Landmark sale

BT sells iconic tower to American hotel group

BT Tower has been a London landmark since the 1960s

BT Tower, a landmark in London since the 1960s, is being sold in a £275 million deal to an American hotel group as part of the shift in communications technology.

The 177 metre (581 ft) grade II listed tower in Fitzrovia houses aerials which are no longer needed in an “all-digital future”, said BT.

Property director Brent Matthews said: “We’ve been immensely proud to be the owners of this important landmark since 1984.

“It’s played a vital role in carrying the nation’s calls, messages and TV signals, but increasingly we’re delivering content and communication via other means.”

MCR, which owns around 150 hotels, including New York’s High Line hotel and the TWA hotel at JFK airport, will purchase what once the tallest building in London as its communications equipment is gradually removed, with the site ultimately being converted into accommodation.

Originally the Post Office Tower, it was completed in 1964 and was opened the following year by the Prime Minister Harold Wilson. The public was allowed access from 1971 and in that year it was visited by nearly one million people.

Of those, 105,000 dined in the 34th floor revolving restaurant which took 22 minutes to rotate. Visitors included The Beatles and Muhammed Ali. The restaurant was closed amid security fears after a bomb exploded in the men’s toilet on the 33rd floor. Public access to the building ceased in 1981.

It was London’s tallest building for 16 years until the NatWest Tower in the City of London was built. In 2003, it was awarded Grade II listed status, but it also made it to the number two spot in a survey of London’s ugliest buildings that same year.

The Tower deal forms part of BT Group’s plan to simplify and reduce the cost of its property portfolio. This includes reducing the number of offices in its estate from more than 300 to around 30. It recently announced the closure of a centre operated by its EE mobile subsidiary in Greenock with staff relocating to Glasgow.

The company sold its former headquarters, BT Centre, in July 2019 for £210 million and moved into One Braham, Aldgate.

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