Despite some fits and starts, the process of converting 1,000 rooms at the Waldorf Astoria hotel into 375 condo units is nearly complete – and Chinese developer Anbang announced on June 11th that it will be launching sales at the property this coming fall. Douglas Elliman Real Estate will handle sales domestically, while Knight Frank Residential will work to drum up interest overseas.
Anbang is currently under the control of the Chinese government after falling heavily in debt, and as recently as August of 2018 had postponed its Waldorf opening until 2021. But despite a market currently loaded with more sellers than buyers, things appear to be ramping back up, with the developer launching a somewhat cryptic new website along with a formal name for the project: The Towers.
As The Real Deal notes, in addition to a landscape overrun with luxury condos languishing on the market, Anbang will have to contend with increasingly hostile U.S.-China trade relations. Nevertheless, brokers anticipate prices of at least $3,500 per square-foot at The Towers, which is comparably high for Manhattan, indicating that the iconic Waldorf name is still considered a value-add.
In addition to the condos, the Waldorf will retain 350 newly-renovated hotel rooms, as well as restored interiors courtesy of project architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Renderings were released by the firm back in 2017.
In other Waldorf news, Manhattan's Community Board 5 is attempting to hold Anbang's proverbial feet to the fire on a measure requiring that developers converting commercial properties to residential provide residents open access to 50% of a building's roof. Anbang has asserted that since it is not converting the entirety of the Waldorf to condos, the 50% requirement does not apply – and the firm has thus far only reserved a little over 20% of the roof space for recreational use in its plans. When the community board asked Anbang to instead make a donation to the Central Park Conservancy as a gesture of compromise, the developer refused.
The Department of City Planning has yet to weigh in regarding Anbang's development application, which is currently under review. But there is never a dull moment with this project and its underwriters, and further updates are sure to follow.
Mike Odenthal is a staff writer at The Cooperator