Earlier today, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission heard testimony on the proposal to landmark several interior portions of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel just as it is set to undergo a massive transformation courtesy of China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co. Everyone that spoke at the meeting Tuesday spoke strongly in favor of landmarking the interiors, and the application has already received the support of local elected officials including City Councilman Daniel Garodnick.
In October last year, the LPC decided to put the hotel’s interiors on its calendars of items to designate amid increasing concerns that the historic interiors would be destroyed during the hotel’s conversion to apartments. Anbang subsequently put its support behind landmarking the interior spaces and said they would continue to consult the LPC as the transformation of the hotel moves forward
At Tuesday’s meeting, many speakers highlighted the hotel’s iconic stature both in New York City and across the world.
“When the sale of this building circulated in the media, many were shocked that these spaces were not already designated interior landmarks,” a representative for the Historic Districts Council, said in a statement. “Given its function as a hotel for national and international visitors, the protection of the Waldorf grew to be much greater than just a local issue – it became clear that people around the country and around the world love this building and support its preservation.”
Others spoke about how its evolution from the end of the 19th century to present day was representative of the evolution of New York City as well.
“The Waldorf Astoria Hotel deserves to be saved for more than its architectural merit; it is one of the most culturally and politically significant commercial buildings in New York City,” a representative for the Art Deco Society of New York, said in a statement “From its 1893 inception, the evolution of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel has mirrored the transformation of New York City into a cultural epicenter.”
Others who spoke in favor of landmarking the interiors included Columbia University professor and historic preservationist, Andrew Dolkart, The New York Landmarks Conservancy, and several elected officials who sent in letters of support to the Commission.
The exterior of the hotel was already declared a landmark in 1993. But among the interior spaces being considered for designation are the hotel’s West Lounge on the first floor which was formerly known as Peacock Alley, the main lobby also on the first floor, the Grand Ballroom on the third floor, and many of the wall, ceiling, and floor surfaces in the Jade and Astor Galleries along with their light fixtures and furnishings.
The last of the hotel’s guests will have to check out by March 1 this year when the renovation gets underway. The conversion, which could take up to three years, will see the creation of 321 condos. The hotel’s existing 1,400 rooms will be whittled down to 840. The LPC will now continue to deliberate on the application and further examine the testimony today before making a verdict in a couple of months from now—though the date for that has yet to be determined.