China's Anbang Insurance Group plans to convert as much as three-quarters of the rooms at New York's landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel into apartments. Bobbi Rebell reports.
The 85-year old iconic Waldorf Astoria is getting a major facelift and going condo. The three-year, billion-dollar renovation plan will turn more than a thousand rooms into pricey condominiums. The rest, as many as 500 will remain luxury hotel rooms. Waldorf Astoria is closing for three years for massive renovations starting next spring. The hotel's owner, China's Anbang Insurance Group, is hoping to cash in on the close to $2 billion dollars it spent to buy the hotel from Hilton a couple of years ago. Jonathan Miller, who runs an appraisal firm Miller Samuel in Manhattan, says the timing might be a challenge. (SOUNDBITE) JONATHAN J. MILLER, PRESIDENT & CEO, MILLER SAMUEL INC., (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It's coming after we already had a lot of discussion in the market over the last year, year and a half, about the high-end, the super luxury, so to speak, north of five million dollars. Presumably, the Waldorf units will be high-end units, that the market is challenged by a lot of supply that will impact how long it will take to sell them, and what price they'll actually get." The shift to condo's will however be a cost saver in the long run because there will be fewer room service and housekeeping staff needed. If the plan sounds familiar, it is very similar to the Plaza Hotel conversion about a decade ago.