By Terry Trucco
If eating Waldorf Salad at the Waldorf Astoria is high on your bucket list, consider yourself warned: the clock is ticking.
Park Avenue’s most celebrated 85-year-old landmark is to close next spring for a top-to-toe renovation that could take three years. Personality change is more like it. The 21st-century spruce-up, expected to cost more than $1 billion, will transform much of the towering building into luxury condos, shrinking the hotel from 1,421 rooms to a mere 300 to 500, as reported in the Wall Street Journal. And just like that, New York’s fifth largest hotel will morph into a five-star boutique hotel embedded in an apartment tower like The Plaza, the Fifth Avenue landmark that converted its most desirable rooms into luxury condos in 2009.
Though the timeline for the close is news, something like this has been expected since China’s Anbang Insurance Group purchased the hotel from Hilton Worldwide for nearly $2 billion in 2014. In a speech at Harvard early last year Anbang Chairman Xiaohui Wu strategically dropped breadcrumbs, noting that luxury condos were in the Waldorf’s future — exclusive ones at that. “A potential buyer needs more than money to qualify for our apartments,” the CEO from Communist China told the Ivy League crowd. (more…)