand for housing than hotels in Midtown.

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