An old metal fire escape is coming off the front of the historic Waldorf Hotel, making it among the first visible changes as the downtown building transitions from abandoned to remodeled, affordable housing.

The Historic Landmarks Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved the change and the restoration of the building’s deteriorated west facade — visible above the Astoria Library — with new windows, lap siding and trim. The Waldorf is on Duane Street between City Hall and the library.

Second life

The Waldorf Hotel may be turned into apartments.

Innovative Housing, a Portland-based nonprofit, purchased the building last year with plans to change the former hotel into a 40-unit affordable housing apartment building.

Julie Garver, Innovative Housing’s director of housing development, said the organization plans to begin submitting information for permits from the city in late July.

Preliminary work on addressing asbestos in the building will likely start in August, with roof replacement slated for the late summer and early fall ahead of the wet weather months, Garver said.

The bulk of construction will not begin until next year.

The Waldorf, also known as the Merwyn, was built in 1926 and functioned as a hotel until the mid-1960s.

It was renamed the Waldorf in 1980 and used as housing until 1989. That same year it was added to the downtown historic district and shut down by the city because of code violations.

Since then, various groups and developers have attempted to renovate the building, without success. One owner tried to get a permit to demolish the Waldorf in 2014, but was denied following a local campaign to save the building.

Katie Frankowicz is a reporter for The Astorian. Contact her at 971-704-1723 or

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