January 26, 2015 / 12:07 PM / 4 years ago

Swinging London's Centre Point to become luxury apartments

LONDON (Reuters) - Work has started on converting Centre Point, the towering 1960s office building at the east end of London’s Oxford Street, into luxury apartments, developer Almacantar said on Monday.

The Richard Seifert-designed tower will be one of the most prominent buildings to switch from commercial to residential use in London’s West End as developers cash in on rising prices for property in prime areas of the city.

The grade-II listed, 33-storey building was developed by property tycoon Harry Hyams in 1966. However, it was contentious before a single concrete panel was put in place, initially because of its height.

Once it was completed, Hyams left it empty for nearly a decade as he held out to find a single tenant.

It became an emblem for people protesting against property speculation in the city and was briefly occupied by homeless campaigners in 1974.

Its design later won fans, however, and it was listed in 1995, in part because it was symbolic of 1960s ‘Swinging London’.

Almacantar, which is led by former Land Securities executive Mike Hussey, said the two-and-a-half-year conversion would feature 82 luxury apartments. A new pedestrianised square will also link Oxford Street with the Soho and Covent Garden entertainment districts.

It will also transform Centre Point’s nine-storey block of shops, offices and retail units, and build 13 affordable homes and 41,780 square feet of retail space.

The project will be completed in time for the opening of London’s Crossrail station at Tottenham Court Road, which will become one of the city’s busiest transport hubs, it said.

Reporting by Esha Vaish; Writing by Paul Sandle, Editing by Angus MacSwan

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