Astorians braved dead rats and darkness to take advantage of a rare opportunity to tour the long-neglected former Waldorf Hotel next to City Hall.

The property owner, Portland-based nonprofit Innovative Housing Inc, briefly opened the building to visitors and discussed the changes to come during a series of tours Thursday and Friday.

The nonprofit plans to renovate the hotel — also known as the Merwyn — into 40 affordable and workforce apartments. Major construction work is slated to begin after Labor Day and the $6.7 million project will be completed in late 2020.

Julie Garver, the housing development director for Innovative Housing, said the nonprofit plans to begin keeping a waiting list for apartments in June 2020.

In preparation for the renovation work, Innovative Housing will hold a subcontractor open house and prebid meeting from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sept. 5 at 1063 Duane St. in Astoria. The nonprofit wants to encourage local subcontractors in particular to attend, Garver said. They will have a chance to tour the building and talk with the general contractor, Silco Commercial Construction.

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