Friday, July 01, 2016

"People familiar with the matter" say that somebody, possibly the new Chinese owners, plans to turn NYC Mayor de Blasio into condos


by Ken

'Cause you know what they say -- when you're in love, the whole world's turned into condos. Actually, I'm not entirely sure about the "in love" part. I just threw that in to make the thing sound user-friendlier, as I'm pretty darned sure about the "turned into condos" part. In present-day urban planning, if it isn't a candidate for being torn down to make way for a giant high-rise, then what's to be done with it except turn it into condos?

Take the case of the Waldorf=Astoria, one of NYC's most storied hotels and more historic institutions, which people have been murmuring increasingly is getting so tatty and un-cash-cowy as a hotel that there's nothing for it except to turn most of it into condos and the rest into super-deluxe hotel suites that if you have to ask how much they are you can't afford them.

From the Wall Street Journal:
Classic Waldorf Hotel to Be Gutted, Up to 1,100 Rooms Turned Into Condos


China’s Anbang, acquirer of the New York landmark, is finalizing plans to shut the hotel for up to three years and convert as many as three-quarters of its rooms into private apartments.

The Chinese acquirer of the Waldorf Astoria is finalizing plans for an extensive overhaul that would shut the landmark New York hotel for up to three years and convert as many as three-quarters of its rooms into private apartments, people familiar with the matter said.

Anbang Insurance Group Co.’s restoration plan calls for closing down the 1,413-room property in the spring, removing as many as 1,100 hotel rooms and eliminating hundreds of hotel jobs, the people said.

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 $100 million or more, some of the people familiar with the matter said.

The insurer plans to meet with Waldorf representatives during the next couple of weeks to finalize its proposal for the property, some of the people 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 $1 billion, said people familiar with the plan. Anbang already spent $1.95 billion to acquire the property last year, the steepest price tag ever for a U.S. hotel.

The changes will radically transform an 85-year-old institution that has played a storied role in American political and cultural life. 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.

Hotelier Conrad Hilton, who acquired control of the property in 1949, once scribbled on a photo of the hotel that it was “the Greatest Of Them All.”

More recently, the hotel has struggled to live up to its history, and some guests and hoteliers say an upgrade is long overdue. The suites in the Waldorf’s tower building have their fans, but complaints about the hotel’s standard rooms are common. . . .
I'm guessing that by the time the Waldorf reopens there won't be anything about it that can sniggered at as "common." The irony here is that the last renovation of the Park Avenue lobby, largely aiming at restoring it to its once-fabled beauty and grandeur, has been generally accounted a considerable success. Thank goodness that can be expected to be wiped away.

The idea of converting NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to condos apparently has its origins in the conviction that he has advanced so far in his plans to turn the city lock, stock, and barrel over to the League of Greedy NYC Developers (LGNYCD) LLP, building on the efforts of his immediate predecessors, Rudy "Toody" Giuliani and Emperor-Mayor Mike Bloomberg, that his full-time attention to the task will no longer be required. The LGNYCD membership is said to be especially pleased now with completion of the plan to reduce the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to roughly the status and clout of a summer camp's Campers' Council on Academic Activities, previously reported in this space several weeks ago ("A series of NYC mayors have collaborated on taking the 'preservation' out of the Landmarks Preservation Commission").

This account was sent out by the hard-working Historic Districts Council (HDC):

Mayor Bill de Blasio Signs City Council Bill Intro. 775-A Into Law

Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed the City Council bill Intro. 775-A. Despite a unified front on the part of preservation groups and community advocates who called on the Mayor to veto the bill, it was signed into law on Tuesday, June 28, at City Hall. The law will impose timelines on the process for designating properties; something that has not been a part of the Landmarks Law in its 50-year history.

This is the most sweeping change to the Landmarks Law since the 1973 amendments that permitted the designation of interior and scenic landmarks, and allowed the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to act at its own discretion and set its own schedule. 43 years later, the Mayor has approved a City Council action to remove that discretion and place firm deadlines on the agency’s ability to protect historic buildings. This law effectively makes the designation powers of the LPC much more limited, while providing the agency with no additional resources to perform its complex work.

The City Council voted in favor of the bill 38-10 on June 7, 2016.

HDC wishes to thank the preservation community for its vigilance in opposing this legislation, and for reaching out to your City Council representatives. It is important to remember that it is only through the efforts of the hundreds of individuals and organizations who raised their voices that the worst part of this bill, the 5-year moratorium on designation (included in the original Intro. 775 bill in 2015), was removed when this bill resurfaced.
The mayor's office, asked for comment, responded with the usual blather about quaintly so-called "affordable housing," its stock code-phrase for small numbers of units incorporated into LGNYCD high-rise "luxury housing" projects, units that if you have to ask how much they are you can't afford them -- sort of the way the Brits refer to their private schools as "public schools."

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At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, be grateful it's the Chinese in charge of crapping up The Waldorf and not Donald Trump or one of his spawn.

In NY, money always!has the last word and almost every Democrat acknowledges only two masters: Wall St. and Real Estate.

At 10:13 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Can't disagree with either of your points! Thanks for chiming in!



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