The views from the top of the iconic 34 storey Centre Point Tower in London’s West End are said to be some of the most spectacular that you will see of our Capital City. However seeing is believing and the views from the tower have not always been generously shared in the 45 years since they were first created by a man that hid them from London’s businesses for over a decade.
Centre Point was one of London’s original Sky Scrapers. Designed by architect Richard Seifert the building was erected to an elevation of 117 meters, despite some controversy over its abnormal height, and completed in 1966.
The intention was for the building to be used by London’s businesses as an office space property but it stood empty for many years, supposedly while owner, property tycoon Harry Hyams, waited for a single tenant to occupy the building.
Keeping a property of Centre Point’s size empty in the late 60s, a time when London craved space, infuriated the City. An article published by The Times on July 24, 1972 wrote: “Londoners who have watched their city being scarred by developers rushing to cash in on the office squeeze are understandably unhappy to see Centre Point’s 34 floors remain vacant.”
When no single blue-chip tenant came forward to occupy the building the reclusive Hyams was put under pressure to let the property by floors. The millionaire consistently refused and the ferosity of Hyams’ opposers nearly pushed the government to consider passing a law that would force such landlords to let their space.
While the practice of waiting for a single tenant, that can fully repair and insure the building they let, is not unusual in the property industry, the timing of doing so in a London desperate for more space led to speculation that there may have been other motives for leaving the building empty. With rising property rents in the late 60s and early 70s, many believed that Hyams was purposely keeping the centre empty so that he could cash in on runaway rent rises at a later time.
Government conspiracies also emerged, perhaps Hyams was being paid to keep the building empty for use by the government should nuclear war arrive on Britain’s shores, this being one of the only fully air conditioned buildings in the city.
Eventually Hyams agreed to lease the property in smaller floor plates and Centre Point’s views were finally released in 1979 when the Confederation of British Industry signed on 13 floors of the building.
But in 2008 the Centre’s mysterious views were once again put into captivity when a private club was built at the very top of the tower. So once again the breathtaking views of Centre Point are shrouded in exclusivity and hidden away. Serviced office clients on the lower floors of the Tower can only guess at what they may be missing if only they were a few floors higher (unless they happen to be an invite-only member of the Paramount Members’ club that is).
See for yourself and arrange a Viewing at the iconic Centre Point Tower on 01932 834 720.
This article has been written by Ceri Lenahan for the exclusive use of Nuclei Limited
Quotation taken from The Times Newspaper Archives