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New York's Waldorf Astoria to start sales of luxury condos

New York

CHINA'S Anbang Insurance Group is scouring the globe for condo buyers looking for a little - or a lot - of Park Avenue glamour.

Four years after buying the famed Waldorf Astoria for a record US$1.95 billion, the insurer is getting ready to begin sales of 375 luxury apartments, betting that the hotel's cachet can attract attention in a glutted market.

Anbang selected Douglas Elliman Real Estate to find buyers for the units, which range from studios to five bedrooms, starting this fall.

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The project will have plenty of competition from new Manhattan skyscrapers aimed at wealthy condo buyers.

The historical pedigree of the building, which has hosted many US presidents and a long list of foreign dignitaries, combined with the mix of unit sizes, should help the Waldorf apartments stand out, said Susan de Fran├ža, chief executive officer of Douglas Elliman Development Marketing.

"It's really bringing back the splendour of a bygone era," she said in an interview. "We will be appealing to local, national and international purchasers."

Douglas Elliman will work with Knight Frank to find overseas buyers for the condos. The construction project, which includes renovations to the art deco hotel, is slated for completion in 2021.

If the building's reputation helps drive condo purchases, it has also highlighted the prolonged closure of the hotel portion of the Waldorf, with lavish public spaces that received landmark protection in 2017.

Anbang - which is shedding assets, including a portfolio of 15 hotels - was seized by its Chinese government regulator last year, raising questions about the future of the iconic property.

The closure has also weighed on Hilton Worldwide Holdings, which has viewed the property as a flagship for its fast-growing Waldorf Astoria brand.

In a conference call last year, Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta said that he would consider opening another Waldorf hotel in New York City if Anbang's renovations were delayed significantly. BLOOMBERG