The Waldorf-Astoria, the famed New York hotel that has entertained and housed US presidents and a World War II general, will be redeveloped into luxury apartments.
Plans are being finalized to shut the American landmark for three years to give way to an extensive overhaul of up to three-quarters of its rooms by its Chinese owners, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Anbang Insurance Group Co. will close the 1,413-room property in the spring, removing as many as 1,100 hotel rooms and eliminating hundreds of hotel jobs.
When the Waldorf reopens, the hotel will feature between 300 and 500 guest rooms upgraded to luxury standards, the people said.
The remaining units will be sold as condominiums.
The vast reduction in Waldorf hotel rooms will lead to the elimination of many room-service, housekeeping and other hospitality jobs.
The Waldorf has about 1,500 hotel employees.
The new owners and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., which will continue to manage the property when it reopens, have reached severance agreements with hundreds of these workers at a cost of US$100 million or more, some of the people familiar with the matter said.
“We continue to explore all options,” an Anbang spokesman said. “We have no definitive plans at this time.”
The redevelopment costs are expected to run to more than US$1 billion, said people familiar with the plan. Anbang already spent US$1.95 billion to acquire the property last year, the steepest price tag ever for a US hotel.
The changes will radically transform an 85-year-old institution that has played a storied role in American political and cultural life, WSJ says.
Occupying a full city block on Park Avenue, the Waldorf gained world-wide attention for its luxury suites, lavish parties and famous guests.
Every president since Herbert Hoover has stayed there, and it has been a New York home to celebrities such as Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Frank Sinatra, and the Duke of Windsor after he abdicated his throne to marry American socialite Wallis Simpson.
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