Anbang Says Waldorf Astoria Condo Conversion Proceeding Normally
The conversion of New York’s landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel into luxury condominiums is moving forward as planned and no delays are anticipated after the property’s owner, China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co., said its chairman was no longer able to carry out his duties, according to a company spokesman in the U.S.
“Anbang’s U.S. business is operating as normal; we continue to operate our properties and move forward with our development projects,” the company said in a statement emailed by a representative in New York. “We have a large executive team in the United States intensely focused on operating our extensive portfolio here.”
Anbang paid a record $1.95 billion for the Waldorf Astoria in 2015. The Art Deco icon, occupying a full city block on Park Avenue in Manhattan, closed in March to begin the conversion of most of the more than 1,200 hotel rooms to condos. A smaller hotel is scheduled to reopen at the property in a few years.
The insurer said earlier Wednesday in Beijing that Chairman Wu Xiaohui was no longer able to serve in the post and had transferred responsibilities to other senior executives. The news, amid a crackdown on financial risk-taking in China, adds to the mystery surrounding a company that has been on the forefront of a global acquisition spree by Chinese companies.
Anbang bought the Waldorf from Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., which retained a 100-year management contract. Hilton had owned the hotel for more than four decades and took advantage of the Chinese appetite for foreign assets rather than spend a lot of money on renovations. Anbang has purchased almost $8 billion of real estate in the U.S. alone since 2014, much of it from Blackstone Group LP and one-time majority-owned units of Blackstone, including Hilton.
Anbang plans to convert the Waldorf, at 301 Park Ave., into a condominium building with 409 residences, 74 parking spaces and four commercial units, according to preliminary filings with the state attorney general’s office.
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