Anbang Insurance Group plans to shut down the Waldorf Astoria hotel for up to three years while it converts the majority of the rooms into condominiums.
The Chinese insurer, which bought the hotel for $1.95 billion from the Blackstone Group last year, will turn 1,100 rooms into condos. Hilton Worldwide, which currently operates the Waldorf Astoria, will manage the remaining 300 to 500 rooms as a smaller luxury hotel. The conversion will cost up to $1 billion.
The reduction in the hotel’s size will leave hundreds of hospitality jobs by the wayside. Anbang and Hilton already signed severance deals with those workers at a total cost of $100 million, sources told the Wall Street Journal.
The Real Deal first reported Anbang’s condo conversion plans last year.
“To achieve the high value-creation, we plan to renovate the two towers into luxury residential apartments with world-class amenities and finishes,” the firm’s chairman Wu Xiaohui said in a speech at Harvard last year. “At the same time, we will build the hotel section into a super five-star hotel, delivering unparalleled customer experience.”
Chinese insurance regulators are currently scrutinizing Anbang for its strategy of offering short-term policies to consumers and then tying that money up in long-term investments, potentially causing an asset-liability mismatch. [WSJ] — Konrad Putzier