Towering ambition

ALMOST one year on from the sale of St Francis Tower in Ipswich, its future remains a closely guarded secret today.Since the town centre skyscraper changed hands on March 12 last year, in what was believed to be a £1million deal, the owners of flats within the 100-plus apartment tower block have been cashing in on an unexpected windfall.

ALMOST one year on from the sale of St Francis Tower in Ipswich, its future remains a closely guarded secret today.

Since the town centre skyscraper changed hands on March 12 last year, in what was believed to be a £1million deal, the owners of flats within the 100-plus apartment tower block have been cashing in on an unexpected windfall.

Just two years ago sources say the flats were changing hands for between £6,000 to £8,000, with many of those losing a great deal of money on their original investment and ending up with negative equity.

Many who bought flats for around £30,000 in the 1980s after St Francis Tower was redeveloped by businessman John Howard saw the value of their properties slump as the building fell into decline.


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However since the 16-storey edifice was sold 12 months ago flats have been changing hands at double or even triple those prices as the residents are bought out.

One source said: "At least two or three sales were around £28,000. One got well over £20,00 and one of the others sold out at £15,000."

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Although the current owners Ipswich Central Limited and its management company EWS Chartered Surveyors, of Falcon Street, Ipswich, remain tight-lipped over the developments it is believed virtually all the previously owned flats have been bought out leaving a few tenants scattered round the building.

Ipswich Central Limited received the title absolute to the property on June 13, 2003 after paying £59,000 for the 1960s tower block three months earlier. This money was just the freehold value of the land.

The company is based at Rimmer House, Ripple Road, Barking, Essex. A sign on the top floor of the building states the landlord is Central House Investment Ltd - a company based in Chandos Place, London. The man believed to be behind both companies is Stephen Stuart Conway, of Regents Park, London, a director in more than 20 businesses.

Many expect the skyscraper to be redeveloped when all the flats are vacant. One logical step would be to give the building an interior makeover transforming each floor with just two apartments, one either side of the twin lifts which split the building at its centre.

Thirty of these selling at around £100,000 each could net the owner in excess of £3m, giving Ipswich Central Ltd a healthy profit on its initial investment.

Mr Conway and EWS declined to comment.

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