Tower could be yours for just £60m

Surrey Comet: This aerial picture of Tolworth Tower in the 1990s shows its dramatic impact on the local landscape. An Odeon cinema was one of the buildings that had to be razed to make way for it. This aerial picture of Tolworth Tower in the 1990s shows its dramatic impact on the local landscape. An Odeon cinema was one of the buildings that had to be razed to make way for it.

Its current sale has been described as the Royal borough's "biggest commercial property investment opportunity ever". But at a guide price of more than £60million, clearly Tolworth Tower is no ordinary building.

When it was built more than 40 years ago, some hailed it as exciting and imaginative. Others agreed with a Surbiton councillor, who called it "an alcoholic's nightmare".

The building, boasts nearly a quarter-of-a-million square feet, on-site parking for 120 cars, nine high-speed automatic passenger lifts, an imposing, marble-lined entrance hall, 24-hour access and security and many other amenities.

It has around 20 tenants, including a 120-bed Travelodge Hotel.

Like it or loathe it, Tolworth Tower pioneered a social revolution in Britain when it was completed in 1963.

Not only did it allow many hundreds of office staff to work near home for the first time instead of commuting to London, but it could also claim to offer the first out-of-town shopping centre in Britain. With its large car park, it was modelled on what was then a familiar feature of life in America, but was still virtually unknown here.

It also made national headlines as the tallest and largest office development in the Home Counties its 21 storeys soaring 235ft above the Kingston bypass.

Its first tenant was Fine Fare, which opened what was then the largest supermarket in Europe on the ground floor now occupied by the Marks & Spencer food store. Such a bold concept inevitably led to controversy over the reinforced concrete building and its architect, Richard Seifert.

He began his career in the 1930s by designing traditional-style houses, followed in the 40s and 50s by neo-classical buildings.

Not until 1960 did he reveal his spectacular side with his design for Tolworth Tower. It was the first of the tall towers that changed the urban skyline of Britain and made him a fearlessly controversial leader of modern until his death in 2001.

Tolworth Tower was owned for many years by POSTEL, who "re-launched" it in 1991 after a lavish refurbishment to bring it up to date.

Later in the 1990s the tower was acquired by the Dublin-based investment company, Treasury Holdings, who are now selling it at a guide price of over £60million to concentrate on developments in China and the Far East.

The selling agents, G V A Grimley, report interest from investors from a wide field, including America.

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