The Real Deal New York

Waldorf Astoria’s new owner to add condos

Chinese insurance company Anbang paid nearly $2B for legendary hotel

February 19, 2015 03:42PM
By E.B. Solomont

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The Waldorf Astoria

President Herbert Hoover lived there for more than three decades. Frank Sinatra maintained a suite there, as did Cole Porter. Of silver screen goddess Marilyn Monroe, her biographer wrote: “She was often acutely lonely in her Waldorf Towers apartment, as only a famed movie star cut off from ordinary mortals can be.”

Now, the new owner of the Waldorf Astoria plans to convert part of the iconic hotel into luxury condominiums, The Real Deal has learned.

Anbang Insurance Group, which paid nearly $2 billion for the Waldorf in a deal that closed last week, will convert the top floors of the hotel into condos.

“We plan to renovate the two towers into luxury residential apartments with world-class amenities and finishes to reflect its culture and social status,” Anbang’s chairman Wu Xiaohui said during a recent talk at Harvard University, according to a transcript of the event obtained by TRD.

“A potential buyer needs to have more than money to qualify for our apartments,” he added.

Hilton Worldwide Holdings agreed to sell the Waldorf Astoria, located at 301 Park Avenue between 49th and 50th streets, to Anbang in October. On Feb. 2, U.S. regulators approved the deal, which closed on Feb. 11.

The Waldorf Towers, which operates as a 181-room boutique hotel within the Waldorf, currently occupies the top floors of the 47-story building.  The Towers has a separate entrance on 50th Street, as well as its own fitness center and elevators. The presidential suites are 1,500 square feet or more and penthouse suites are 1,800 square feet or more, according to the hotel’s website.

The Towers also house one- and two-bedroom residential apartments that are available for rent. One-bedrooms range from 600 square feet to 1,200 square feet, and two-bedrooms start at 1,300 square feet.

Although it’s not known how Anbang will configure the residences, the building is a short carriage ride from Midtown’s ultra-luxury billionaires’ row. It’s just seven blocks south of Macklowe Properties’ 432 Park, which asked $6,894 per square foot on average, Extell Development’s One57, which asked $6,888 per square foot on average and the Chetrit Group’s forthcoming conversion of 550 Madison Avenue, which will ask $4,791 per square foot on average.

Anbang, which has $114 billion in assets according to its website, is planning an initial public offering that could raise $2 billion. In addition to the Waldorf, Anbang plans to buy a 26-story office building at 717 Fifth Avenue from the Blackstone Group for an undisclosed price.

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