Centre Point, WC2H

Centre Point is a 34-storey, 177 metre high tower with frontages to New Oxford Street, St Giles High Street and Charing Cross Road.

The site was once occupied by a gallows, and the tower sits directly over the former route of St Giles High Street, which had to be re-routed.

Constructed by Wimpey Construction between 1963 to 1966, it was one of the first skyscrapers in London. It was built as speculative office space by property tycoon Harry Hyams, who had leased the site at £18 500 a year for 150 years. Hyams intended that the whole building be occupied by a single tenant, and negotiated fiercely for its approval.

With property prices rising, Hyams could afford to keep it empty and wait for his single tenant at the asking price of £1 250 000. He was challenged to allow tenants to rent single floors, but consistently refused.

Centre Point’s prominent position led to its becoming a rallying symbol for opponents. The homeless charity Centrepoint was founded in 1969 as a homeless shelter nearby. It was named Centrepoint in response to the building being seen as an ’affront to the homeless’ for being left empty to make money for the property developer.

It stood empty from the time of its completion until 1975 and was briefly occupied by housing activists in 1974.

From 1980 to 2014, Centre Point was the headquarters of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) which became, at 33 years and seven months, the building’s longest-standing tenant.

Since 1995 it has been a Grade II listed building.

It was eventually converted from offices to luxury flats.

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