Teens hope to revive nightclub building

TWO ambitious teenagers today embarked on a mammoth project as they set out to raise £3million to buy the site of a notorious nightclub venue.

Naomi Cassidy

TWO ambitious teenagers today embarked on a mammoth project as they set out to raise £3million to buy the site of a notorious nightclub venue.

Conor Cloud and Kingsley Mensah, both 14, plan to turn to the former Zest nightclub in Ipswich into a Christian-run community centre, but need they financial backing to achieve their dream.

The ambitious duo, who are pupils at St Alban's Catholic High School, run Christian youth work organisation CK Ministry and have come up with this proposal to buy the Grade Two listed building and transform it.

With support from their committee, which includes Conor's mother DionneCloud Thomas, Katy Howeand Kerrie Adams, who are both involved with the Ipswich Elim Pentecostal Church, they hope to raise enough money through donations and fundraising events to make an offer.

Savills is the agent selling the former maltings building in Princes Street near Ipswich railway station, which comes with a private car park, for £2.5million. The extra money would be needed to carry out the refurbishment.

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The club was closed down following the fatal shooting of Jimoh Plunkett from south London in December 2006.

There is currently a covenant on the building, which says it needs to stay as a leisure venue though this can be negotiated.

Conor, the organisation's director, said: “The site is perfect for what we want to do. It has got such a dark feel to it but we want to turn that around and have a complete contrast. We have so many ideas and visions for this place.

“All in all the project would have a very positive effect on all age groups in Ipswich. We know lawyers, plumbers, builders, who can help us but just need the money to do it all.”

The plans include holding workshops for young people, involving music and performing arts, as well as sessions for single parents, the homeless and drug users.

Mrs Cloud Thomas said: “I would say to people that they should pull Ipswich into their hearts. This is their town and they do have a say into what positive and negative issues there are here. We need everyone to embrace this project.”

A spokeswoman for Ipswich Borough Council said: “There is a covenant for the building which says it needs to be a nightclub, restaurant or public house. If the prospective purchaser wants to change this, they would be able to approach us to discuss the alternatives. There are no guarantees this would be changed.”

If you are an individual or part of a business who wants to help e-mail ccloud@ckenterprise.co.uk or call 07500 267054.

What do you think of this idea? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Did you know?

The old building was first converted to a nightclub in 1987 with the opening of Hollywood. Between 1999 and 2003, it was known as Kartouche, and then from 2003 and 2006, it was taken over by Zest.