DJ offers solution to Centre Point homes impasse
After struggling to sell luxury flats in landmark tower, developer takes properties off the market - but Terry Francis may be able to help
02 November, 2018 — By The Xtra Diary
Centre Point homes have been taken off the market after failing to sell
CRANING your neck upwards at the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Charing Cross Road, you can just about make out the top floor of Centre Point.
And if we you look closely, you will notice there are no lights on.
The darkened rooms are more noticeable this week as news arrives that the owners of the Grade II-listed building, luxury developers Almacantar, have announced they are no longer putting up for sale the 50 per cent-odd of flats that remain, as no one is coming forward to make offers.
“We see no point in chasing a market that is increasingly detached from reality,” says Almacantar’s chief executive Mike Hussey, whatever that may mean.
So the top-floor flat, with its five en-suite bedrooms and 360-degree terrace, lies empty – a point not lost on some of us, including Diary, who have been watching the redevelopment of Centre Point with an interested eye, and not because we can afford a place in a block where the smallest one-bedroom flats start at £1.8million.
Nope, it is because that penthouse is on a floor plate that once was home to the most excellent Paramount Club, a space open to all, and the fact it now lies empty seems a parable for the post-neoliberal times we are entering.
Famed house music DJ and producer Terry Francis, who performed regularly at an event called Wiggle at the Paramount, has kindly, Diary feels, offered the owners a way out of the impasse.
One of the key players behind the famous Fabric club, he told Diary if the space is lying empty, and will be so for the foreseeable future, he has an answer.
“It’s a shame such a lovely, public space was closed in the first place, but if it’s just sitting there, and the owners want to make some use of it, I have an answer,” he told Diary.
“Why not give us the keys and we’ll throw them some parties up there, play some good music and make them a few quid while we’re at it.”
What a great idea, Diary agrees. After all, when the owners of the soaring tower block submitted plans to convert the 1960s pile into luxury flats, conservation groups and campaigners called for the top floors of the 33-storey building to be kept open to the public, as they had originally been designed to be.
Almacantar had their first bid to convert the former offices into luxury housing thrown out by Camden Council’s planning committee, but came back with a second plan in July 2013 – and this time got it through.
They claimed then that allowing the celebrated Paramount bar, restaurant and club to remain would chip away at their profits to such a degree that it would make the whole edifice uneconomic – a fact many councillors on the planning committee at the time shook their heads with disbelief at.
Eventually, their scheme was got through, ending nearly five decades of public access to a simply lovely space, with it’s 360-degree views across the London skyline.
At the time Paramount owner Pierre Condou said more than 200,000 people accessed the top floor each year to gaze at our city, and get a sense of the scope and scale, a humbling experience they then took back down with them to ground. Our sister paper, the Camden New Journal, reported Terry as saying when it closed that “it is a real shame that Londoners have lost the right to go to the top of a building designed to have public access, all because of a private company wanting to make more money.”
Seems like the plans to make that bit of extra money are on hold for now.
Unless, of course, Almacantar would like someone to throw them a proper old-fashioned rave.