A classic New York City landmark is about to undergo a radical transformation. China's Anbang Insurance Group plans to close the Waldorf Astoria hotel next spring for a $1 billion renovation—lasting up to three years—that will see roughly two-thirds of its rooms converted into private apartments, reports the Wall Street Journal. The hotel will go from having 1,413 rooms to between 300 and 500—meaning many of the 1,500 Waldorf employees will find themselves without a job. Anbang, which bought the hotel for $1.95 billion in 2014, says it will pay more than $100 million in severance agreements, hundreds of which have already been signed.
"We have not finalized any plans in terms of the scope, nature, and details of the renovation project or the exact timing and duration of the hotel's closure. We are currently developing conceptual plans and will share additional details once those plans are finalized," an Anbang rep tells Reuters. Back in 2014, a hotel analyst predicted that converting the Waldorf Astoria to condos could raise $4 billion in sales. For now, there's no word on how many condos will be created or what they might cost, but be warned: "A potential buyer needs more than money to qualify for our apartments," Anbang's chairman told a crowd at Harvard last year. (Tourists in New York City might want to beware fake monks.)