The Waldorf Astoria’s big gamble

first_imgPhoto illustration of the statue at the entrance of the Waldorf AstoriaAt a launch event for the refurbished Waldorf Astoria in early March, Douglas Elliman sales director Dan Tubb stood in front of a wall of screens flickering with black-and-white photographs of the hotel’s famous guests.Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy — all of them were part of the landmark’s storied history. Now, Tubb said, buyers could have their own piece of that legacy.But outside the Park Avenue hotel, which is offering 375 residential condos for sale on the upper floors, a public health crisis was beginning to unfurl. The coronavirus had wreaked havoc in China and spread across the world, overwhelming health care systems and killing thousands. Within weeks, the number of cases in New York had surged, shutting down schools and confining millions of people to their homes.ADVERTISEMENTThe Waldorf’s highly anticipated sales launch — already challenged by the luxury market’s oversupply problem and the state’s new mansion tax — was plunged into unpredictable territory. “It’s kind of unfortunate that they opened when they did,” said Donna Olshan of the boutique residential brokerage Olshan Realty. “It would have been better had they not gone to the market.” By March 16, the project’s sales gallery was shut down.“In consultation with each of our respected developer clients, we have decided to promote social distancing by physically closing,” a spokesperson for Douglas Elliman said, adding that virtual tours are now available.Two days later, Andrew Miller, CEO of Dajia US, the Waldorf’s primary sponsor since last year, defended the timing. “Market and buyer enthusiasm for the project is incredibly high, yet we know and respect that people are likely focused on global events at the moment,” he said, noting that sales had launched to the brokerage community in late February.As the fast-spreading coronavirus batters the city’s already weak luxury market, it’s unclear if the Waldorf will emerge unscathed.Olshan noted that the condominium-hotel hybrid was far from alone in its vulnerability to the pandemic. “Every property will be hit now,” she said. “No property is going to escape.”With an opening slated for 2022, many in the industry are optimistic about the building’s chances. Some 75 units have been released for sale at prices ranging from $1.7 million for a studio to $18 million for a four-bedroom. “Assuming the world gets back to normal sometime in the near future, I think the Waldorf will do very well,” said Nancy Packes, who tracks condo sales and believes the available units are reasonably priced. “The building itself is spectacular.”Confidence in crisisBefore the pandemic, the Waldorf was facing another big hurdle: a glut of luxury inventory. Large condominiums filled with unsold units reflect the challenges in today’s market: Foreign buyers are harder to come by, deals take longer, and discounts are the new normal. Experts predict the city’s unsold inventory will take up to 10 years to sell.But Dajia’s Miller said he is confident foreign and domestic buyers will embrace what the Waldorf is offering, despite the conditions.“I think a lot of people have been waiting for something that inspires the urgency to buy now,” he said. “Something that feels unique and irreplaceable, and fundamentally special.”Dajia was established by the Chinese government in 2019 to handle the assets of the original developer, Anbang Insurance Group, which had been taken over by regulators in 2018. Known for its aggressive track record of foreign investment, Anbang had paid $1.95 billion for the Waldorf in 2015 and poured $1 billion into renovations.The hotel portion of the building will include 375 rooms operated by Hilton. Above them, the residential units will be sweetened by access to 50,000 square feet of private amenities, including a spa, a 25-meter pool, a game room, an enclosed “winter garden” and four private bars.Miller said the Waldorf’s sales team is available seven days a week for virtual showings. Like its peers across the city, it has had to adapt to an entirely new way of doing business — and fast. Contract activity at the Waldorf is unclear, though Miller reports getting thousands of inquiries from all over the world.“Given the international renown of Waldorf Astoria New York, we have already completed virtual appointments for international buyers who have purchased sight unseen,” he said.Banking on legacyThe Waldorf famously started life as two Fifth Avenue hotels — owned by feuding relatives — which were later joined together. It was sold to developers of the Empire State Building in 1929 and demolished. The second iteration, which occupies a full block between East 49th and East 50th streets, was the world’s largest hotel when it was built in 1931.A beacon of opulence, the Waldorf over the years earned a reputation for drawing dignitaries and celebrities including Frank Sinatra, Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor. While units were not for sale, the hotel rooms were treated as long-term residences for many guests, including Monroe, who moved into a suite in 1955, about the same time that her romance with the playwright Arthur Miller began, and former President Herbert Hoover, who lived there for some three decades.After Anbang purchased the building, it brought on the architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to work on the overhaul, which has been underway since 2017. Given the hotel’s decorated heritage, the work has been a balancing act between honoring the building’s original Art Deco design and bringing in modern touches.“This is both an exterior landmark and an interior landmark — two distinct designations in New York, so it’s the highest degree of difficulty,” said Skidmore’s Frank Mahan, who noted that his team worked closely with the Landmarks Preservation Commission on the project.A separate entrance will be created for residents, to separate them from hotel traffic. “The Spirit of Achievement,” a winged statue by Icelandic artist Nina Saemundsson installed above the entrance when the hotel opened 89 years ago, has been brought indoors while work is ongoing but will eventually return to its original location.Waldorf team members hope to create the impression that the building is accessible to a wide swath of buyers — setting it apart from luxury towers where the barrier to entry is several million dollars — though they acknowledge the Waldorf’s price points are still inaccessible for most. Inside the model two-bedroom — a relatively modest offering compared to some of the larger units — soundproofing insulates the space from the usual city drone, and the room’s color palette is mostly muted: polished marble countertops, gray couches and bronze detailing. Interior designer Jean-Louis Deniot said the restrained atmosphere was intentional.“It doesn’t have really a predefined style apart from the fact that, yes, it’s to remind you that you are part of the Waldorf Astoria,” he said. In the bathroom, tiles feature a Waldorf-patterned motif.Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe at the Waldorf in 1957“Everything in the apartments in the Waldorf Astoria is very bespoke,” said Tubb, who left Corcoran Sunshine last August to market sales at the building for Elliman. “You’re not going to go out and find something on the shelf somewhere else. It’s all custom.”Weathering turbulenceAnbang has been through an upheaval since its record-breaking deal to buy the storied hotel. In February 2018, it was seized by the Chinese government as part of a crackdown on companies spending heavily on foreign assets. Three months later, Anbang’s chair, Wu Xiaohui, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for defrauding investors. After regulators took over the firm, it was dismantled, and several of its foreign assets were sold. Those remaining were taken over by Dajia.The developer’s gamble is not only that it can draw buyers to the iconic building, but that it can re-create the glory of the hotel. At the moment, though, the industry is in survival mode, struggling to navigate the swift and brutal economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. At some establishments in the city, occupancy reportedly dropped as low as 15 percent, and at least one — Ian Schrager’s Public on the Lower East Side — shut its doors. The long-term effects remain unknown.“For the near term, hotel occupancy will be decidedly lower than before the pandemic started, and as for many businesses it may be as long as two years before ‘business as usual’ is conducted here and around the world,” said Barry LePatner, founder of construction law firm LePatner & Associates.There were also some positive signs in the sales market, early on. Between March 9 and March 22, there were 35 contracts above $4 million signed in Manhattan, according to market reports by Olshan Realty. But halfway through that period, in-person showings were prohibited by the state, and contracts dropped as low as two in the week ending March 29.At the Waldorf, with so many units to move, the redevelopment was always going to be risky. But Stephen Kliegerman, president of Halstead Development Marketing, said big projects typically plan for longer sellouts and a degree of unpredictability. With that, come pitfalls. “Large-scale projects become very difficult to plan out over time because you may be going through shifting economies and shifting marketplaces,” Kliegerman said.In late February, Dajia’s two-year period of regulatory control ended, but the company is still looking to offload foreign assets. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, at least one deal — to sell a $5.8 billion portfolio of U.S. hotels — has been thrown into peril, according to Bloomberg.Miller declined to comment on the report but said there were no plans to sell the Waldorf. “I’m pleased — and occasionally a bit surprised — that that never came up as a real option,” he said.“Everyone at Anbang and at the regulatory commission and now Dajia understood that the Waldorf Astoria is something unique and special,” Miller said. “Having embarked upon this journey to restore and reimagine the building, it was an obligation of everyone to see it through.”Write to Sylvia Varnham O’Regan at [email protected] This content is for subscribers only.Subscribe Nowlast_img read more

Ficarrotta chairs circuit conference

first_img Ficarrotta chairs circuit conference Ficarrotta chairs circuit conference September 1, 2011 Regular Newscenter_img Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Ron Ficarrotta was formally sworn in as chair of the Florida Conference of Circuit Judges in August by Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady, a day after being unanimously elected by his peers at the Annual Education and Business Conference held in Marco Island. Judge Ficarrotta, as conference chair, will be responsible for reporting to the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House regarding recommendations the conference may have concerning defects in the laws of the state and such amendments or additional legislation as the conference may deem necessary.The Florida Conference of Circuit Judges was created by Florida Statute §26.55 to improve the rules and methods of procedure and practice in the courts and to foster and promote educational institutions and seminars for judges. Today the conference consists of the 599 active circuit judges of the 20 judicial circuits of the state and all retired circuit judges.Judge Ficarrotta had been serving as the interim chair of the conference since December. As chair-elect, he completed the term of 11th Circuit Judge Kevin Emas, who was appointed to the Third District Court of Appeal. Judge Ficarrotta now will begin his own full term.Judge Ficarrotta, a Tampa native, becomes the sixth 13th Judicial Circuit judge to serve as chair, following Judge Harry Sandler (1960-62), Judge James S. Moody (1970), Judge James Lenfesty (1977-78), Judge F. Dennis Alvarez (1993-94), and current Chief Judge Manuel Menendez, Jr. (2006-07).On the bench since 1994, Judge Ficarrotta currently serves as the administrative judge of the criminal justice and trial divisions. To view his profile at the court’s website, visit www.fljud13.org/JudicialDirectory/RonaldFicarrotta/Profile.aspx.last_img read more

Grayling did not act improperly over reforms, court told

first_imgAllegations that a bullying lord chancellor acted improperly in his dealings with the Law Society over criminal legal aid reforms were rebutted by his barrister today.In the second day of a case brought by the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association and the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association – and part-funded by the Law Society – James Eadie QC said there was ‘no impropriety’ in the way Chris Grayling had acted.The two groups challenge the lawfulness of a consultation on the reforms because of the government’s failure to publish and consult on consultants’ reports.Mr Justice Burnett heard yesterday that Grayling (pictured) had become personally involved in the consultation process and misled the Law Society by threatening it with the introduction of price-competitive tendering (PCT). The claimants alleged that when the Ministry of Justice reached an agreement with the Society in August 2013 on the introduction of a new dual-contracting regime, it had already decided to abandon PCT. But Eadie told the court today that at the August meeting with the Law Society, PCT was still on the table as an option. He said the ‘serious allegations’ made against Grayling had ‘no evidential basis’ and caused a ‘certain amount of umbrage’ among ministry officials.Burnett invited Jason Coppel QC, for the claimants, to withdraw the ‘unattractive submission’ that Grayling had personally lied in his dealings with the Law Society, which he said was without evidence and ‘of no relevance’ to the decision he had to make.Coppel replied that he had not told the court that Grayling had lied.Putting the lord chancellor’s case in response to the judicial review application, Eadie said there had been ‘prolonged and intensive engagement’ with the profession and its representative bodies, including the Law Society and the two claimant groups.The skeleton argument said the ‘lengthy, multi-stage’ consultation process that began in summer 2012 also included two consultation papers and a series of public meetings attended by thousands of practitioners.Eadie said under the public law principles on the duty to consult it is a matter for the executive to decide how it informs itself on policy decisions – who it consults and on what information.He said the claimants and profession were well aware, during the consultation process and before the publication of the reports, of the factors and criteria that would be considered by the lord chancellor in determining the number of contracts to be made available.The four criteria, he said – sufficient supply; sufficient case volume; market agility; and sustainable procurement – were identified in both consultation papers, and comments invited upon them.The issues considered by the two undisclosed documents – the Otterburn report on the financial state of firms and the KPMG contract modelling report – were precisely those which the claimants knew the lord chancellor was considering. Re-opening the consultation, said Eadie, would not have made any difference to the decision ultimately reached, or the basis on which it was reached.‘In reality, the claimant’s case is that a re-opening of consultation by reference to the reports would have given them the opportunity to reiterate arguments that they had already had the opportunity to make,’ said Eadie. ‘Neither the Otterburn nor the KPMG report had the slightest impact on the lord chancellor’s stated objective of consolidation,’ said Eadie. ‘The lord chancellor ultimately made a decision – which is not challenged on its merits – to adopt measures to encourage market consolidation.’At the end of the hearing Burnett said he hoped to have judgment ready ‘as soon as possible’ and ‘all being well’ by the end of the month.last_img read more

World rail market August 2013

first_imgIndia: Amco Saft India has supplied batteries to provide back-up power for safety and signalling systems in the Pir Panjal tunnel. Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur transport operator Prasarana has awarded Indra a €28m contract to design and build an integrated control centre covering the monorail, Ampang metro and Kelana Jaya automated light metro lines within 48 months. Russia: RZD and Gasprom have signed an agreement to develop infrastructure to enable natural gas to be used to fuel locomotives. Saudi Arabia: The Development Commission of Makkah & Mashaaer has awarded Parsons Brinckerhoff a US$93·6m 60-month contract to provide programme management consultancy services for the 62bn riyal Makkah Public Transport Programme. A bus network and four metro lines are planned. USA: Herzog Technologies has awarded Wabtec a $9m contract to provide PTC equipment and services for North County Transit District’s Coaster, including seven locos and 10 driving cars.last_img read more

Club decided to cancel takeover talks after disagreement over Leicester City…

first_imgCurrently in charge at Leicester City, the French manager enjoyed a rollercoaster of a second half of the season with the Foxes, starting strongly, but finishing rather poorly.Despite just getting two wins from their last eight games, the club still managed to finish 9th in the Premier League, seven points behind seventh placed Burnley.There have been a few question marks concerning his future at King Power Stadium, but no decision has been taken as of yet.Embed from Getty ImagesHowever, one could have been made for them had Saint-Etienne’s current owners decided to go through with the takeover from Peak6.According to France Football, negotiations between the club and the takeover candidates stopped after it was made clear Peak6 wanted to replace the current manager, Jean-Louis Gasset, who worked wonders after taking over from Oscar Garcia, with Claude Puel.It seems the president, Bernard Caïazzo, wants to make sure Laurent Blanc’s former assistant gets to keep his job going forward as a thank you for his work this year.by Taboolaby TaboolaSponsored LinksSponsored LinksPromoted LinksPromoted LinksTrending TodayForge of Empires – Free Online GameIf You Like to Play, this City-Building Game is a Must-Have. No Install.Forge of Empires – Free Online GameUndo聽多多 Hearmore.asia1969年前出生的香港居民現可免費試戴頂尖的歐洲助聽器聽多多 Hearmore.asiaUndoTheTopFiveVPNEnjoy Netflix Now Without Any RestrictionsTheTopFiveVPNUndo美術寶1對1香港媽媽們注意了,速來領取適合4-12歲孩子的繪畫課,手慢無美術寶1對1UndoSingles50Hong Kong: A 40+ Dating Site That Actually Works!Singles50UndoDating.comTop Successful Single Men in Tung ChungDating.comUndoLoans | Search AdsNeed a loan? Search hereLoans | Search AdsUndoCoworking Space | Search AdsThe cost of shared office in Hong Kong might surprise youCoworking Space | Search AdsUndoSmart Tech TrendOver 55? You Have to Try Those Revolutionary Glasses!Smart Tech TrendUndo If you’re a Claude Puel fan, this will be good news. If you aren’t and you want him out of your club, you might want to click away.last_img read more

In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of December 25, 2015

first_imgShare This!Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Since tomorrow, most of you will be celebrating with family and friends, I decided to get this week’s In Case You Missed It out a day earlier! I hope you enjoy your holiday.Universal purchased land, Star Wars broke records, and lots, lots more happened this week! Read on to find out just what you should know.In Case You Missed It – Disney and Universal Orlando News and Rumors What did we miss? Attach your ideas to Rey and BB8 Die Cast Action Figures and send it to [email protected] with the words “In Case You Missed It” in the subject line. USA Today takes us to The Boathouse in this video. Have you tried it yet?Could a wine bar be headed to Disney Springs? Would this appeal to you?Head’s up. If you were traveling on the Disney Magic next summer, you will not be heading to Greece or Turkey.Robert Iger recently talked about weakness at ESPN, the pressure on television from developing digital media, and the continued strength and value of the brand.Is Pirates of the Caribbean one of your favorite movies? Here are things you may not have known about Curse of the Black Pearl.Set your DVR’s! ABC will air Marvel’s Captain America: 75 Heroic Years in January.Clearly Star Wars broke A LOT of records. See which ones it actually succeeded to break.The big question…where does Star Wars go next? Don’t read this unless you’ve seen the movie, as it involves spoilers.What did this latest iteration of Star Wars do right that the prequels didn’t?Could the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them play a part in upcoming Universal expansions? What would you like to see?It’s official…Universal has purchased 450 acres of land. One would expect it’s just a matter of time before we hear about another gate.In Case We Missed Itlast_img read more

Bitcoin: Some Contrarians Dare to Question BlockChain

first_imgA couple of weeks back I posted the article “Bitcoin: The Economics are Unsustainable.”  Maybe now that a single Bitcoin trades in the range of $15-20,000 that argument holds less water.  But by all measures, Bitcoin still seems like an incredible speculative bubble.About one year ago, bitcoin was dominated by Chinese investors, accounting for as much as 80 percent of all transactions, but since the Chinese government’s ban on cryptocurrencies, legal trading from within China has dropped to almost nothing.  The WSJ reports that the fever has moved to other Asian countries, from example, like South Korea,  that are fueling the boom.Kai Stinchcombe recently posted a fascinating contrarian opinion that questions the utility of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and the idea of BlockChain in general. He compares the inefficiencies of using Bitcoin as a payment system to credit card transactions like from Visa or MasterCard.  Visa typically processed 60,000 transactions per second compared to 7 for Bitcoin (and Bitcoin uses up 35 times the amount of energy that Visa does).  Each Bitcoin transaction actually takes about 8 minutes to process and costs about four cents to process.Stinchcombe points out that an attractive feature of Bitcoin is its lack of control by government.  He writes “The government-backed banking system provides FDIC guarantees, reversibility of ACH, identity verification, audit standards, and an investigation system when things go wrong. Bitcoin, by design, has none of these things.” Be careful, for example, not to leave any Bitcoin information in emails which can be easily hacked — with Bitcoin you would have no recourse after the theft of that money.The article then goes on to cite failed examples and holes in the ideas of  applying BlockChainto banking, smart contracts, distributed storage, stock trading, and authenticity verification.  It will be interesting to see if Bitcoin will continue to spiral upwards or fall back to earth.last_img read more

Reps Cox Barrett testify in support of aircraft safety bills

first_img28Feb Reps. Cox, Barrett testify in support of aircraft safety bills Categories: Cox News,Cox Photos,News,Photos State Reps. Laura Cox of Livonia and Tom Barrett of Potterville testified before the House Law and Justice Committee today in support of legislation that prohibits intentionally pointing a laser or a directed energy device at or in the path of aircraft, including helicopters and airplanes. Also testifying in support of the two-bill package were pilots from the Michigan State Police and Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.last_img read more