Since WW2 U.S. Presidents have traditionally booked the entire 42nd floor of the Waldorf Astoria while staying in Manhattan, but as Bobby Dylan sings “things have changed.” Now that the huge Chinese –owned insurance conglomerate Anbang Insurance Group purchased Park Avenue’s Waldorf for $1.95 billion in October 2014, President Obama citing possible electronic eavesdropping concerns now books Lotte New York Palace, a South Korean owned hotel while in Gotham.
Media watchers are guessing the Chinese interests intend on spending another billion or so to renovate the 1931 art deco icon into luxury condominiums. Of the 1,400 rooms now available about 1,000 will be consolidated into condos with 300 to 500 remaining as hotel rooms. The rehab will close the 47-floor hotel in the spring of 2017 and reopen three years later. Hilton is expected to continue managing the hotel.
Architectural details have yet to be released on the Waldorf Astoria conversion.
|19th century original Waldorf=Astoria hotels (background), which is now the site of the Empire State Building|
So, until then, let’s catch up on a bit of architectural history.
The original 1890s combined Waldorf and Astoria hotels that were built by Astor cousins William Waldorf Astor and John Jacob Astor, IV were demolished and became the site of the present Empire State Building. The new Waldorf Astoria was rebuilt at its present Park Avenue location shortly thereafter.
The then brand-new Waldorf Astoria hotel opened on October 1, 1931 and immediately made history — it was the largest and tallest hotel in the world at the time. It still spans an entire city block on Park and Lexington Avenue between 49th and 50th streets.
The Waldorf Astoria was designed by the leading hotel architectural firm of the day, Schultze & Weaver, who also designed the Biltmore in Los Angeles, The Breakers in Palm Beach, Coral Gables Biltmore, the Park Lane in New York along with Manhattan’s Lexington, The Pierre and the Sherry-Netherland.
The partners were Leonard Schultze and S. Fullerton Weaver while Lloyd Morgan was the firm’s lead architect on the Waldorf Astoria.
The hotel-to-housing flip isn't the city's first reports the Wall Street Journal: “In 2007-8, Israeli-owned real estate company Elad Properties performed a partial hotel-to-condo conversion at the historic Plaza Hotel.