Landmark's multi-million pound price tag

WHEN it comes to property in Suffolk they don't come much pricier than this.With a staggering estimated value of anywhere up to £54million, the Willis building in Ipswich is vying for the crown of the most expensive property in the county following a recent valuation.

WHEN it comes to property in Suffolk they don't come much pricier than this.

With a staggering estimated value of anywhere up to £54million, the Willis building in Ipswich is vying for the crown of the most expensive property in the county following a recent valuation.

The intimidating figure dwarfs the £30million paid by an investment company for Tower Ramparts back in 2005 or the several million the borough council made in selling its former Civic Centre offices.

The hefty price tag emerged after the property was routinely revalued by Willis as part of a process carried out every five years for tax and insurance purposes.


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A spokeswoman for Willis has refused to confirm the figure although a property expert said he believes the building could well fetch that kind of cash if it went on the market.

Mark Sargeantson, head of the commercial property division and partner at Fenn Wright, said calculating the value of the Willis building was extremely difficult as it is such a unique construction.

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He said that to do so a formula had to bee used involving total floor space and the amount of money that can be made from letting the building.

Office rents in Ipswich currently cost around £15 per square foot for prime buildings.

This would mean the Willis building - which boasts in excess of 200,000 sq ft - could generate in the region of £3million a year in rent.

Using this figure as a yardstick, Mr Sargeantson said the building could fetch between £40million and £50million on the property market although the building's iconic status could either boost or hinder the value.

Mr Sargeantson said: “It is an unusually large building and is Grade 1 listed so if anyone wants to make alterations it is going to be particularly difficult to obtain consent.

“If it was stood empty today it would be a very unusual proposition to find a buyer for it because it's so specialist.

“The more specialist a building is the more difficult it is to value.

“It is always difficult to put a value on a building like the Willis building and the only way to really find out is to put it on the market.”

Last month The Evening Star revealed Willis is committing to the town following concerns it could be set to leave.

Willis has stressed that it has no plans to sell the building, is intent on maintaining a large presence in Ipswich and sees the town as integral to its future plans.

Do you know of a more expensive building in Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Factfile: The Willis building

The Willis building, constructed between 1970 and 1975, was the first major commission for world-renowned architect Sir Norman Foster, and remains a big draw for architect students and tourists due to its futuristic design.

In 1991 the building became Britain's youngest to be given Grade I listing meaning it can never be altered.

Total space provided is over 220,000 sq ft.

Each of the three floors is 1½ acres (approximately 67,500 sq ft)

The building accommodates 1,000 clerical staff plus 200 support staff.

The glass wall contains 890 panes plus a further 180 around the roof restaurant areas.

Each glass panel measures around three metres by two metres.

The glass is cleaned four times a year and no windows open.

The ceiling is made up of aluminium strips which if laid end to end would reach nearly 100 miles.

The roof-top staff restaurant serves around 1,000 meals a day.

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