Luxury condos at the Waldorf Astoria hotel are expected to go on sale in the fall, as the historic property’s Chinese owner advances its redevelopment plans despite a market glut and political tensions with the U.S.
Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group Co. bought the Waldorf for $1.95 billion in 2015, a record price for a U.S. hotel. In 2017, it shut down the property to renovate and convert hundreds of the more than 1,400 guest rooms into private residences.
Chinese officials took control of Anbang in 2018 after saying they suspected illegal activity by the insurer. Now, Anbang has hired Douglas Elliman Real Estate to sell 375 apartments at the Waldorf, according to the firm. The broker said it was working with London-based Knight Frank Residential to help find buyers abroad.
The Waldorf condos will range from studios to five bedrooms. Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. will manage the residences and the hotel. The residences are expected to be ready for move-in and the hotel to reopen in 2021.
Douglas Elliman declined to discuss how much they will ask for the apartments. But other brokers suggested the listing prices would likely be on par with the city’s highest-priced condos, around $3,500 a square foot or more.
Douglas Elliman is looking to highlight the rich history of the 88-year old Waldorf. The landmark property occupies a full city block on Park Avenue, and it gained world-wide attention for its luxury suites, lavish parties and famous guests. It has been a New York home to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Frank Sinatra, and the Duke of Windsor after he abdicated his throne to marry American socialite Wallis Simpson.
“It’s a chance to own a piece of New York history and all the stories that go with it,” said Susan de França, chief executive of Douglas Elliman Development Marketing. In a statement, Andrew Miller, executive director of development at Anbang, called the Waldorf “one of the most special addresses in the world.”
The move at the Waldorf comes at a challenging time for Manhattan luxury apartments. The number of unsold new Manhattan condos, which have prices typically skewed toward the top 10% of the market, more than doubled to 7,983 in 2018 compared with 2015, according to real-estate appraiser Miller Samuel Inc.
The Waldorf condos will hit the market as the supply of new luxury apartments is expected to be at a peak.
“There is over building, and there is too much supply,” said Donna Olshan, head of Olshan Realty Inc., a New York brokerage firm that tracks luxury real- estate sales.
At the same time, demand for luxury condos has been falling. Wealthy Chinese buyers have pulled back under pressure from the Chinese government to keep capital in the country. Other international buyers have retreated during periods of uncertain politics at home. Owners have had to discount prices to sell their luxury condos.
Recent changes to U.S. tax law have also reduced the incentive for Americans to own property in high-tax states like New York, while stock-market volatility has made many hesitant to spend money on expensive real estate.
Simmering tensions between Beijing and Washington also could complicate sales in a building controlled by the Chinese government, some brokers say. U.S. officials recently have escalated their warnings about Chinese spying intended to steal government secrets and the heist of intellectual property from corporations and academia.
“There’s uncertainty how this is going to shake out,” said appraiser Jonathan Miller of the tensions between the U.S. and China. “So it makes it a challenging environment until that is stable, because the one thing all purchasers don’t like is uncertainty.”
Ms. de França said the Waldorf condos would appeal to buyers because of the hotel’s glamorous past and because the property would provide residents with access to hotel amenities such as room service, its spa and venues for dining and entertaining.
“It’s uniqueness puts us in a class of our own and the wide array of unit sizes and types opens up the universe of buyers,” she said. “Some properties only appeal to the $30 million buyers.”
—Katherine Clarke contributed to this article.
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Source: Housing Trends Feed