New York City on Tuesday landmarked some lavish public interiors at the Waldorf Astoria to save them as the hotel’s Chinese owners start a multiyear renovation that will produce hundreds of private condominiums.
Nine members of the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to preserve two dozen original spaces of the grand Park Avenue hotel that opened in 1931. The commission must approve any future changes.
China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co. bought the Waldorf in 2015 for nearly $2 billion from Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. The makeover involves converting hundreds of guest rooms into condominiums, while Hilton will continue to run a diminished hotel when it reopens in two to three years.
The landmarks vote protects parts of the first three floors of the 47-story building, including the grand ballroom and balconies, the entrance floor mosaic assembled with 140,000 marble tiles, and the lofty lobby with its chiseled tower supporting a small Statue of Liberty.
Also landmarked are vestibules, foyers, lounges and arcades graced with gilded plaster reliefs, metalwork and exotic wood paneling.
Anbang issued a statement praising the commission’s action.
“Anbang knows the Waldorf Astoria’s history is a large part of what makes this hotel so unforgettable. That is why we fully supported the commission’s recommendations for designation of the Waldorf Astoria’s most important public spaces and applaud the commission on achieving landmark status for them.”
The Waldorf’s exterior was landmarked in 1993.
The hotel hosted U.S. presidents, royalty and celebrities for eight decades before closing on March 1.