Embattled Anbang Insurance Group Co.’s plan to convert much of Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria hotel into luxury condos has been the subject of speculation from Wall Street earnings calls to the pages of the New York Post.
Now, evidence that the project is going forward is emerging from an unlikely source: a moving van owned by a little-known religious group.
Anbang bought the famed Art Deco hotel in February 2015 for $1.95 billion, a record sum for a single U.S. hotel that raised questions over how the opaque, closely held Chinese insurer would capitalize on its investment. Last week, the Chinese government took temporary control of Anbang, saying it would consider “all or partial” sales of the company’s assets.
That led representatives of Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., which has a long-term contract to manage the hotel, and construction firm AECOM Tishman to issue statements saying work on the conversion was in fact ongoing.
A visit to the site on Friday evening backed up the assertion: A front-end loader dumped debris into trucks parked on the north side of the building, which takes up an entire city block. Meanwhile, a van bearing the logo of a Scranton, Pennsylvania-based architectural-salvage company waited nearby.